David E. Kelley
Arguably one of the most prolific writer-producers in small screen history, former attorney David E. Kelley created some of television's quirkiest and unconventional shows, particularly in the normally staid legal world. Kelley left his self-described boring job as a litigator to join the writing staff of Steven Bochco's hit "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994), where he eventually worked his way up to executive producer. He went on to co-create "Doogie Howser, M.D." (Fox, 1989-1993) with Bochco before branching out on his own to create the wildly quirky, but ratings-challenged "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96), which, despite critical adulation and two Emmy Awards, struggled to find an audience. Kelley ventured out into medical drama territory with the equally lauded "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000), while continuing his duties on "Picket Fences." But since he wrote all the scripts for both shows - much to the frustration of his writing staff - Kelley soon found himself burned out and forced to relieve himself of his responsibilities, which led to a decline in quality of both shows. After struggling to find his footing in the feature world with "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday" (1996) and "Lake Placid" (1999), Kelley reached the height of his creative and commercial powers with two divergent legal shows - "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), a gritty, realistic look inside a Boston law firm, and "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002), a wildly fanciful show that featured character fantasies, song numbers and a unisex bathroom. By the time he spun-off "The Practice" into the even more successful "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-08), there was no doubt that Kelley was a powerful creative force in television the likes of which had not been seen since Garry Marshall dominated the small screen in the 1970s.