King of Series
King of TV series David E. Kelley first earned his reputation as a skillful screenwriter/producer after working in the NBC legal drama series “L.A. Law” (1986-1991), which gave him five Emmy Awards and five other Emmy nominations. Kelley, who then won five other Emmy Awards and took home four Emmy nominations, was praised for creating series like “Picket Fences” (1992-1996), “Chicago Hope” (1994-2000), “Ally McBeal” (1997-2002) and “The Practice” (1997-2004). However, Kelley also had several failed projects, such as “Snoops” (1999), the legal drama “Girl’s Club” (2002) and the family drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire” (2003). He is assigned to work in a series titled “The Wedding Store,” as well as two silver screen films: Life on Mars (2007) and Chasing Montana (2008).
Kelley is also the husband of actress Michelle Pfeiffer, with whom he has two children: an adopted daughter and a son. Pfeiffer will take the lead role in Kelley’s upcoming Chasing Montana (2008).
Courtroom to Studio
Childhood and Family:
Born on April 4, 1956, in Waterville, Maine, David E. Kelley was the raised in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Jack Kelley, was formerly a head coach for the Boston University Terriers hockey team and the first head coach for the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. Also, Jack was once the director of operations for the Glens Falls Civic Center in New York.
“I never even in college thought writing was something I intended to do. I guess I probably had characters in my head as a kid but never thought I’d put them into prime time.” David E. Kelley
After graduating from The Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts, David studied Political Science at the Princeton University in New Jersey and then worked as a lawyer in the Boston-based firm Fine & Ambrogne, specializing in real estate and minor criminal cases. Bored with the job, in the 1980s, he tried screenwriting and directly received positive response.
On November 13, 1993, David married actress Michelle Pfeiffer and became the father of Michelle’s adopted daughter named Claudia Rose Kelley (born in 1993). The couple welcomed a son named Jack Henry Kelley in August 1994.
Success with L.A. Law
David E. Kelley submitted his script titled From the Hip to producer Steven Bochco. As a result, the courtroom comedy movie From the Hip was released in 1987, starring Judd Nelson and Elizabeth Perkins, and Kelley was hired as a writer for the NBC legal drama series “L.A. Law” (1986-1991). In the course of the show, Kelley gradually earned the status of the executive producer. For his magnificent work in the series, he won five Emmys and was nominated for five other Emmys, two Edgar Allan Poe awards and a Writers Guild of America award.
Kelley then moved to a family comedy drama show as the co-creator of “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” (1989-1993, also as the executive consultant) before forming and executive producing the CBS drama series “Picket Fences” (1992-1996), set in the fictional town of Rome, Wisconsin. Later, the producer collected two Emmys and a Humanitas Prize, as well as received an Edgar Allan Poe and a Writers Guild of America award nomination.
Upon the end of the series, Kelley made a medical drama series for CBS titled “Chicago Hope” (1994-2000) and swept up two more Emmy nominations. He next cast his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer, to star in the title role in To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday (1996, wrote the script and co-produced).
Working in a comedic legal drama show, Kelley created and executive produced “Ally McBeal” (1997-2002), which catapulted the fame of actress Calista Flockhart. The producer was soon given an Emmy and a Television Critics Association award, as well as received two Emmy and a BAFTA TV award nomination.
Kelley maintained his fortune with the long-running legal drama series “The Practice” (1997-2004), which harvested two Emmys, two Humanitas Prizes, a PGA Golden Laurel, an Edgar Allan Poe award and a TV Guide award. Also, The Practice picked up two Edgar and a Writers Guild of America award nomination. Featuring Dylan McDermott, Steve Harris, Kelli Williams, Camryn Manheim, Lara Flynn Boyle and Michael Badalucco, the series offered many ethical and controversial issues in its episode themes. In the 2003 season, Kelley fired most of the original cast members and added James Spader as a lead character.
Besides writing the movies Mystery, Alaska (1999) and the Bridget Fonda-starring Lake Placid (1999), Kelley also did another courtroom series titled “Snoops” (1999), which only lasted for several episodes. It was followed by the high school-set series “Boston Public” (2000-2004, also as the executive consultant), another flopped law series named “Girl’s Club” (2002) and the cancelled family drama “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire” (2003).
Kelley, who played himself in the comedy movie Frankie and Johnny Are Married (2004), dug deeper into the law firm theme in “Boston Legal” (show began in 2004) and brought home a PGA Golden Laurel award nomination. He is assigned to co-write, along with Stu Moss, the TV detective movie Life on Mars (2007), as well as a comedy drama movie about a father-daughter relationship titled Chasing Montana (2008), starring wife Pfeiffer.
On the small screen, Kelley reportedly will pen a one-hour wedding-planning series for Fox named “The Wedding Store.” The project will replace Fox’s midseason series “The Wedding Album.”
- Edgar Allan Poe: Best Television Episode Teleplay, “The Practice,” episode “Goodbye,” 2004
- Humanitas Prize: 60 Minute Category, “The Practice,” episode “Final Judgment,” 2003
- Humanitas Prize: 60 Minute Category, “The Practice,” episode “Honor Code,” 2002
- TV Guide: Brandon Tartikoff Award, 2001
- PGA Golden Laurel: Television Producer of the Year Award in Episodic, “The Practice,” 1999
- Television Critics Association: Individual Achievement in Drama, “Ally McBeal,” 1999
- Emmy: Outstanding Comedy Series, “Ally McBeal,” 1999
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “The Practice,” 1999
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “The Practice,” 1998
- International Monitor: Film Originated Television Series - Best Achievement, “Ally McBeal,” episode “Cro-Magnon,” 1998
- Humanitas Prize: 60 Minute Category, “Picket Fences,” 1996
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1994
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “Picket Fences,” 1993
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “L.A. Law,” 1991
- Emmy: Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, “L.A. Law,” episode “On The Toad Again,” 1991
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “L.A. Law,” 1990
- Emmy: Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series, “L.A. Law,” episode “Blood, Sweat & Fears,” 1990
- Emmy: Outstanding Drama Series, “L.A. Law,” 1989