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Posted at 8:51 PM ET, 01/13/2011

David E. Kelley knows his new show is a long shot

By Lisa de Moraes

David E. Kelley's new drama series for NBC, "Harry's Law," debuting next week, is a very long shot, Kelley acknowledged Thursday at Winter TV Press Tour 2011.

Kathy Bates stars as cranky patent lawyer who's sacked by her blue chip law firm and winds up practicing storefront law in a dicey part of Cincinnati, operating out of a dumpy space that once housed a store that sold high-end women's shoes. Yes, I know - but it's a David E. Kelley show, so you have to just go with the flow and not wonder what a store selling Manolos and Louboutins would be doing in a bad part of Cincinnati. Anyway, now Harriet - aka Harry - and her motley band of lawyers/assistants practice law and sell shoes.

NBC has ordered just six episodes and given it a pretty lousy timeslot - Mondays at 10.

"We're not kidding ourselves, we know this will be tough sledding," Kelley said. "It's a very tough timeslot and it's not conventional and we have a 60-year-old lead...Not many networks have come to me recently and said 'Can you give me a show with a 60-year-old lead?'," Kelley said sitting next to Bates, who did not bat an eye, bless her.

"I have to believe in a universe of 500 channels there is room on the television landscape for one or two or three series that are willing to engage in topical debate," Kelley said.

The show is set in Cincinnati because "we wanted a city that wasn't sexy. It could have been Cleveland," Kelley said. "We wanted a city that was urban and had gang neighborhoods and urban strife." Because the show is very much about "class war and the disparity of wealth in this country," Kelley explained.

To that end, the shoe-selling gag was not arbitrary, Kelley said. Everyone has his aversions. Some dislike reality TV, others sushi. David E. Kelley dislikes women's shoes.

"The shoe is symbolic of the most indulgent, arbitrary spending," Kelley said disapprovingly.

"They don't even feel good when you have them on," he added. We assume he was not speaking from personal experience. We like to think he was getting his information from wife, Michelle Pfeiffer. But, sadly, he did not mention her by name.

"There's something psychological about the shoe," Kelley scowled.

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 13, 2011; 8:51 PM ET
Categories:  Winter TV Press Tour 2011  
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