The Practice (TV): Reviews and comments

Spader Ready to "Practice"

James Spader is getting his legal briefs on.
The veteran character actor is in final talks to join the firm of ABC's The Practice beginning next season, the network and show creator David E. Kelley announced Thursday. The addition of Spader will help plug the hole left by the departures of six key players, including series stars Dylan McDermott and Lara Flynn Boyle, who were let go by Kelley last month.
"It is a writer's dream to work with an actor as multifaceted and layered as James Spader is," Kelley says in a statement. "I've been a fan of his for some time and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity for us to work together."
Spader will assume the role of Alan Shore, an attorney, who, in the words of a network publicist, "will be complicated and ethically challenged" and play foil to remaining cast members Carolyn Manheim, Michael Badalucco, Steve Harris and Jessica Capshaw.
Kelley reportedly tapped the acclaimed thespian after seeing his performance as a forty-something lawyer who starts a sadomasochistic relationship with his mentally unstable secretary in last year's dark indie comedy Secretary. No word how much Spader's pending deal will be worth; the details are still being ironed out.
Spader has appeared in more than 40 movies dating all the way back to 1978, but he first rose to attention in the mid-'80s as the slimy popular guy pal of Andrew McCarthy in John Hughes' Brat Packer flick Pretty in Pink.
Other slimy guy roles soon followed, including a particularly sleazy part opposite Robert Downey Jr. and McCarthy in 1987's gritty drug drama Less Than Zero. But it was his performance as an irregular John with an unusual fetish in Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies and videotape that really broke Spader into the big time.
Other movie credits include Mannequin (again with McCarthy), Baby Boom, Wall Street, Bad Influence (opposite former West Wing-er Rob Lowe), White Palace, True Colors, Bob Roberts, Wolf, the sci-fi blockbuster Stargate and Crash.
On the tube side, Spader's only full-time gig was on NBC's 1983 drama The Family Tree. He also had a guest appearance playing the 12-step guy who rattles George's cage on a memorable episode of Seinfeld. Earlier this year, he starred in FX's TV movie The Pentagon Papers.
Daily Variety reports that Kelley & Co. are also trying to recruit actress Rhona Mitra (Sweet Home Alabama, The Life of David Gale) to the firm as a paralegal/law student, but neither ABC nor Kelley would confirm.
The new hires would help offset the loss of cast members McDermott, Boyle, Kelli Williams, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Chyler Leigh and Marla Sokoloff, all of whom were axed to keep production costs down.
For Kelley, Spader's presence would be a big plus after big cast changes on three of his babies. Aside from The Practice shake-up, Fox's high school drama Boston Public expelled several actors and earlier this week the producer pink-slipped comic actor Brian Haley from Kelley's upcoming CBS dramedy, The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H..

Source: © eonline by Josh Grossberg, Jun 12, 2003, 10:10 AM PT

Legal matter: Spader joins ABC 'Practice'

James Spader is in final negotiations to join David E. Kelley's ABC drama "The Practice." Spader's recruitment follows the recent exit of six cast members of the David E. Kelley Prods./20th Century Fox TV show, including Dylan McDermott and Lara Flynn Boyle, for financial and creative reasons (HR 5/20). Spader will join Camryn Manheim, Michael Badalucco, Steve Harris and Jessica Capshaw as regulars on the series, which is heading into its eight season in the fall. He will play Alan Shore, a complicated and ethically challenged lawyer. "It is a writer's dream to work with an actor as multifaceted and layered as James Spader is," Kelley said. "I've been a fan of his for some time and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity for us to work together." Sources said Spader caught Kelley's eye with his performance in last year's quirky indie comedy "Secretary." "The Practice" will mark only the second regular TV gig for Spader, who had a role on NBC's short-lived drama "The Family Tree" in 1983. The actor, who recently earned critical acclaim for his work in the FX telepic "The Pentagon Papers," is repped by ICM.

(Nellie Andreeva - June 12, 2003 )

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