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David E Kelley Hears Wedding Bells

Published February 27, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox.
The Wedding Bells The Wedding Bells

David E. Kelly has found years and years' worth of stories in fields as familiar to television as the law, medicine and school. His latest show tackles an industry more familiar to movies. The Wedding Bells centers on three sisters running a wedding coordination firm, and their personal relationship difficulties along the way. This show is a romantic comedy, much like Boston Legal is more My Cousin Vinny than And Justice For All

David E. Kelley Talks The Wedding Bells

"There's always been something funny at every wedding I've ever been at so it seemed like a natural," said Kelley. "I must say, when I flew in this morning, the pilot stopped me and said, 'I see your shows and I'm a big fan of your work. Are you doing something new?' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm working on a comedy about weddings.' He said, 'Weddings? What's funny about that?' So maybe it's more tragic for some people depending on their perspective. A situation that's designed to be perfect and orchestrated seems like a recipe for comic disaster."

Kelley is on his third legal series, so that was obviously fertile ground. Could Wedding Bells go on for as long as people continue to marry? "I think that the terrain will probably be a little more finite but it does feel at least now to be a very fertile storytelling area. People we talked to about the show, everybody has a story and an anecdote to share with us. As opposed to the legal business, where 'Oh yeah, I know so and so who got sued.' It's usually not a very interesting story. by and large, most of the stories that people throw at us with respect to their weddings are quite amusing and viable as potential stories."

The Wedding Bells is one of the rare Kelley shows to deal with married characters, certainly his first comedy to do so. At this early stage, the TV mogul is not sure what the differences may be. "That's a really good question. I'm probably just at the beginning of discovering that. We've got one couple within the show that are married that we will be exploring their marriage and a host of problems that are maybe unique to marriage, juxtaposed against the more simple logistical problems of planning a wedding. So I guess I can't really fully answer that question."

As for the dearth of married characters on his legal shows, Kelley cites practicality. "I think by and large, when you're doing a franchise like a law franchise and you know you're not going to have much storytelling time to go home with the characters, that that series is basically going to exist in the office place, it probably just is more economical not to give them a home life because then you don't have to constantly explain to the audience why that home life is being ignored."

Having been in the business for decades, with several hits and a few forgotten bombs under his belt, Kelley has no formula for success. He's hopeful for Wedding Bells but would hardly say it's a lock.

"I have a good feeling about the show at this process but I would say more times than not you have a good feeling off of dailies. You try never to be too seduced by dailies. My good feeling here though probably goes to the fertility of subject matter. When the stories come easily and the writing process doesn’t feel laboring, that's usually a good sign for me. When I really have to push and grope and scratch and claw to make a story work, that's a telltale sign that maybe something conceptually isn't right. So far in the writing, it's been a lot of fun to write the show and that's a good indication."

The Wedding Bells premieres March 7 on FOX.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Fox.

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