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Don't underestimate Emmy King Kelley

July 4, 2006 |  1:16 am


When drafting award predictions, one whopper goof you shouldn't make is to fail to give proper Emmy due to TV created by David E. Kelley. That's possible because the prolific producer/writer is such a longtime TV comfort blanket we've cuddled up with for so many years — dating back, heck, to "Doogie Howser" and "L.A. Law" — that we take him for granted. I know, I know — Kelley doesn't even look old enough to have been alive when Doogie was delivering hospital babies while going through puberty himself on ABC, but that's just one of many mysteries surrounding the quiet ex-lawyer from Boston.

Since those days Kelley has given us "Chicago Hope," "Picket Fences," "Ally McBeal," "Boston Public" and "The Practice" (which successfully morphed into "Boston Legal"). Four of those programs won 8 best series awards &mdash a record: "Ally" (once), "Picket" and "Practice" (twice each) and "Law" (three times under his stewardship as producer). Oh, yeah, and 2 of those wins were shockeroos that reign today in the pantheon of Emmy's Greatest Upsets: "Picket Fences" shot down "NYPD Blue" in its debut year when the gritty cop series reaped 26 noms (setting a record that still stands) and "The Practice" bumped off TV's Hottest New Thing — "The Sopranos." Now, this year, "Boston Legal" just made the finalist list for best drama series and may make the final, final cut on Thursday morn when nominees are trumpeted.

Even if Kelley gets shut out of that race, he'll probably make a strong showing in the acting categories. For the past two years most Emmy pundits failed to foresee the victories by "The Practice"/ "Boston Legal" stars James Spader and William Shatner. Why? How is that possible? At this point wins by Kelley-penned characters are more than routine: he holds that Emmy record, too. Kelley has been behind the most acting wins (33) and nominations (96). Spader just made this year's finalist list for best drama actor, so it's likely his name will pop up again on Thursday morn, along with Shatner and Candice Bergen.

Now do yourself a favor: go back and retool your Emmy-nomination predix and give Kelley the odds he deserves, OK? Then join the dish in our forums about his impressive, seldom-hailed Emmy accomplishments — CLICK HERE!

Photo: In 1999, when "Ally McBeal" and "The Practice" triumphed, Kelley became the only producer in TV history to win Emmys for best comedy and drama series in the same year.