'Legal' is longer-lasting

Kelley cranks it out at deadline

Dec. 14 would have marked the day when TV series wrap production for the two-week holiday break before reconvening in early January.

When ABC's "Boston Legal" wraps production that day, the acclaimed dramedy will be one of the last scripted shows to do so, with the writers strike continuing to shut down series as they run out of fresh scripts. (Only NBC's well-oiled "Law & Order" machine and ABC's veteran comedy "According to Jim," which received a late midseason order, are slated to do additional filming in January.)

The cast and crew "Boston" had been able to keep their jobs for so long because of a strong effort by series creator/executive producer David E. Kelley, who completed the scripts of three episodes days before the beginning of the strike.

In the week before the writers' stoppage began, three "Boston" teleplays, which Kelley co-wrote, were "published," a term used for finished scripts that have been approved for filming.

Kelley also was in the midst of writing a fourth one but couldn't finish it on time. So for now, until there is a strike settlement, production on "Boston" will end with Episode 14, now in production.

Kelley penned that episode with Corinne Brinkerhoff and Susan Dickes. The other two last-minute scripts were written by Kelley and Lawrence Broch (Episode 13) and Kelley and Dickes (Episode 12).

Kelley, one of the most prolific TV writers working today, is known for writing his shows quickly.

His feat on "Boston" also is a throwback to the 1950s and '60s, when TV scribes were cranking scripts fast to satisfy the series' 39-episode orders.