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Young lawyer's thoughts spring to life in 'Ally McBeal'

coffee? September 12, 1997
Web posted at: 5:50 a.m. EST (1050 GMT)

From CNN Correspondent Ron Tank

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- Meet Ally McBeal and her many thoughts.

In Fox's new fall sitcom of the same name, the young lawyer shares her musings on life and love with viewers. And she has thoughts aplenty after she joins a Boston law firm -- only to discover that she will be working closely with her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be the love of her life.

As Ally's character responds to her awkward work situation and life's other minor tribulations, the viewer is pulled into Ally's private thoughts through flashbacks and fantasy sequences.

In one such instance, arrows shoot at Ally's heart as she learns that the love of her life, and new co-worker, is married.

Love Hurts

Calista Flockhard stars as Ally. It is her first television role after a stint in theater. Flockhard appeared in such Broadway productions as "The Birdcage," "The Glass Menagerie" and "Three Sisters." She is still trying to adjust to the fast pace of TV production.

"It creates a sort of obsessive beating oneself up," says the actress. "You know, if they say print, cut, move on, and you're going, but I didn't get it."

Emmy award winner David E. Kelley, of "Picket Fences" and "Chicago Hope" fame, wrote the hour-long drama. Fox spins the show as "a seriously funny drama," that deals with Ally's daily struggles at home and at the office.

The supporting cast includes Greg Germann, coming off of his most recent role as Eric in "Ned and Stacey." This time around Germann plays the smarmy head of the Ally's law firm. And Gil Bellows heats up the small screen as Billy, Ally's long lost, and now happily married, love.

But it's Ally's internal thoughts that serve as the backbone of the show.

"Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're serious, but it's just sort of a visual editorial of what she's thinking and or feeling at any particular moment," explains Bellows of Ally's secret thoughts.

Courtney Thorne-Smith, formerly "Allison" on nighttime soap "Melrose Place," finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle as Billy's wife, and Ally's subsequent friend.

"This isn't a soap opera, so we get to handle our lives a little bit better. The situations are very day-to-day, understandable situations we've all been through," says Thorne-Smith. "And the interesting part is watching the characters respond internally."

The show's premiere episode squashed the competition when it aired Monday night, coming in second in its timeslot. And Fox hopes that's not a fantasy sequence.


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