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Picket Fences Supplement

    Compiled by Terry Gaetz [TJG]
    Note:  This guide is for personal use only and may be distributed freely.
           No charge may be made for this document beyond the costs of
           printing and distribution.
    Last Revised:  1995 Jul 11 [TJG]

Series Credits

    Credits at the beginning of first season episodes (except for the pilot):
       Picket Fences
       Kathy Baker
       Tom Skerritt
       Costas Mandylor
       Lauren Holly
       Holly Marie Combs
       Justin Shenkarow
       Adam Wylie
       Picket Fences
       Created by David E. Kelley
       [Also Starring credits; Guest Star credits]
       Music by:       Stewart Levin
       [Producer credits]
       Co-Executive Producer:   Michael Pressman
       [Writing credits]
       [Directing credits]
    Producer Credits:
       Episodes 1.02, 1.03, 1.04
          Producer:                Robert Breech
          Producer:                Alice West
       Episodes 1.05 to 1.13
          Producer:                Mark B. Perry
          Producer:                Robert Breech
          Producer:                Alice West
       Episodes 1.14 to 1.22
          Producer:                Mark B. Perry
          Producer:                Robert Breech
          Senior Producer:         Alice West
    Credits at the end of the episode:
       [more acting credits; production credits]
    Credits at the beginning of second season episodes:
       Picket Fences
       Kathy Baker
       Tom Skerritt
       Costas Mandylor
       Lauren Holly
       Holly Marie Combs
       Justin Shenkarow
       Adam Wylie
       Fyvush Finkel
       Zelda Rubinstein
       and Ray Walston
       Created by David E. Kelley
       [Also Starring credits; Guest Star credits]
       Music by:       Stewart Levin
       [Producer credits]
       [Writing credits]
       [Directing credits]
    Producer Credits:
       Co-Producer:             Geoffrey Neigher
       Co-Producer:             Jonathan Pontell
       Producer:                Ann Donahue
       Producer:                Robert Breech
       Senior Producer:         Alice West
       Co-Executive Producer:   Michael Pressman
    Credits at the end of the episode:
       [more acting credits; production credits]
    Credits at the beginning of third season episodes:
       Picket Fences
       Kathy Baker
       Tom Skerritt
       Costas Mandylor
       Lauren Holly
       Holly Marie Combs
       Justin Shenkarow
       Adam Wylie
       Fyvush Finkel
       Kelly Connell
       Don Cheadle
       and Ray Walston
       Created by David E. Kelley
       [Also Starring credits; Guest Star credits]
       Music by:       Stewart Levin
       [Producer credits]
       [Writing credits]
       [Directing credits]
    Producer Credits:
       Episodes 3.01 - 3.12
          Producer:                Geoffrey Neigher
          Producer:                Jonathan Pontell
          Producer:                Robert Breech
          Supervising Producer:    Ann Donahue
          Supervising Producer:    Alice West
          Co-Executive Producer:   Michael Pressman
       Episode 3.13, 3.15
          Producer:                Jonathan Pontell
          Producer:                Robert Breech
          Supervising Producer:    Michael Nankin
          Supervising Producer:    Ann Donahue
          Supervising Producer:    Alice West
          Co-Executive Producer:   Michael Pressman
       Episode 3.14, 3.17
          Producer:                Geoffrey Neigher
          Producer:                Jonathan Pontell
          Producer:                Robert Breech
          Supervising Producer:    Michael Nankin
          Supervising Producer:    Ann Donahue
          Supervising Producer:    Alice West
          Co-Executive Producer:   Michael Pressman
    Credits at the end of the episode:
       [more acting credits; production credits]

Additional Information

    _TV Guide_, Fall Preview Issue, Sep 12, 1992
       Picket Fences
       10-11 P.M. CBS
       STARS:  Pictured (clockwise from top left):  Costas Mandylor,
       Tom Skerritt, Fyvush Finkel, Holly Marie Combs, Zelda Rubinstein,
       Adam Wylie, Justin Shenkarow, Kathy Baker, Lauren Holly.
       PREMISE:  It's *L.A. Law* set in a town instead of an office.
       It's *Northern Exposure* without the loonies.  It's the tale
       of life in Rome, Wis., revolving around Skerritt as the sheriff
       and Baker as his wife, the town doc.
       STRONG POINT:  A lot happens in this small town, even murder.
       There's plenty of engaging drama.
       WEAK POINT:  Sometimes, it just goes too far:  a has-been sister
       act plays the town bar and ends up in three-way sex with an old
       coot, and the show finds new ways to die that even *L.A. Law*
       wouldn't believe.
       COMPETITION:  ABC-s *20/20*, NBC's *I'll Fly Away*.
       BOTTOM LINE:  It faces the classy drama *I'll Fly Away*.  But
       that series ranked 78th last season.  And this show has sex.
       So it could win this contest.
    _TV Guide_, "The Couch Critic" by Jeff Jarvis, Oct 31, 1992 issue
       It's peanut butter on bacon, Madonna on the arm of Pat Buchanan.
       It's an odd mix, *Picket Fences* is - but a wonderful one.
       *Fences* boasts the best collection of characters on TV this fall:
       Tom Skerritt as the sheriff and Kathy Baker as his doctor/wife are
       normal folks - the only ones around.  One son's a neurotic
       trombonist; another makes the boys on *Home Improvement* look
       domesticated; and their teen daughter is eerily and enchantingly
       mature.  Gorgeous Deputy Max (Lauren Holly) gets her kicks from
       autopsies.  The tiny phone operator (Zelda Rubinstein) is omniscient.
       And attorney Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel) makes all lawyers look like
       fools - and I love him for it.
       Strange things happen to these strange folks.  The Tin Man in "The
       Wizard of Oz" is murdered ("If I Only Had a Heart Attack," read
       the headlines), then his wife is stuffed, dead, into a dishwasher.
       That's frightening.  An elephant is rescued from its mean owners (and
       from an elephantine case of constipation) by a little man who falls
       for the gorgeous deputy.  Quirky.  Then a beloved teacher dies of a
       brain tumor.  Frightening.  In any hour, *Fences* is mirthful and
       maudlin, magical and mundane.  That's the odd mix.
       TV's best ZIP codes these days - Cicely, Alaska; Twin Peaks,
       Washington; and Eerie, Indiana - are odd burgs filled with odd
       citizens who do odd things.  *Picket Fence's* Rome, Wisconsin, at
       first looks more like the average town of the American dream, where
       life's dull and thus safe.  Normal things happen here (a mom and dad
       worry about their daughter's sex life), but so do bizarre things
       (a serial kidnapper who chops off hands just happens to drive
       through).  It's sometimes hard to tell which is which - to know when
       to suspend disbelief and enjoy the fantasy or when to hook up our
       human hearts and feel sympathy.  Especially in the premiere, when it
       tried too hard, *Fences* could cause a person's brows to furrow.
       That's partly the fault of expectations caused by critics who, like
       network execs, imagine every show is like another.  Critics called
       *Fences* another *Northern Exposure* - but it's not.  I could also
       say it has some *Eight is Enough* mixed in, but the truth is that
       *Picket Fences* is just *Picket Fences*, a unique show with its own
       laughs, sentiment, surprises, and - most important - its own great
       characters.  They are the reason I'm ready to overcome bewilderment
       and overlook excesses and return every week to *Picket Fences*,
       fall's most pleasant surprise.
       [Photo:  To serve, protect, and amuse.  Tom Skerritt as Sheriff
    _TV Guide_, "Cheers 'N' Jeers" Nov 14, 1992 issue
       To Ray Walston, for overcoming his TV alienation.  Best known for the
       title role in the '60s TV series *My Favorite Martian*, Walston later
       came to regret having done the show, saying it had hurt his career by
       forever typecasting him.  But Walston has obviously come to terms
       with his otherworldly notoriety, turning up on TV in several parts
       that prove he's a good sport:  as Boothby, the Star Fleet Academy
       gardener on *Star Trek: The Next Generation*; as Ned, and
       interstellar explorer on NBC's *Eerie, Indiana*; and as Judge Bone
       in CBS's *Picket Fences*, who attended a Halloween party dressed
       as...a Martian.  To top it off, Walston has also won acclaim for his
       turn as Candy, the elderly ranch hand in the new "Of Mice and Men"
       flick.  Space, it seems, *isn't* the final frontier.
    _TV Guide_, "The Couch Critic" by Jeff Jarvis, Dec 12, 1992 issue
       *L.A. Law* revisited
       Last season I asked:  can *L.A. Law* be saved?  This season I'll
       answer:  why bother.  [...]
       *Law's* real problem:  it has simply lived too long.  It's a candle
       that once burned brilliantly but now has run out of wax and wick.
       The blunt truth is, it's time for *Law* to go and make room in the
       hearts of drama fans for fresher shows, such as *Picket Fences*.
       Which leads me to a special appeal to former *Law* fans - and judging
       by *Law's* gravity-stricken ratings, there are many:  try *Picket
       Fences*.  It's a wonderful show from a *Law* alum that's hidden in
       a bad Friday slot.  Since I praised *Fences* here, it has only gotten
       better.  One recent show about a singing, serial-killing nun examined
       euthanasia, religion, medicine, and the law with more sophistication,
       wit, and intelligence than TV is ever given credit for.  It is
       remarkable TV.  It is even better than *L.A. Law* used to be.
    _TV Guide_, "Cheers 'N' Jeers", Jan 9, 1993 issue
       Cheers to Fyvush Finkel - no, not for having one of the best names in
       show biz, but for his scene-stealing turn on CBS-s *Picket Fences*
       as Douglas Wambaugh, the shamelessly self-promoting small-town
       lawyer and unlikely champion of the underdog.  Have a sticky legal
       problem?  Just call Wambaugh.  Better yet, just wait for him to
       show up.  Much to the consternation of everyone around him, he always
       does, cheerfully ready to spring to the defense of the seemingly
       defenseless, from a mercy-killing singing nun to a transsexual
       schoolteacher.  As a character, Wambaugh is an ingenious invention,
       providing comic relief while revealing cosmic truths.  As an actor,
       Finkel is equally amazing, balancing Wambaugh's abrasive extremes
       with a humanity that's both convincing and compelling.  If only
       CBS were compelled to give *Fences* a shot in a better time slot
       than Friday nights at 10 P.M. (ET).
    _TV Guide_, "TV Update", Feb 13, 1993 issue
       Will *Fences* Seek New Neighbors?
       *Picket Fences* is down, but not perhaps not altogether out, in
       Salt Lake City and Seattle.  Although the CBS affiliates in those
       cities, managed by companies owned by the Mormon Church, dropped
       the show - citing objectionable subject matter - creator David
       Kelley says the network may offer *Fences* to local independent
       stations.  Ironically, Viewers for Quality Television just named
       the provocative series the season's best drama.
                                     - Deborah Starr Seibel
    Boston Globe, "Broadcast Notes", Feb 12, 1993
                                  By Susan Bickelhaupt, GLOBE STAFF
       David Kelley will be coming east this weekend, where he can play
       pond hockey in New Hampshire and forget about all the worries a
       TV executive producer is heir to - worries like scheduling, ratings
       and controversies over story lines.
       Kelley is the creator, executive producer and (usually) the writer
       of CBS' "Picket Fences" [...], an hourlong drama with a comedic
       edge.  The show has done well enough with the ratings to persuade
       CBS to stay with it all season, and it was just voted best new
       drama in a poll taken by Viewers for Quality Television.
       But recently it ran into controversy when two CBS affiliates
       dropped the show, offended by an episode that included a story
       line about Mormons and polygamy.  One of the stations, in Seattle,
       has since reinstated the show; the other, in Salt Lake City, is
       sticking to its position.  Both are owned by Bonneville Corp.,
       which in turn is owned by the Mormon Church - which, by the way,
       stopped endorsing polygamy about a century ago.
       "It really did surprise me," Kelley said in a telephone interview.
       "After five years of 'L.A. Law,' where I tackled more controversial
       matter, we were never censored or preempted," he said.  Kelley was
       the executive producer of NBC's lawyer drama, which is generally
       more serious than "Picket Fences."  As he puts it, with the new
       show, "at first blush, you're licensed to laugh at it and enjoy."
       The show is set in small-town Rome, Wis., and combines an ensemble
       of quirky characters with serious plots, which usually revolve
       around the action in the sheriff's office and his home.  Tonight's
       episode, for example, centers on a Cupid serial killer who comes
       to Rome.
       "It's kind of different, not really typical of the show," Kelley
       said of tonight's installment.  But who's to say what's typical
       on "Picket Fences," which has dealt with everything from a
       constipated elephant to an HIV-positive dentist?  It has to walk
       a delicate line between reality and foolishness, which is no doubt
       why Kelley's been responsible for most of the writing.
       "I've been pretty hands-on this year, because I figured the tone
       is different and there's a certain juxtaposition of comedy and
       drama," he said.
       If the approach is unusual, the cast boasts enough familiar names
       to get viewers' attention:  Tom Skerritt ("A River Runs Through It")
       plays the sheriff; Kathy Baker ("The Right Stuff," "Clean and
       Sober") is his wife and the town doctor; Ray Walston ("My Favorite
       Martian") is the judge.
       Kelley said he hopes the show will be renewed for next fall.
       He thinks the biggest hurdle is its time slot:  On Friday nights,
       he figures, people are either worn out or not at home.  "Also, it
       preempts the possibility of word of mouth, the talk about the show
       on the following day, which I enjoyed on 'L.A. Law.'"
       And if you think creating dramas in LA and Wisconsin has made this
       Boston-area native forget his roots, just listen closely to the
       dialogue.  You'll catch things like a reference to "Fresh Pond near
       Route 2," right there in Rome.
       Guilty as charged, admitted the graduate of Belmont Hill School and
       BU Law.  "Hey, my imagination is limited in some ways, and I have
       trouble of thinking up new names of places," he said.
       Hey, we'll take it, especially when "Cheers" leaves town.
    Boston Globe, "Broadcast Notes", Mar 02, 1993
                                  By Susan Bickelhaupt, GLOBE STAFF
       Cooler Head:  David Kelley will get his wish to make "Picket
       Fences" more a "water-cooler topic of conversation" - not to
       mention a chance to go head to head with some old friends -
       when his CBS drama moves from Friday to Thursday nights, starting
       April 1.
       The show will be slotted against "L.A. Law" at 10 p.m.  Kelley,
       the creator of "Picket Fences," was once executive producer of
       the NBC drama.  "Picket Fences" has made only a fair show in the
       ratings this year, and Kelley has theorized that it might
       benefit from a night other than Friday, so that people could
       talk about it the next day at work.
    _TV Guide_ "This Week - Hits & Misses - Reviews by Jeff Jarvis"
       Picket Fences (Thurs., CBS) - I've made it a crusade to get
       people to notice TV's smartest, most endearing show, *Picket
       Fences*.  Now CBS is aiding the cause by moving *Fences* from
       Fridays to Thursdays.  This week's show tackles both sides of
       of the hot debate over fetal-tissue treatments while Tom
       Skerritt and Kathy Baker wrestle with jealousy and confinement
       in their marriage.  Want to see *real* quality TV?
       Here it is.  My score:  10.
    TV Ad, early Summer, 1993
        Millions of you have never seen Picket Fences.
        Maybe you were watching something else.
        Guess what - that something else is now in re-runs.
        Why not try something totally unexpected
           and almost totally undiscovered
        Picket Fences:  the best show you've never seen.
    TV Ad, late June, 1993
        A lot of TV's best shows came close to getting the
        axe their first year because of low ratings. But
        before it was too late people did tune in and save
        some great TV. So why not check out the show "TV
        Guide" viewers voted most worth saving. Picket Fences
        the best show you've never seen.
        [The examples of shows that were given in the ad were
         Hill Street Blues, MASH, Cagney and Lacey, and Designing
    TV Ad, Summer, 1993
        All season you've read and heard a lot of good things about
        Picket Fences. And yet millions of you have never seen it.
        Maybe you were watching something else. Well guess what,
        that something else is now in re-runs. Why not try something
        totally refreshing, totally unexpected, and almost totally
        undiscovered. Picket Fences - the best show you've never seen.
    Summer, 1993
       *Picket Fences* receives an award from Viewers for Quality Television.
    Picket Fences Emmy Nominations and Awards (1992-1993) [adapted from a
    netnews article; additions & corrections supplied by John David Spiropoulos]
        *Picket Fences* received the following Emmy nominations
        (an [*] indicates that the nominee won):
       The 1992-1993 Primetime Emmy Awards
       Nomination announcemant: July 22
       Creative Arts Emmy presentation: September 18
       Primetime Emmy Telecast (Live; ABC): September 19
      *Outstanding Drama Series,
      *Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
          Tom Skerritt as Jimmy Brock
      *Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
          Kathy Baker as Dr. Jill Brock
       Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
          Fyvush Finkel as Douglas Wambaugh
       Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
          Ray Walston as Judge Henry Bone
       Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
          Michael Jeter; "Frog Man"
       Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
          Richard Kiley as Hayden Langston; "Thanksgiving"
       Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costuming for a Series
          Shelly Levine, Men's Costume Supervisor;
          Loree Parral, Women's Costume Supervisor
          (for "Pageantry")
       Outstanding Individual Achievement in Main Title Theme Music
           Picket Fences - series - CBS - David E. Kelley Productions, Inc.
           in association with Twentieth Century Fox
           Stewart Levin, Composer
    _TV Guide_ "Grapevine", Sep 25, 1993:  "To the Max"
       Last season, the producers of CBS's *Picket Fences* learned a valuable
       lesson:  A little controversy can do wonders for the ratings.  When
       a couple of local stations refused to air two episodes - one featuring
       two teen girls kissing and another dealing with bigamy - the brouhaha
       actually improved the show's Nielsens.  "We got a lot of press and
       our ratings went up," says Lauren Holly, who, as *Fences'* Deputy
       Max, is sure to generate a lot more press when the series returns on
       Oct. 22.  In a storyline that continues for several episodes, Max
       turns into a nymphomaniac and becomes so hooked on sex she even
       seduces her therapist.  "People kept saying they wanted to see Max
       out of uniform more often," says Holly.  "Well, you asked for it,
       you're gonna get it."  Is she worried that any affiliates might want
       to put the hex on all the sex?  No way.  "If anyone wants to make
       a big deal out of it, please do.  Our ratings will go up."
    _TV Guide_ "Cheers 'N' Jeers", Oct 09, 1993
       [Re:  Emmy Awards]  Cheers to the *Picket Fences* sweep (drama,
       actress, and actor).  [Photo:  Skerritt, Baker with Emmys.
       Caption:  "Tom Skerritt, Kathy Baker:  Amidst a thicket of
       'Picket' prizes."]
    _TV Guide_ "This Week - Hits & Misses"  Reviews by Jeff Jarvis
               Oct. 16, 1993
       Picket Fences (Fri., CBS) - it can be difficult for an amazing
       series to keep amazing us, but that's what *Fences* does in
       its season premiere.  The mayor kills a carjacker - after
       the thug dropped his weapon - and even as the townsfolk call the
       mayor a hero, the sheriff (Tom Skerritt) arrests him for murder.
       Don't miss it!  My score:  10.
    Boston Globe, "TV Week" cover story, Oct 17, 1993
                                  By Bruce McCabe, GLOBE STAFF
       "Picket Fences," the big winner among the drama series at the Emmy
       Awards last month, is not resting on its laurels this season; in
       fact, you might look for some risk-taking.
       So says Michael Pressman, co-executive producer of the series, which
       opens its second season Friday night at 10 [...] with what Pressman
       says is a "shocking" opening that he hopes will make the show "tough
       to leave" for channel-surfers.
       In the episode, Brock (Tom Skerritt) finds himself alienated from
       the community when he arrests and prosecutes Mayor Pugen (Michael
       Keenan) for killing a man who tried to carjack him.  CBS newsman
       Harry Smith and former New York Mayor Ed Koch make cameo appearances
       as themselves:  Smith interviews Koch about the Rome case on national
       television.  And Don Cheadle joins the cast in the recurring role
       of District Attorney Jonathan Littleton.
       "We want to make it better," said Pressman, speaking by phone from
       California.  The show's creator and co-executive producer, David
       Kelley, "is working harder than ever.  We want to make it grittier
       and tougher this year.  But it's an evolving process.
       "We want more controversy in the issues.  We want less humor and
       more drama.  We're trying to get away from words that have been
       used to describe us like 'quirky,' 'light' and 'offbeat.'  They
       denote fluff.  We're trying to stay one step ahead of the
       audience's expectations."
       Pressman says the season's premiere is a perfect example of what's
       being attempted.
       The carjacker, knowing that Pugen can identify him, threatens to
       kill the mayor and his family if he presses charges.  The fearful
       Pugen shoots and kills the assailant, leading to his arrest for
       murder.  So the community sees Pugen as a hero, and Brock sees
       him as a criminal.
       Jill Brock (Kathy Baker) adds to her husband's fears that the
       community will start taking matters in its own hands:  She buys
       a gun and takes shooting lessons from Max (Maxine Stewart, one
       of Brock's deputies, played by Lauren Holly).  Meanwhile, the
       new DA has come to town with his own ideas.  He and Brock start
       clashing on how to handle the mayor's case.
       Pressman says that these dramatic developments are what the
       producers think the audience is open to.
       "What's going on is that we're asking the audience to come up
       to the level of the show," he says.  "We're going to be serializing
       stories and we want the audience to jump on board with us.  Some
       stories will be going on for two or three episodes."
       On the cover:  Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker star in their Emmy
       Award-winning roles.  Justin Shenkarow (plaid vest), Holly Marie
       Combs and Adam Wylie play their children.
    Boston Globe, "Broadcast Notes", Oct 22, 1993
                                  By Ed Siegel, GLOBE STAFF
       Timing is everything, in television as in life, and "Picket Fences"
       has had nothing but bad timing.  Last year CBS scheduled it on a
       weekend night until moving it to Thursdays opposite its soulmate,
       "L.A. Law."  In fact, it moved to Thursdays on the same night that
       Steven Bochco and William Finkelstein came back to revive "L.A. Law,"
       which hasn't been the same since David E. Kelley went off to produce
       "Picket Fences."
       Now it's back on Fridays, where is returns at 10 tonight on Channel 7,
       just in time for every ounce of its three big Emmy victories to have
       That's a shame, because after a year of near-fatal ratings and
       multiple-personality scripting, "Picket Fences" seems to have its
       act together, at least if tonight's episode is any indication.
       Picket Fences was too much of a hodgepodge last year - going from
       "Twin Peaks" to "Murder, She Wrote" to "Dallas" to "The Waltons,"
       often within the space of one show.  Not even a writer as gifted
       as Kelley can juggle all those balls, and the result was a program
       as unsatisfactory as it was innovative.
       This year's model has a much surer sense of itself, and if it
       doesn't aim for as many targets, at least it hits those it aims at.
       The story centers on the mayor, who pulls a gun on a knife-wielding
       carjacker.  The bad guy drops the knife, but tells the mayor to
       let him go or he'll come back after the mayor's kids when he gets
       out of prison in a few years.  Pop goes the handgun; down goes the
       bad guy.
       Sheriff Tom Skerritt isn't about to let the mayor get away with
       murder, and the rest of the hour is a skillful examination of the
       rights and wrongs of the shooting, in which both the sheriff and
       the mayor's lawyer wrestle with their professional ethics as well
       as their personal identities.  As with Kelley's work on "L.A. Law,"
       the episode never comes to easy conclusions.  The viewer has to
       work as hard as the actors.
       Gone from "Picket Fences" is the taste for loonyness that undercut
       many of the good things Kelley did.  Gone for the most part, anyway.
       There's still a stupid scene in which Zelda Rubinstein ("I'm a little
       person, not a midget") offers to seduce the new district attorney.
       Though the surrealism has been purged, Kelley hasn't lost his sense
       of the absurd.  Ed Koch is shown on an interview show saying, "If
       I had been the mayor I'd've shot the S.O.B.  No question about it."
       The lawyer petitions to allow cameras in the courtroom because CBS
       wants documentary footage for a movie of the week.
       In terms of both style and content, "Picket Fences" seems ready to
       take off.  Tonight's episode justifies last year's Emmy; if the
       quality is maintained, the program will be the only drama on
       television worthy of regular viewing.  If you gave up on it last
       year, take it from another towel-thrower:  Give it another chance
       tonight and you'll most likely be back next week.
    _TV Guide_, "The Couch Critic" by Jeff Jarvis, Oct 30, 1993 issue
    [provided by John David Spiropoulos]
       "Picket Fences" is the best show on television today.  Even the
       usually nearsighted Emmys could see that, having just named
       "Fences" best drama, Tom Skerritt best actor, and Kathy Baker
       best actress.  When "Fences" premiered last year, it took me a
       few episodes to learn to dance to its strange, syncopated rhythm
       and to discover that this is more than another "L.A. Law" or
       "Twin Peaks"; it's brilliant and new.  Now I don't just like
       "Fences," I love it.  Infact - watch me go out on a limb and hear
       it crack under the weight of what I'm about to say - "Picket
       Fences" could become TV's best show ever.  I can't award that
       crown until the show has been on longer, until time and I judge
       it against other legends: "I Love Lucy," "Hill Street Blues,"
       "Roseanne."  But in its second season, "Picket Fences" promises
       This is the rare television show that's "about" something.  This
       season's premiere was about crime and how it is changing us all: A
       carjacker attacks the mayor, who pulls a gun, disarms the thug,
       then kills him.  Risking the town's rage but loyal to the law,
       the sherriff (Skerritt) arrests the mayor for murdering an unarmed
       man.  The next show was about trust: A clownish lawyer with a
       golden soul (played by the astounding Fyvush Finkel) fears he
       abused the mayor's trust in his botched defense.  Meanwhile, a
       priest feels the heavy burden of trust as he counsels a woman
       who cannot have a child because of likely birth defects - but who
       will not disobey the church's law on contraception.  Every week,
       these decent characters struggle to do what is right.  This is a
       moral show, a show with a conscience.
       It is also tautly dramatic, surprisingly hilarious, brilliantly
       written, and beautifully acted (add Ray Walston, Lauren Holly,
       Holly Marie Combs, Costas Mandylor, and Zelda Rubinstein to its
       winners).  Yes, it sometimes goes too far - killing the mayor by
       spontaneous combustion - but the method to this madness become
       clear as Finkel holds his client's powdered remains and recites:
       "Ashes to ashes/Dust to dust/This is what happens/When you misplace
       your trust."  He tells the mourners, not as a lecture or as a
       greeting card, but earnestly: "We're not here on this earth
       long, people.  We have to learn to love better."  Coming unexpectedly,
       it is a touching moment.  And because of such moments, I can honestly
       say I always leave this show feeling better for having watched - but
       sorry it's over.
       Mind you, I hate it when people coerce me into watching shows that
       wear the cloak of quality - the "I'll Fly Aways" and "Homefronts" - by
       hinting that if I don't, I must be a dolt.  So I won't pressure you.
       I'll just say that "Fences" hasn't been a hit on Friday or Thursday
       (so I suggest Monday).  And if I want to keep watching, it has to
       grow.  So I will beg you: "Watch!"
       [Photo:    Tom Skerritt standing behind Kathy Baker, his left arm
                  around her.
        Caption:  "The best:" Skerritt, Baker.]
    _TV Guide_ "Cheers 'N' Jeers" Jan. 15, 1994
       Cheers - To some sharp night moves.  CBS recently shifted repeats
       of *Picket Fences* into Friday's post-Letterman time slot, an apt
       pairing of audiences and sensibilities (a whole lot more apt a
       combo, we might add, than some of those cheapo action-adventure
       hours they've been running after Dave.)  [...]
       [Photo:  Adam Wylie, Holly Marie Combs, Tom Skerritt, Kathy Baker,
                Justin Shenkarow.
        Caption:  "Picket Fences" picks up and moves:  CBS experiments with
                  "Picket" scheduling are among several praiseworthy saves.]
    Netnews posting:
    From: TAMARB
    [1] Re: PF: Picket Fences Question
    Date: Thu, 3 Feb 94 04:29:25 -0500
    Organization: Delphi
    Lines: 49
    Brian Stuart Thorn writes:
    >First, during the summer reruns, the opening was changed to include
    >more scenes from first season episodes. All the credits remained
    >the same, and the sky background was blue.
    >Second, with the second season premiere, the opening sequence was
    >changed to include a few different first season scenes (we lost the
    >Max-in-Matthew's-dream shot) and the sky background became dark.
    >At this time, the opening credits were expanded to include
    >Fyvush Finkel, Zelda Rubinstein, and Ray Walston.
    I'm an assistant editor on Picket Fences, and it was my pleasure to cut
    both the summer season main title and the Season #2 main title.  After
    the somewhat mixed success of the first season,  the show's
    producers,particularly David Kelley, became increasingly concerned with
    finding an audience.  The original main title, created by the
    Pittard/Sullivan agency,apparently didn't test well, and David personally
    requested that a new main title be immediately assembled that would more
    accurately reflect the tone of the past season.  David specifically requested
    that the old main title be removed as soon as a replacement was
    available.Together with co-producer Jonathan Pontell, I cut together the
    replacement using clips from the show.  Deborah Ross Designs was
    contracted to comeup with a new main title for the second season.
    Together Deborah and I culled material that would reflect a darker, less
    quirky tone.  Our concept was that the main title follow the progress of a
    typical episode --  scene of the crime/ the community responds (police,
    medical)/ characters are thrown into conflict/ the court rules.  It was
    our personal agenda to keep whatever off-beat stuff we could get away
    with -- our first cut featured Wambaugh in prison.  This didn't fly with
    the producers, and we later replaced it with the close shot of Wambaugh
    smoking his cigar.  The new main title was first seen by the cast and crew
    at our Friday afternoon cast and crew lunch screening.  Immediately
    after our first screening I received a request from our associate producer
    Steve Robin that we find a prettier shot of Maxine (Lauren Holly) for her
    card shot. (I can only guess who made the request.)  As Max is frequently
    all-business, and little usable footage existed of her in uniform and
    appropriately framed for a graphic element, our co-executive producer
    Michael Pressman shot a new insert specifically for the main title.  And
    getting back to the original question, I consider the dark sky a personal
    victory.  Deborah had pulled several hours of cloudy skies from stock
    footage libraries, which I then logged and loaded into the AVID Media
    Composer (a Mac-based editing system).  We each picked our favorite
    cloud shots for the opening.  I favored the dramatic clouds currently in the
    main title, and gently campaigned for their inclusion.  David Kelley, of
    course, cast the deciding vote, immediately seeing the potential metaphor
    suggested by the sun piercing heavy grey storm clouds.
                    Daniel Valverde
    Netnews posting:
    From: Danny Moses
    Subject: Re: Maxine on Picket Fences
    Organization: InfiNet
    Date: Thu, 3 Mar 1994 13:00:30 GMT
    Lines: 29
    Lauren Holly, 29, is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.  Her first
    major acting credit was in Michael Mann's 1986 film, "Band of the
    Hand," playing Nikki.  Lauren met her future husband, Daniele
    Quinn(Anthony's son) on the set.  In November of 1986 Lauren joined the
    cast of ABC's "All My Children" as Julie Chandler, receiving an Emmy
    nomination in 1988 for her role.  Lauren left the show in December of
    1989.  Her next screen appearance was on two episodes of NBC's
    1987-1990 sitcom, "My Two Dads" as Paul Reiser's girlfriend. In 1990,
    Lauren returned to the big screen in Andrew Dice Clay's "Adventures of
    Ford Fairlane" as his secretary(?), Jazz.  Later in 1990, she appeared
    as Betty in NBC's pilot/movie, "Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again."
    Even though the show was not picked up by NBC, things were looking
    bright for Lauren as she was signed to appear in Penny Marshall's "A
    League of Their Own" as a 17-year-old tomboy pitcher.  However, the
    film, which at that point starred James Belushi, went into turnaround.
    Lauren didn't appear in the 1992 film.  In 1991 Lauren starred in the
    short-lived CBS legal drama, "The Antagonists."  Lauren played Kate
    Ward, a bright, young, by-the-book prosecutor for the District
    Attorney's office.  Sounds a bit like our Max, doesn't it? 8-)  In 1992
    Lauren appeared in a CBS tv-movie, "The Fugitive Among Us," as Suzie
    Bryant.  Lauren's biggest theatrical role to date followed when she
    played Bruce Lee's wife Linda in 1993's "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story."
    Danny in Yorktown, VA
    Netnews posting:
    From: Danny Moses
    Subject: Article on Picket Fences' Fyvush Finkel
    Date: Wed, 16 Mar 1994 18:02:29 -0500 (EST)
    X-Mime-Version: 1.0
    X-Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
    Lines: 67
    Here's an article from the Friday (3-11-94) Daily News that I thought
    Picket Fences and Fyvush Finkel fans would find interesting.
    Lawyer episode makes the case for 'Fences'
    by David Bianculli
       Douglas Wambaugh, the outrageous attorney played by veteran
    Yiddish-stage actor Fyvush Finkel on the CBS series "Picket Fences," is
    a real character.  His business card reads:  "Reasonable doubt for a
    reasonable fee"; he seems incapable of resisting a punch line or
    gauging its appropriateness, and his legal skills far outstrip his
    social ones.
       Tonight at 10, in an episode written by series creator David E.
    Kelley, Wambaugh's character is attacked.  Speaking at a Jewish
    memorial service, Wambaugh offends so many people that he's barred from
    his own synagogue - a move that, at first, crushes him.  Then Wambaugh
    decides to go on the offensive (so to speak), and demands a Rabbinic
    hearing, called a Beth Din, to argue for reinstatement.
       "The history of the Jewish people," one rabbi warns Wambaugh
    sternly, "is in your hands."
       "I read that once," Wambaugh says, managing a meek smile, "standing
    at the urinal."
       Is it any wonder the guy's in such trouble?
       "He's not a bad person," Finkel said by telephone Wednesday,
    explaining his take on the popular "Picket Fences" character.  "He's
    not an ambulance chaser.  Had he been in a big city, he'd be considered
    a great lawyer.  He knows the law; it's his demeanor in the courtroom
    that's the problem."
       Like most of Kelley's stories, tonight's episode is two-pronged,
    taking separate approaches to the same issue.  This week, the issue is
    prejudice, with one plot examining the feelings of a 500-pound woman
    (guest star Darlene Cates), and the other dealing with Wambaugh and
       More than any other dramatic series on television, "Picket Fences"
    delves deeply into emotional, controversial and topical issues.  If
    you're coming to the series for the first time, this is a wonderful
    point of entry, and Finkel gives a superb performance.  So do Tom
    Skerritt and Kathy Baker as the town's central family, and, in this
    episode, Holly Marie Combs as their daughter, who sticks up for
    Wambaugh in his hour of need.
       "That's as old as time itself.  Portia did it for Shylock," said
    Finkel referring to Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."  He added,
    however, "I'm sure David Kelley didn't have that in mind."
       I'm not too sure.  When I watch "Picket Fences" - and both laugh and
    cry, as I did when previewing this episode - I have no problem thinking
    of it as art, and even as poetry.  TV doesn't get much better than
    this, and having an entire show that confronts Wambaugh's "shyster"
    persona head-on is a bold move, one that pays off handsomely.
       "This episode," Finkel promised, "children and grandfathers can see
    this and not be embarrassed for one second.  It's something that's
    really universal, and it's something the whole family can sit down and
    watch.  It's 'Hallmark.'"
       One hallmark of Kelley's writing is the eagerness to employ both his
    actors and his show's past story lines to their fullest.  Wambaugh goes
    on trial tonight for virtually every lapse in taste we've ever seen him
    commit; if you've been watching both seasons of "Picket Fences," you
    know what a long and entertaining list that is.
       If not, this is a great opportunity to get caught up - in the
    history as well as the drama.
    Danny in Yorktown, VA
    _TV Guide_, "Cheers 'N' Jeers" Apr 30, 1994 issue
       To a *Picket Fences* episode two weeks ago ["Buried Alive"] that
       answered the question:  "Why don't they do drama like they used to?"
       They do.  It began with deputy _Lauren Holly_ handing out a traffic
       ticket and snowballed, as little things do, into a funny, human, and
       genuinely revealing encounter in the living room of sheriff _Tom
       Skerritt_ and wife/doctor _Kathy Baker_.  The scene peeled away
       layers of guilt, anger, and love in one surprising twist after
       another.  It was grown-up theater, as good as you'd pay for on
       Broadway -- and obviously a labor of love for its writer, *Fences*
       creator _David E. Kelley_.  The show, Skerritt, and Baker all
       received Emmys last year, but *Fences* still isn't winning the
       ratings it deserves.  All we can say is:  What are you folks going
       _out_ to see on Friday nights that could possibly be any better than
    Covallis (Oregon) Gazette Times, (sent by Loren Heisey)
       Patience brings acclaim to aged actor
       Fyvush Finkel lays down the law on 'Picket Fences'
       By Frazier Moore
       The Associated Press
         Fyvush Finkel, who plays attorney Douglas Wambaugh on "Picket Fences,"
       is one of TV's freshest faces.
         At age 71. After more than 60 years in show business.
         Go figure.
         Of course, there are many reasons to watch "Picket Fences" (which airs
       at 10 p.m. Fridays on CBS), maybe as  many reasons as there are citizens
       of Rome, Wis., the series' anything-can-happen-here hometown.
         But thanks to Finkel's cagey old counselor, "Fences" is a pro-bono
         Who is this guy? Jockeying between comic bluster and soul-stirring
       dignity in the twinkle of an eye - usually, his own - Wambaugh tells
       tasteless jokes at funerals and distributes business cards that read
       "Reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee," yet he's a litigious mensch for
       the put-upon and, by the way, a devoutly religious man.
         "You see," Wambaugh offered in his own defense when his exasperated
       rabbi tried to drum him out of the synagogue earlier this season, "I'm a
       character! I embarrass MYSELF! But I would NEVER embarrass my God or my
         Spend a few minutes with Fyvush Finkel, and you discover that here, too,
       is a man of wonderful expanse.
         "On every contract that I have had all my life is that I don't appear on
       the High Holy Days," he says, hoisting his formidable eyebrows to vanquish
       any doubt. "Never!"
         On the other hand, when he took his comic sketches to all those
       Catskills resorts long ago. he showed his audience no mercy. "They
         Now white-haired and rabbinical-looking in his vest and gray suit,
       Finkel remains absorbingly funny. He says he was born that way.
         "Jewish people in general have a very good sense of humor," he notes,
       his eyes merry crescents. Then, his brows descend like storm clouds for a
       somber postscript: "Ninety-nine percent of their humor is based on
         Take a time-honored subject of Jewish humor: the waiter.
         "He's an old-timer. He works hard all day. He's flatflooted. He don't
       hear well.
         "So now he's scratching himself while he waits for the order. The
       customer says, 'Hemorrhoids?' The waiter says, 'I only serve what's on the
         "Funny, right? But it's also tragic. He's hurting inside. So to speak."
         The Brooklyn-born Finkel was on stage before his 10th birthday, yet he
       was middle-aged before he ever appeared in an English-language play. After
       40 years, he made his switch from the fading Yiddish theater to mainstream
       show business in "Fiddler On the Roof," with which he toured for a dozen
         He played the shopkeeper in the off-Broadway musical "Little Shop of
       Horrors" for its entire five-year run.
         Then, four years ago, he scored a small role as a lawyer in the film
       "Q&A." Happening to see it, David E. Kelley knew he'd found the right man
       for a series he would introduce come fall 1992.
         "David Kelley," Finkel trumpets, "he can write a good script! He can
       write a good check! He's a very good writer!
         "Great artists, there," Finkel carries on. "(Series star) Tom Skerritt -
       a great actor and such a nice man. The whole cast - beautiful people,
       everyone of them. It's the happiest set in America, I think."
         As he speaks, Finkel is 3,000 miles from his happy soundstage, and from
       the hotel suite he and Trudi, his wife of  47 years, share while the show
       is in production. They are back home from California for a visit and,
       combining business with pleasure, have been sharing lunch with a reporter
       at Manhattan's Second Avenue Deli, Which Finkel salutes as his favorite
         Napkin tucked at his throat, he is digging into his deli omelet
       ("salami, pastrami, tongue, all that stuff") as he continues to savor his
       new-found success.
         "It's a miracle to have this happen to you," he says. "In California,
       they're  used to film people around. And yet, when we go to the mall to
       see a movie, they're holding court with me."
         "He lets them kiss him!" Trudi says.
         "It's a brand-new life, completely brand-new. But I live the same way,
       "he hastens to add. "I just smoke a better cigar."
         No wonder. Wambaugh, too, happens to enjoy the occasional stogie, and
       Finkel requests only the finest as props for those scenes.
         "And then, naturally, you keep a  handful, what the hell." Finkel says
       with a laugh.
         An open-and-shut case of delight.
    Picket Fences Emmy Nominations and Awards (1993-1994) [adapted from a
    netnews article; additions & corrections supplied by John David Spiropoulos]
        *Picket Fences* received the following Emmy nominations
        (an [*] indicates that the nominee won):
       The 1993-1994 Primetime Emmy Awards
       Nomination announcement: July 21
       Creative Arts Emmy presentation: September 10
       Primetime Emmy Telecast (Live; ABC): September 11
      *Outstanding Drama Series
          "Picket Fences" - David E. Kelley Productions in association with
          20th Television (CBS). David E. Kelley, executive producer;
          Michael Pressman, co-executive producer; Alice West, senior
          producer; Robert Breech, Ann Donahue, producers; Jonathan Pontell,
          Geoffrey Neigher, co-producers; Jack Philbrick, coordinating producer.
       Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
          Tom Skerritt as Jimmy Brock
       Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
          Kathy Baker as Dr. Jill Brock
      *Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
          Fyvush Finkel as Douglas Wambaugh
       Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
          Ray Walston as Judge Henry Bone
      *Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
          Leigh Taylor-Young as Rachel Harris
       Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
          James Earl Jones; "System Down
      *Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
          Richard Kiley as Hayden Langston; "Buried Alive"
       Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
          Marlee Matlin as Laurie Bey; "The Dancing Bandit"
      *Outstanding Costuming for a Series
          Shelly Levine, men's costume supervisor; Loree Parral, women's
          costume supervisor -- "Picket Fences" ("Dairy Queen") (CBS).
    _TV Guide_, "Cheers 'N' Jeers" Oct 01, 1994 issue
       To the sheer exuberance of Fyvush Finkel, who plays the irresponible
       public defender on *Picket Fences* ("Wambaugh for the defense,
       your honor!") on accepting his Emmy.  "I don't care how much time
       they gave me!" shouted the veteran of New York's Yiddish theater.
       "I waited 51 years to get on this stage!"  With so much of what
       passes for spontaneity on awards shows limited to outbursts of
       vulgarity or political manifestos, Finkel's delight at the podium,
       his thanks to his wife of 48 years ("I want to invite you all to
       our 50th wedding anniversary!"), and his bow to his agent in the
       best tradition of "Broadway Danny Rose" lit up the screen with
       something rare - genuine, uninhibited joy.  Finkel's graceful
       click of his heels at the end was a moment that should go into
       a TV treasure chest.  Or a show trouper's trunk.
       [Picture of Fyvush with the Emmy.  Caption:  "Fyvush Finkel:
        Graceful as well as grateful."]
    _TV Guide_, "Cheers 'N' Jeers" Oct 15, 1994 issue
       To a CBS show we usually Cheer, *Picket Fences*, for letting
       Leigh Taylor-Young go, even though she just picked up an Emmy
       for best supporting actress.  As the lusty mayor of Rome, Wis.,
       she was a rare instance of a middle-aged actress given a serious,
       if colorful, sexual life on a series.  Word is that Taylor-Young
       will make a return visit now and then, but her days as a regular
       are over.  She's not happy about her forced departure, and neither
       are we.
       [Picture of Leigh Taylor-Young at a desk.  Caption:  "Emmy winner:
        We say, don't 'Fence' her out.]
    Contributed by Henry Walter Nunes:
       The Washington Post, October 29, 1994
       October  29, 1994, Saturday, Final Edition
       LENGTH: 914 words
       HEADLINE: The Man Behind ' Picket Fences'
       BYLINE: Bill Broadway
       Picket Fences  creator David E. Kelley, 38, is a man of many wordsbut
       not spoken ones. He often locks himself in his office to write, seldom
       venturing onto the set. His colleagues (and perhaps millions of
       others) know about his marriage last November to actress Michelle
       Pfeiffer. His colleagues also know that he was a lawyer before
       becoming a writer and then executive producer for L.A. Law. But few
       could say why religion informs so many of his plots. After he sat down
       for a 35-minute interview on the subject, a colleague closely
       associated with the show asked, What did he say?
       Q.  In a recent episode, Officer Maxine Stewart enters what she thinks
       is an empty church to ponder a predicament: the unauthorized
       publication of explicit photos of her in Boudoir magazine. She finds
       District Attorney Jonathan Littleton sitting in a pew, thinking how
       he, a black man, should express his opinion at a town meeting on
       forced busing. Where does a scene like that come from?
       A.  Oh, God. I never know exactly how they originate. ... That one
       wasn't driven by a religious motivation so much as looking for a space
       someone might collect their thoughts and find some solitude.
       Did they know specifically why they're going into a church? No. Maybe
       the origin of that scene -- I know myself I've sometimes done it. Not
       as much here in L.A. because I never happen to be walking by one, but
       often when I'm walking down a street in New York or other place and I
       see a church -- and I may even walk in out of architectural curiosity.
       But when I go in, often I find myself sitting down and thinking, not
       necessarily praying, but thinking.
       Q.  So many of the explicitly religious plots of " Picket Fences"
       involve Catholics. Were you brought up Catholic?
       A.  Nope, I was brought up Protestant and very loosely too. ... I
       guess my religious inclinations are along the lines of [Sheriff] Jimmy
       Brock's, believing in God but not necessarily the rigidity of
       religion. ... Faith sort of starts up where reason, intellectual
       matters leave off. It's out there, and it's kind of hard to lasso. And
       it's that sense of religious confusion that's pervaded the Brock
       family and to a certain extent also the town of Rome, Wisconsin.
       Q. What do the people [in Rome] think about religion?
       A.  We've meant for Rome to typify the small or suburban town in
       America. It's not more religious or less so. But religion and
       religious upbringings are something that pervade the community. ...
       What we've tried to do is establish religion as one of the characters
       in the town. ... Some people pay more attention to it, some people pay
       less attention to it, but it's there.
       Q.  When Littleton is giving his closing argument in a murder case, he
       asks the jury to consider the forces of good and evil in the world, to
       look inside themselves and come out with their integrity intact. How
       do you look at morality and ethics, good and evil?
       A.  The short answer is that there is no answer. In " Picket Fences, "
       we've tried to pick [episodes] that offer ... two answers, or three
       answers or four answers.
       We do question whether or not society today does in fact have a moral
       center. It seems children are being raised ... today with a quid pro
       quo mentality. The idea is to be moral because it pays dividends: You
       will get ahead in life. ...
       It's almost the way kids are taught in school. If you study hard, you
       will get into Harvard. And if you get into Harvard, then you will get
       a great job and make lots of money -- leaving out that ... learning
       itself is a reward. And moral behavior, morality I think itself, is
       its own reward.
       Littleton in that argument and others comes from the place that you
       should ... listen to your own barometer of good and evil -- not
       because it will keep you out of jail or you'll get another reward for
       this kind of behavior, but because it itself will make you better or
       more whole.
       I guess to a certain extent some of the stuff we raise with religion
       is something the kids could grab onto ... for balance and hope.
       Q.  What does the term spirituality mean to you as opposed to
       A.  Well, they're close. But spirituality comes from feelings and
       ideas, a sense you don't know where the hell it's coming from. ...
       It's different from church.
       When I was in law school, I lived with my grandmother. I was just
       learning the Socratic method and the best way to practice was on her
       with religion. ... My grandmother would say to me ... "You believe in
       God, don't you?" And I'd say yes.
       She would say, "Well, is it too much to ask that you take one hour of
       the week and go down to church?" And I would come back at her: "I hear
       you praying in bed at night." And she said, "That's because He hears
       you at night. God's everywhere."
       "Well ... why do I have to go to church? I can talk to Him right
       "By going to church you're paying tribute to Him."
       "Aren't you applying a human characteristic, a megalomania, to this
       God? ... That makes Him somewhat insecure, doesn't it?"
       We would have these battles, but they were friendly ones. At the end
       of the discussion, she would say, "I know it's there, and someday
       you'll know it's there."
       Truth is, I've never doubted it.
       My grandmother is still alive -- she's 95 -- and still goes to church
       every Sunday, a Congregationalist church in Boston. She sings every
       hymn. The hymns you see on " Picket Fences"  -- if I miss a word, I
       call her up and ask, "What's this one?" And she'll start singing it.
       LOAD-DATE-MDC: October 28, 1994
                            The Washington Post, October 29, 1994
                          October  29, 1994, Saturday, Final Edition
       LENGTH: 1602 words
       HEADLINE: The Drama Of Faith;
       TV Show Explores Religious, Moral Choices
       BYLINE: Bill Broadway, Washington Post Staff Writer
       On Stage 20 at Twentieth Century Fox studios, the scene was set for a
       confrontation. Standing in a full-size replica of the courtroom of the
       U.S. Supreme Court, an actor prepared to address nine people in black
       robes bearing uncanny resemblances to their real counterparts in
       Washington. Behind him, men and women in dark blue suits filled the
       rows of pewlike benches.
       "Quiet! Same pickup," an assistant director said. And the cameras,
       suspending disbelief, focused on a small-town defense attorney asking
       the court to overturn his client's murder conviction. His argument:
       that police in Rome, Wis., had illegally preyed on his religious
       beliefs to elicit a confession without counsel present.
       It was a big moment for character Douglas Wambaugh of the CBS
       television program " Picket Fences"  and an example of the kind of
       conflict that has earned the show two consecutive Emmys for best
       dramatic television series.
       Now in its third season, the Friday night program has brought to prime
       time an unmatched barrage of plots turning on fine points of religion,
       ethics and law. Of the 40-plus shows that have aired, at least
       one-fourth have been driven by plots and subplots with religious
       themes -- quite a track record in Hollywood, a town that has been
       notoriously uncomfortable with religion.
       "If we're different from other shows, it isn't that we've accented
       religion, but we have not pretended that it's not there," said David
       E. Kelley, executive producer and primary writer. "We have recognized
       religion as a legitimate entity that enters people's lives. We've
       suggested it's not just the zealots, the nuts, that believe in God,
       but everyday people."
       Along with everyday people, Kelley and his writers have created a
       community with as many quirky personalities and problems as any large
       city. Each episode is punctuated with at least one weighty moral
       issue: drugs in schools, modern-day Robin Hoods, integration,
       medically assisted suicides, abortion, AIDS, school prayer, serial
       killers and kinky sex. There are never clear answers, just questions
       and an almost obsessive presentation of arguments on all sides of
       every issue.
       In an episode this spring, police discovered a closet full of women's
       shoes at the home of Father Barrett, the town's Catholic priest. The
       townspeople were forced to confront their own sexual predispositions
       as well as the issue of whether a man with a shoe fetish could be an
       effective clergyman. In the end, they voted to support him and asked
       the monsignor to let him stay.
       Last year's Christmas special featured a 20-year-old woman who was
       comatose after driving her car into an icy lake. The doctors
       determined that she was four months pregnant, but also that she was a
       virgin. The possibility of another divine pregnancy had the local
       clergy scrambling for an appropriate response and the community
       divided over whether the pregnancy should be aborted to save the
       woman's life. The religious scare -- and anticipation -- ended when a
       gynecologist was arrested after admitting that he impregnated his
       patient with a hypodermic needle without her knowledge.
       But as a personal issue, religion arises most often with the Brocks,
       the paradigmatic American family at the center of Rome and the series.
       Like many modern couples, Jimmy Brock, the town sheriff played by Tom
       Skerritt, and Jill Brock, a physician and sometime political candidate
       played by Kathy Baker, have trouble talking to their children about
       religion and even articulating their beliefs. That leaves the
       youngsters -- Kimberly, 18, Matthew, 13, and Zachary, 10 -- to fend
       for themselves.
       In this season's premiere, Zach sues the school committee, on which
       both his parents sit, for allowing a teacher to suggest in class that
       creationism, the creation of the world and humanity by God, is not
       inconsistent with scientific evolution. Meanwhile, the police find the
       body of a 16-year-old girl who has been stabbed 23 times. Like his
       father, Zach wonders how God could allow such brutality.
       Before Judge Henry Bone, in the courtroom where most episodes of "
       Picket Fences"  end up, Zach calls God a joke and the teaching of
       creationism "Catholic dogma."
       "That's the kind of insanity religion breeds," Jimmy Brock says.
       "No, no," rejoins his wife, "this is the kind of insanity bad
       parenting breeds. Jimmy, I want to start taking them to church. I
       don't just mean funerals and Easter. I mean on a regular basis." The
       episode ends with the family standing in church singing the Doxology
       -- except for Jimmy Brock, who looks blankly toward the camera.
       As an actor, Baker said, she finds the Brocks' religious struggle
       familiar "because I'm in the same place with my own family, searching
       for the right religious teachings in our lives. Jill is on the same
       journey. I can feel it strongly."
       Baker, who was brought up Protestant, is married to a man who was
       raised Catholic. They have two boys, ages 4 and 9, and have felt the
       need to find a regular place of worship. They plan to go to different
       churches and synagogues until they find a place that feels right.
       The show's combination of drama, introspection and offbeat humor seems
       to be working for Kelley, a veteran of "L.A. Law" and creator of
       "Chicago Hope," a new series on CBS. In addition to six Emmys in its
       first two seasons, " Picket Fences"  has been given awards by the
       Viewers for Quality Television, Catholics in Media, the Alzheimer's
       Association and the National Easter Seal Society.
       But not everyone has been enthralled. Michael Medved, host of "Sneak
       Previews" on PBS and an advocate for increased attention to organized
       religion in film and television, applauds the show's focus on
       religious issues but says it fails to provide balance -- as do most
       films and TV programs that address the subject.
       Despite recent efforts by Hollywood to get in touch with mainstream
       America, where 40 percent of people attend worship services weekly,
       many in the industry still harbor religious prejudices, he said.
       "Inevitably, you're dealing with people who are not terribly
       sympathetic to traditional religious faith," Medved said. So story
       lines usually present "secular people teaching something to the
       religious people" -- as when the fanatically religious doctor gets his
       comeuppance for going to such lengths to get people to "relive the
       possibility" of a virgin birth.
       Some viewers have reacted negatively as well. A Mormon-owned station
       in Seattle temporarily banned the series after a story line on a
       Mormon bigamist; Christian Scientists were outraged when physician
       Jill Brock performed an emergency Caesarean section despite the
       family's protests; and Jewish viewers have objected to the ongoing
       portrayal of Wambaugh, a lawyer whose business card reads: "Reasonable
       doubt for a reasonable fee." One wrote a letter to the New York Times,
       saying that "some Jewish readers find the depiction of the
       unremittingly Jewish lawyer to be so repugnant as to be
       Ironically, Fyvush Finkel, who portrays Wambaugh, is perhaps the most
       outwardly religious actor in the cast. "It hurt me when I read that
       letter, personally," said Finkel, who calls himself an
       Orthodox-Conservative Jew. He trained in the Yiddish Theater in New
       York and for 12 years toured with the first national company for
       "Fiddler on the Roof."
       Kelley decided to answer the criticism with an episode for which
       Finkel won an Emmy this year for outstanding supporting actor. In the
       story, Wambaugh takes the podium at a temple memorial service and
       tells a racist joke about a Jew and an Indian at the gates of heaven.
       The rabbi bans him from the temple, and a devastated Wambaugh calls
       for a bet din, a religious court, to rule on his banishment. The court
       rules that the rabbi might condemn him as a man but "not as a Jew."
       Wambaugh's crowning moment in the series comes when he realizes every
       litigator's dream of appearing before the Supreme Court, an episode
       scheduled to air Nov. 18.
       The issue turns on a scene in the two-part premiere in which Officer
       Kenny Lacos approaches a murder defendant privately, "Catholic to
       Catholic." He calls on the defendant's Christian decency to reveal the
       location of the body so the girl can be buried. "Every Christian
       deserves that," he says.
       The defendant tells Lacos, cryptically, about a pond outside town
       where a person might go to find peace. And there, of course, the
       police find the body.
       Judge Bone, played by Ray Walston, realizes the police may have
       violated the defendant's constitutional rights by taking advantage of
       his religious beliefs. But he decides to move forward anyway: "I've
       got a novel idea. I'm going to hold that a person can be deeply
       religious and still be competent" to waive his right to an attorney.
       "I don't give a damn what the Supreme Court says," Bone asserts. "I'm
       sick of the judicial system being more about winning and losing than
       it is about the truth. Mr. Lathem, you're going to trial. If the
       Supreme Court has a problem with that, they can come and get me."
       With that, the stage is set for Wambaugh's presentation in Washington.
       While he argues that the police compromised the defendant's free will
       by invoking his religious beliefs, Jonathan Littleton, the district
       attorney, takes the position that legal protections regarding
       confessions are too absolutist and should be overturned. The episode
       ends with a ruling but, as usual, no resolution.
       Don Cheadle, who plays the part of Littleton, said that even the cast
       didn't know from the script whether the defendant is innocent or
       guilty. "It's real tricky, and I guess that's why David wrote it," he
       LOAD-DATE-MDC: October 28, 1994
    _USA Today_, Friday, March 31, 31, 1995
    [provided by John David Spiropoulos, via the ROME mailing list]
    By Jefferson Graham
    USA Today
    Title: Baker's "Fences" role is what doctor ordered
       Just another night in Rome, Wis.: A sheriff's deputy arrests her boss's
       wife for the third time in three years.
       "It's also my third time in handcuffs," says Kathy Baker, Dr. Jill Brock
       on CBS's "Picket Fences."  "I think (creator) David E. Kelley has this
       thing about handcuffs.  He loves to see beautiful (deputy) Lauren Holly put
       handcuffs on me."
       This time, Jill helps a gravely ill patient die.  In a two-part episode,
       starting at 10 ET/PT tonight, she and the practice of euthanasia go on
       After a movie career that included roles in "Edward Scissorhands," "Clean
       and Sober," and "The Right Stuff," Baker is having the time of her life.
       "It's not just one of the best roles an actress can have, it's one of the
       best roles ever," says Baker, who won an Emmy for "Fences."  "Jill is so
       complex.  She's all over the map in a real and humane way."
       Jill has been through a lot this season.  The townsfolk nearly ostracized
       her for changing her mind on the student busing issue (first she was
       against it, then supported it when the town was very anti-busing).  Her
       favorite masseur, who specialized in the orgasmic "squiggly," was
       murdered.  And her son Matthew almost ran over younger brother Zach in a
       freak car accident.  Jill responded by slapping Matt hard in the face.
       "That was the toughest episode I ever did," Baker says.  "I protested
       that one loudly.  As a parent, and as someone raised as a Quaker, I don't
       believe in hitting children, and I don't believe that Jill would do that."
       Baker wants to see Jill more in the medical arena and less at home.
       Since Kelley launched "Chicago Hope" this season, the juicy medical stories
       go on that show, and folks in Rome spend more time in the courtroom.  "I
       signed up for this show to play a doctor," she says.  "Not to be in 'Rome
       But recently, a medical story that could only come from Kelley's pen was
       before the "Fences" cameras.  Priests were standing by as 10-year-old Zach
       gets a stigmata, a mark resembling the wounds of the crucified Jesus, which
       are said to appear on the bodies of saints.
       Many "Fences" cast members were miffed when Kelley's "Chicago Hope" went
       from obscurity on Thursdays to the primo Monday 10 pm time slot, where the
       rookie series has become a top 25 hit.
       "A lot of us felt like it was a big slap in the face to us," Baker says.
       "After winning all those awards (Emmys two years in a row as best drama
       series) and the fact that we'd been around for a while, we felt we
       deserved the shot at Monday night.  But I can't worry about it.  Also,
       by being tucked away cozily on Friday's, we don't have as much to answer
       to the network, and we have a loyal audience."
       "I'm also not sure I want to be in the top 10.  When I see what's there,
       I don't want to be doing that.  We're creating art, and you don't see a
       lot of art in the top 10."
       Picture: Kathy Baker
       Caption: Baker: The sheriff's wife gets arrested again on "Fences."
    USA Today - Friday, April 28, 1995
    [provided by John David Spiropoulos, via the ROME mailing list]
    TV Preview: Matt Roush
       Title: "Picket Fences" is TV's own little miracle
       Picket Fences
       CBS, tonight, 10 ET/PT
       ***1/2 (out of four)
       Hand it to "Picket Fences" for continually treading where other shows
       fear to go: into the realm of the angels, testing faith, tolerance and a
       community's value systems - in the court, the operating room, the school,
       the church - with plots that go beyond merely bizarre.
       A virgin birth?  Baby-bearing cows?  Or, like tonight, an 11-year-old
       with blood-gushing stigmata?  The town isn't called Rome for nothing: a
       cultural crossroads of confrontational allegory much more absorbing than
       the cornball piety of NBC's dud "Amazing Grace."
       This show's creator, David E. Kelley, works in mysterious ways.  Brave,
       too, when you consider the climate of knee-jerk condemnation that greets
       movies like "Priest."
       Tonight's whacked parable, written by Kelley and Nick Harding, gets under
       the skin of a town's and a family's susceptibility to holy mystery when
       young Zach Brock (Adam Wylie) - described as "an open cavity when it comes
       to God and religion" - spontaneously bleeds from his palms as he repents
       for the killing of a swan.
       Wylie, with his freckled Opie face and jug ears, is a winning waif at the
       eye of this storm.  Local clerics are skeptical: "The last thing we need
       right now is a miracle," says the priest.  While experts probe with
       electrodes, school kids line up to be healed of zits and - gulp - leukemia.
       Things are even more explosive at the Brock house, where parents who've
       long avoided head-on collisions with the spiritual must face the
       far-fetched possibility their son is a saint.
       "Rome's not going to be a quiet, ordinary little town anymore?"  quips
       Judge Bone (Ray Walston) about the hubbub.
       He jests.  Rome is never ordinary.  Just as "Picket Fences" so frequently
       is extraordinary.  Could it be heading to a third-straight best-drama Emmy?
       Picture: Kathy Baker looking at Adam Wylie's hand, with Tom Skerritt
                looking on from behind.
       Caption: Saints Alive: The Brocks (Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker) wonder if
                their son (Adam Wylie) is blessed.

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