December 04, 2002

KELLEY'S NO HERO: Andrew and

KELLEY'S NO HERO: Andrew and Mickey have been on the story the last few days about David E. Kelley, the writer/producer of such TV shows as "The Practice," "Ally McBeal," "Boston Public," and many others. Kelley recently wrote an episode of "The Practice" that dealt with the recent priest sex abuse scandals in Boston and ended with the show's protagonist, Bobby Donnell, choosing to leave the Catholic Church. The New York Times ran a piece a month ago about the episode with the headline "A Catholic Writer Brings His Anger to 'The Practice.'" The article gave the impression that Kelley is a devout Catholic who became disillusioned with his faith as a result of the scandals and chose to deal with that anger through his work. One problem though- Kelley is not Catholic. According to a correction published last week, the writer was raised Protestant- a fact he apparently kept from the piece's author and didn't exactly rush to point out after publication.
What I find especially shady about this story is that it took almost a month for the correction to be published. By contrast, I share an anecdote from Thomas Friedman's "From Beirut to Jerusalem." Friedman, who at the time was Jerusalem correspondent for the Times, had learned the names of the new cabinet that was in place after the 1984 Israeli elections, and his assistant dictated the list to his secretary in New York:
"When he got to the Minister of Religious Affairs, he said 'Veteran National Religious Party leader Yosef Burg...' Well, the person taking dictation in New York heard "Bedouin" instead of "veteran." Sure enough, when the cabinet list was published it said 'Bedouin National Religious Party leader Yosef Burg.' Burg was an Orthodox Jew; a bigger mistake would be difficult to make. The first edition of the New York Times hits the streets at about 11:00 PM. At 11:01 PM someone called Burg in Israel, and at 11:02 PM he or one of his staff called the Times. By 11:03 PM the Cabinet list had been corrected for later editions."
When the New York Times mis-stated Yosef Burg's religion, it took him all of two minutes to call and correct the mistake. When the Times mis-stated David E. Kelley's religion, it took him three weeks. Why do you suppose that was? Could it be because Kelley knew the truth would expose him as a fraud? You'd think he'd be able to afford better PR people...

Posted by Stephen Silver at December 4, 2002 12:14 AM
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