As the following article explains, Hollywood is going to make a TV show about a Harris County prosecutor. This is your chance to get involved in the casting. Who should play Kelly Siegler? What about the judge, defense attorney and, most importantly, the elected DA for Houston?
Life of a local prosecutor charms the small screen
Kelly Siegler's persona may be captured on TV
By ANDREW TILGHMAN
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
Harris County prosecutor Kelly Siegler is best known for her courtroom tactics.
A case in point is the murder trial in March when she brought a bloody mattress into the courtroom and demonstrated how Susan Wright stabbed her husband more than 200 times.
Now Siegler ? or at least her professional persona ? is making inroads in the entertainment world.
"The whole thing just screams television show," Gina Matthews, a Los Angeles-based producer, said about Siegler's style and biography.
Variety magazine reports that the ABC television network has paid more than $250,000 to develop a pilot program for a one-hour fictional drama set in Houston with a main character based on Siegler, a Harris County prosecutor with rural roots and unorthodox trial tactics.
The show, which will be considered for a prime-time slot in fall 2005, will be written by Gary Glasberg, who helped produce the script for Crossing Jordan, now in its fourth season on NBC.
Siegler, who is head of the major offender division of the district attorney's office and who will be in court Monday to start a capital murder trial, has signed on as a consultant with the show.
"They were calling and, at first, I was like, 'Yeah, right.' " Siegler said. "I think that it's amazing that something like this happened to me, when everybody down here does the same job as I do."
"We all work just as hard to try to make everything turn out the right way," she said.
Capturing TV appeal
A talent agent contacted Siegler after she drew national attention during the Wright trial. Television cameras caught Siegler straddling another prosecutor on top of a blood-stained mattress, acting out a detailed demonstration of how Wright seduced her husband and tied him up with neckties and a bathrobe sash.
"One of the things that appealed to all of us collectively is just Kelly as a character for television," Matthews said. "She is such a strong woman. She's a smart woman and she's an incredibly successful woman."
Siegler's courtroom style is based in part on the belief that jurors have become conditioned by legal dramas such as Law and Order or C.S.I.
"She feels she has to really capture a jury's attention in order to equalize that. And the performances she puts on are sort of worthy of the very television shows we are writing," Glasberg said.
"She is giving us a wealth of material just in terms of who she is," Glasberg said.
Houston as backdrop
Siegler hosted Matthews and Glasberg for a visit to Houston, where they toured the Harris County district attorney's office and met Siegler's co-workers.
The show's location is a key selling point for network executives.
"People feel like Boston and Los Angeles and New York have been used to such an extent for legal shows. We are looking for something fresh, and when I walked in and pitched Kelly in Houston, people felt like they hadn't seen that before," Glasberg said.
It is not the first time Houston has been a television backdrop. Last year, TBS, in conjunction with Lowe's home stores, began airing a reality show about home remodeling here. In 2002, a medical reality show, Houston Medical, was shown on ABC.
Previous programs include the CBS police show Houston Knights and the ABC medical drama Buck James.
Glasberg and the executive producers also visited Siegler's Matagorda County hometown of Blessing, a pastoral hamlet of roughly 1,000 people about 100 miles southwest of Houston. They met Siegler's father, Billy Jalufka, who runs a combination barbershop-liquor store and also has served as a local justice of the peace.
"I fell in love with Kelly's background and her family," Glasberg said. " I really want to sort of draw off of that and use her small-town roots as a way that she sort of grounds herself."
Selecting an actress to play Siegler's character may happen next year, if the network approves the show. "They say their big decision is, 'Do we pick an old one or a young one ? to them old is 35,' " said Siegler, who is 42.
"All I said was, 'No dingbats,' " she said.
Either they deliver the real deal or none at all as far as I'm concerned. If Audie Murphy could do it, Kelly certainly can. I just hate the thought of giving the bad guys in Houston a break during shooting.
I don't know. It sounds like Hollywood wants youth.
And, frankly, this story is too big for TV. This thing has to be a movie franchise. Sort of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Criminal Defendants.
This could be the big break that Brittney is looking for to get into movies in a big way. The tougher casting decision, however, is the prosecutor who gets tied to the bed. Perhaps a cameo by Paul Rubens.
Anyone got other ideas? I know Kelly wants to hear from you.
[This message was edited by John Bradley on 10-18-04 at .]
Holly Hunter. End of discussion.
John, I think this takes Brittney out of the running ...
I agree with Bruce. Kelly stars in the series, or movie (I like that idea), or no deal!
How about Ellen Barkin. I know she is older now, but she looked pretty impressive in Sea of Love frisking Al Pacino. And she played a prosecutor in The Big Easy, didn't she?
Texan, non-dingbat, strong, and would add her Oscar win as that perfect touch of class to the small screen.
"I don't know. It sounds like Hollywood wants youth." John Bradley
Oh how easy it is to say such things when Kelly is in Houston and you are safely in G-town!
I was surprised to log on and see Shane suggest Holly Hunter, because that's who I was thinking of, too. She's tough, can do a Texas accent, and she's about Kelly's size. We definitely don't want one of those tall, willowy model types like they have on Law & Order. Or maybe Jodie Foster. She's tough as nails, too. But I do like the Ellen Barkin idea. And my husband is a big Ellen Barkin fan. Problem is, I don't think these actresses do TV. So who is there on TV that would work? I'm drawing a blank.
I'd love to see Janine Turner back on the small screen (other than doing commercials for some weird drug for people who can't cry). She's petite, she's brunette, she's done TV, AND she's from Texas (Ft. Worth, if memory serves).
Angie Harmon. She's a Texan. Kelly, chime in. Who would you like to play you?
So who gets to play the male prosecutor that is tied to the bed in the murder/stabbing reinactment?
The actor on the bed should be Charlie Sheen or Rob Lowe.
Plus--if you put Rob Lowe in the underling role--he brings his own camera--no film crew needed.
She's been a lawyer in a murder before.
Plot Summary for
A judge commits suicide, and his secretary is found murdered. A homeless deaf-mute man, Carl Anderson is arrested for her murder. Public defender Kathleen (Cher) is assigned by the court as his lawyer. She sets to find the real killer, and gets help from the congressional advisor, Eddie Sanger (Dennis Quaid) who is called to be on the jury panel. Together they discover a dangerous circle of corruption in high places.
I nominate Susan Sarenden (sp?) for the defendant and as a real stretch Tim Robbins the decreased. A little morose, but....
Keep those casting ideas coming, but now it is time to begin thinking of story ideas. The pilot obviously will focus on the Susan Wright stabbing case, closing with the bed in the courtroom, but what happens after that? What harrowing adventures does a prosecutor face every day?
Episode 2: Kelly asks TDCJ for a pen packet.
In a gripping, suspenseful plot, Kelly gets to the punishment stage of a trial and finds that the prints on her pen packet are unreadable. With no time to spare, she races to the booking officer and gets a booking card with another set of prints. She then breathlessly puts on a fingerprint examiner to prove up identity. But, in a sudden story twist, the jury hangs after arguing for 12 straight hours over the difference between life and 99 years.
No way could Susan Serandon play a prosecutor. Specially one that recreates a stabbing. Defense attorney, absolutely.
Episode 3: During trial, Judge leaves with defense attorney for two hour lunch.
On previous note, I would agree with Jodie Foster or Angie Harmon. Sharon Stone knows a thing or two about beds and stabbings.
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