Remembering Paul Newman, By Dahlia Lithwick

Here's why Dahlia Lithwick is one of favorite writers. She wrote this and this the same day.


Socializing Risk, Privatizing Profit...

Ok, it's off topic, but I have to weigh in on this bailout situation. It's not that I'm against injecting liquidity into the economy, it seems clear that's necessary, nor am I even dead set against the idea of buying some bad securities. What I'm against is allowing greedy billionaires to suck down more cash like its Schlitz in a frat house beer bong.

Our government needs to learn from Sweden, which back in the early 90's put about 4 percent of it's GDP into a bailout. The thing is, it took equity positions in the places it saved, requiring banks and other distressed companies to hurt shareholders and rich directors as well.

Now personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the FBI compile a list of the 25,000 people who profited most from this--the biggest conspiracy to defraud in several generations, and offer everyone on that list amnesty in exchange for disgorging 20% of the money they've made in the past four years from all this. But as usual, the calls to "just move on" will leave the Billionaires safe on their yachts swigging vintage champagne, while the hard working people of middle america mortgage their children's futures to pay for yet another case of Cristal.


Obviously, the feelings that current and former PD's have about the show are important to me. As I've said here, and in comments on other blogs, I has always been my goal to finally portray a public defender who (long hair or otherwise) actually cares about the clients he represents, and show clients as what they really are: human beings with complex lives, who have sometimes done terrible things. And while it might be easier to just not read reviews or give a crap about what other people think about what you do, I actually do care, so it's really heartening to get comments like these:

Another PD here. I love the show and congrats being picked up for the 2nd season.
Especially enjoyable are the clients seeming like real people with real problems.

Or even:

Congrats David!
I was one of the ones who really hated the pilot, but was willing to hang in there and give the regular episodes a chance to win me over. From what I've seen, the original nose dive/tailspin is now on a serious altitude climb. I'm seeing more & more of what I was expecting originally. I must confess....I am having GREAT difficulty staying up late enough to watch the shows. So I had to watch the feed at the TNT site for the episode that I missed.
Anyway...your making us PD's proud! Hats off to ya!
Lil Spicy

Now, obviously, I welcome thoughts and feedback, and totally understand that different people have different reactions to the show, but amid the crush of people questioning my motivations, or just being mean, it's nice to get a little encouragement from the folks on our side of the courtroom.

So thanks.


Season Two!

Yes, it's true, we've already been picked up for a second season!

As the LA Times reports it: "After just three episodes have aired, TNT has ordered a second season of "Raising the Bar"

Steven Bochco's legal drama, starring the controversial long locks of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, premiered this month to 7.7 million viewers -- the biggest audience ever for a new-series launch on ad-supported cable TV.

To date, the per-average episode is 5.5 million viewers. "Bar" airs Mondays at 10 p.m.


The Hair Game...

Here's another reason I really love working with Turner and TNT. They're not only smart, not only respectful of the creative process, but they've got a sense of humor. Their reaction to all the distracting crap about Jerry's hair? This totally awesome Raising the Bar Game in which you can just replace Jerry's hair with whatever you want it to be.

For those of you who have known me for decades, this may evoke memories of the famed Hanna Grey Hairstyles Edition of FOTQ!

Episode Three Tonight @ Bowery Wine Co.


Hilarious Hat Eating from the New York Post...

You just gotta love the New York Post when it tries to explain why Raising the Bar worked even though they dissed it.

The piece begins with an admission: "TNT's new legal drama,"Raising the Bar," did something very unusual last week - it succeeded."

Of course what follows is a pan in the form of an apology. Basically they blame the viewers for being stupid. Really. Here's what they say:

"Raising the Bar' is nothing out of the ordinary," says industry analyst Marc Berman of Mediaweek.

But that ordinariness, it seems, may have been why it became an instant hit - and why cable and broadcast TV are now impossible to tell apart.

"It's formulaic," says Berman, "which works because viewers are comfortable with that."

"Critics are almost totally irrelevant," says Fordham University's Paul Levinson, professor of communications and media studies.

"TV critics write to entertain their readers with clever takes on shows - but those readers watch what they want."



Judges Sleeping With DA's???

Can't make this stuff up. Or can you?

Week Two Performance...

Episode 2 aired last night. Here's the early news...

"RAISING THE BAR continued to perform extremely well in its second week, delivering an audience of 5 million viewers, 4 million households, 1.6 million adults 18-49 and 2.2 million adults 25-54.

After two weeks, RAISING THE BAR’s average of 6.4 millions viewers ranks it fourth (behind Seasons 2, 3 and 4 of THE CLOSER) among ad-supported cable’s top series of all time."


A conflict comes to light?

With the questions about conflicts of interest in our fictional world of Raising the Bar, it's rather instructive to read about a guy about to be executed after being convicted in a trial in which the prosecutor was, what'dya know? sleeping with the judge.

The guy has been on death row for almost 20 years, even though the affair was "common knowledge" around the courthouse. My favorite bit though, is what one judge said as the condemned man's lawyers tried one last tactic to force the judge and DA to testify: The judge, Robert T. Dry set a hearing for two days after Mr Hood (the condemned guy) was supposed to be executed remarking “In reality, you are exploring a civil lawsuit for the estate of Mr. Hood.” Wait! Judges do that kind of thing? Yep. All the time.


Indefensible Tip...

Just FYI, it appears that Amazon is now sold out of the book--but you can still find it cheap at Barnes and

'Raising the Bar' and Clearing It in the Ratings

WaPo sings a different tune today...

Steven Bochco set a new record Monday when his premiering TNT lawyer drama, "Raising the Bar," clocked 7.7 million viewers. It was the biggest audience ever for a new-series launch on an ad-supported cable network.

Bochco's show, co-starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and his hair, beat the record set in 2004 by USA's launch of "The 4400." That show opened with an average of 7.4 million tuned in; runner-up was TNT's "The Closer," which clocked 7 million viewers when it was unveiled in '05.

Bochco also got to thumb his nose at broadcasters: "Bar" trounced everything served up Monday across prime time by ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or CW -- except NBC's "Deal or No Deal," and the network had to give away a million bucks to get 11 million viewers to watch that episode.

Among the shows attracting far smaller crowds than "Bar" was the highly hyped return of Fox's "Prison Break," which logged an average 6.5 million viewers. Also, the hysterically hyped second-season debut of CW's "Gossip Girl," which paled in comparison when 3.4 million tuned in.

Behind the scenes with me...


How'd we do?

Stephen Bochco court drama scores highest viewer, household totals of any new basic-cable show ever; best 18-49 numbers of year for any new basic-cable series.

We done good.
Thanks to all.

RCN Class Action Lawsuit...

Guess who the plaintiff in this one is?

RCN Class Action Lawsuit
In October of 2007, Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart filed a class action lawsuit against RCN Corporation ("RCN"), on behalf of all RCN customers who have had difficulty or have been prevented from canceling Internet, telephone or cable services from RCN.

I. Plaintiff's Factual Allegations
As set forth in the complaint, lead Plaintiff alleges, on behalf of a class of similarly-situated subscribers, that RCN employs unjust or unreasonable practices to delay or prevent its customers from canceling their services, such as freezing subscribers' telephone numbers, placing callers who wish to cancel on hold for inordinately long periods of time, and transferring them from one department to another. Further, RCN fails to provide its customers with a reasonable procedure for canceling their services or transferring them to another provider, as the only way to RCN services is by calling the RCN service department. As a result of such practices, customers have had to spend countless hours on the phone with RCN's customer service and/or pay more for services to RCN than they would have had to pay to RCN's competitors.

II. Relief Sought

The class action complaint specifically seeks:

(1) to enjoin RCN from continuing is deceptive and unlawful business practices;
(2) to require RCN to provide a reasonable means for customers to cancel their RCN services;
(3) the disgorgement of all profits accrued as a result of RCN's deceptive practices; and
(4) the awarding of actual damages to Plaintiff and the members of the class of customers who have had difficulty or been prevented from canceling telephone services from RCN.

The PD's weigh in...

Some love it,some hate it. More accurately, lots of PD's hate it, and most for similar reasons. I understand. And here's what I have to say (this is from my response to Seth (link above):


It being 1 am, I'm too tired to attempt all ten questions. So for now, all I'll add is this. I'm not surprised you didn't like the pilot, and I'm not surprised by the things that upset you. Give it time.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

It's a process. I'm proud of my book. It nails what I want to say, but it's easy to write a book that's pure, It's just you and an editor, and if you're lucky a few ten thousands of people will read it. Doing a TV show is different. The scale, the money, the interests involved all require some shifting of expectations, some compromise.

You can talk about The Wire. It was a fine show, but do you know how many people watched it? Fewer than a million. If we post numbers anything like that, you won't have to worry about RTB, we'll get canned in a heartbeat.

I don't mind your judgments. I'd prefer it if they were gentle given that I've given over a dozen years to direct representation, and fought my heart out for our clients and their cause, but go ahead and judge. But as you do, judge me too on this: Are the clients drawn humanely? Do the lawyers genuinely care about them no matter what they've done? Do the PD's fight passionately for every client? Does the show depict the system as fundamentally broken? Does the show confront issues of race and class?

If the sense is that the show does those things well, I'd ask for some leeway in the relationship stuff. Wait and see what happens. Give the show a chance. The script was the first one I ever wrote. Sure there are clunky parts, and sure it'd be better if I wrote it today. So watch three or four more. If you still hate the show, pull the plug. But give me the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, I was touched by this:

What I loved particularly, of course, the red meat for me, was the defense attorney telling the judge exactly what he thought of her. Boy do I know that judge! And boy do I know the feelings and thoughts that public defender expressed! And boy have I been there — exactly there — including where the judge says “I’m punishing your client b/c I don’t like you” but then says, “well, I didn’t exactly say that, did I?” And also I’ve been exactly there where the judge demands/requires an apology, whether I mean it or not. Kiss the ring the judge says. My situation was not in the middle of some case or contempt charge so it was a little different. My supervisor didn’t go to the judge on my behalf; instead, the judge complained to my supervisor about me so I’m the one who visited the judge and actually did apologize in a general way, explaining that I was just trying to do my job and I hope the judge understood that, then biting my tongue when the judge didn’t seem to hear a thing I’d said and then told me that the best way I could help my clients was to make sure I did not anger a judge, because, well, judges try not to hold it against a defendant when the judge is mad at the defendant’s attorney, but that’s not always easy so the best thing to do is just not make the judge mad in the first place. See? Got it bucko? My way, or the highway! So, yeah, different, but boy can I relate!