Series cancelled before their time rarely fare well at the Emmys in their last go-around. But NBC’s Harry’s Law defied the odds, landing two noms for its second and final season — the same as last year. Star Kathy Bates earned her second nom in the best actress in a drama series category, and Jean Smart was nominated in the guest actress field for her recurring role as D.A. Roseanna Remmick. David E. Kelley’s legal dramedy was nominated in the same categories last year, winning for guest actor (Paul McCrane). Emmy winner Kelley said he didn’t have any expectations going into Emmy season. “Once you out of sight, you tend to go out of mind,” he said. Nevertheless, “we knew we had first-class actress in Kathy Bates, and Jean Smart had a terrific turn. We just adore Kathy and still feel that she deserved better with the show.”
Bates proved her chops with two Emmy noms today, including a guest-starring nod for her her turn as Charlie Harper’s ghost on Two And A Half Men. “I’m thrilled and honored most particularly about Harry’s Law which has been near and dear to my heart and I miss so much already,” said the actress, who shared her sadness over the cancellation of the series back in May.
Harry’s Law was a TV rarity — a series with a sixtysomething woman as the lead. It faced an uphill battle from the get-go, launching in midseason 2011 with no promotion, Kelley said. “They didn’t think the show had any chance but surprisingly, we did catch on in our first year and over the two-year run, we were (NBC’s) No. 1-No. 2 scripted series (in total viewers),” he said. While very soft in the 18-49 demo, Harry’s Law drew audiences. This past season that led to the cancellation, it was NBC’s second most-watched drama series with 8.8 million viewers, just a smidgen behind Smash, which had a Super Bowl-boosted launch and NBC’s biggest series, The Voice, as a lead-in. With those numbers, “we did hold out some hope that, on a network that does not have a whole lot of success, we may have a chance, but it didn’t work out at the end,” Kelley said. “They loved the show but said they couldn’t monetize it because the viewers were too old. The fact that they would say that was scary, the idea that they can’t monetize 8-9 million viewers gave me a pause.” Because he loved the experience working on the show, Kelley wanted to keep going and pondered starting a “fight to change the nature of the business.” But being a storyteller at heart, Kelley ultimately chose to move on and is now working on his new series, TNT’s medical drama Monday Mornings, which was picked up to series the same week Harry’s Law was cancelled. The cancellation struck a chord with fans who still mourn the loss of their show. Even this morning I received a “Please help bring back Harry’s Law!” email from a fan, one of hundreds I’ve gotten since May. My item about the cancellation of Harry’s Law has become one of Deadline’s top stories ever, gathering some 900 comments to date and counting, virtually all lamenting the show’s demise.
Kelley said that the fans’ reaction to the cancellation has been gratifying. “If you you go out, it’s better to go out loved,” he said. And despite NBC’s axing of his show, Kelley says he doesn’t hold a grudge and respects new NBC topper Bob Greenblatt. Kelley’s move to TNT for Monday Mornings, hiss first cable series, does not mean a move away from broadcast, he said. “I still love broadcast TV; I started off on LA Law, so I have strong feelings for NBC and want to be part of its resurrection if that happens.”