tv the good wife lee wire

2013-08-15T00:01:08Z tv the good wife lee wireBruce Miller - Special to the Daily Herald Daily Herald
August 15, 2013 12:01 am  • 

It's a classic "misdirect."

At the end of last season's "The Good Wife," Julianna Marguilies' Alicia looked like she was going to open the door on a new relationship.

Instead, she's cracking a career move.

When the season begins, she'll consider leaving the law firm and joining friend Cary in a new venture.

"We've interviewed a lot of partners and agencies about what it's like when they leave and take clients," says Executive Producer Robert King. "And it's a ... storm."

Margulies says she's probably considering it because "if she stays there, in her peripheral vision, (there) will always be Will and she can't move forward with her commitment to saying yes to becoming First Lady of Illinois. In her heart of hearts, she thinks that's the smart move."

Life imitates art

The Emmy-winning series' hot-button issue -- a politician cheating on his wife -- is so pervasive now it's not hard to see real people going through "Good Wife" situations.

When New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner held a news conference to announce that he continued sexting after his first misstep, Margulies was taken by his wife's posture. She had "a sort of soulless look. Her body was empty. Her soul was somewhere else and she was just going through the motions, which is what I think we tried to do in the pilot, where you actually go on auto-pilot."

Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife and a longtime Hillary Clinton aide, "hasn't been given a chance to react yet," Margulies says. "My initial thought was just complete compassion and empathy for her because people are so quick to judge. Having played this character now for four going on five years, I have to see it differently. Everyone being able to comment on someone's downfall can be very damaging."

The situation became so meta at one point a New York newspaper ran a story: "Tips for Huma from Alicia Florrick."

Among the offerings: "Don't read the paper. Don't turn on the television. Go back to work. Bury your head and don't be a Teflon pan."

"I felt proud for a minute that we were part of maybe a solution for someone who is going through something difficult," Margulies says. " I also feel slightly guilty that it really is the gift that keeps on giving."

Changing course

The idea that "Good Wife" will focus on Alicia Florrick's professional life this season pleased Margulies.

Had it continued to probe romance, it would have gotten old, she says, and it would "undermine these characters."

The key to successful episodes, King says, is character, not theme. "Always follow the characters. Yes, you're making them up as you go along but there's also something in the character that drives you one way or the other."

Using guest stars for opposing lawyers, clients and judges has opened up the possibilities and given "The Good Wife" ample representation in the Emmy Awards.

Martha Plimpton appeared in an episode as a pregnant lawyer and, says King, "we had so much fun it was like, 'Get her back.' " Plimpton returned and has won an Emmy for her work. Michael J. Fox has been a recurring character, too. "F. Murray Abraham wanted to come back because the wardrobe was so good."

Because it's set in the Chicago legal world "you could have people crossing and it wouldn't feel contrived," Executive Producer Michelle King says. "The legal world is of that size."

News prompts stories

While political scandals are likely story sources, Robert King says, other news can also prompt episodes. "The Edward Snowden issue this year with the NSA and PRISM is just fascinating. It's one of the benefits we have over some of the cable shows. You can write something and, then, pretty close to six to seven weeks later, it can be on the air. That gives you the ability to comment on what everybody is talking about at that moment."

Often, King says, "The Good Wife" is like a magazine. There are columns and there are feature stories. "The feature article is just something in the writers room or something coming down the pike."

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