Spader and Shatner: partners in mischief

Times Staff Writer

Actors James Spader and William Shatner, whose roles as eccentric yet oddly endearing lawyers on “The Practice” won each an Emmy earlier this year, were honored again Monday with Golden Globe nominations for spinoff roles in ABC’s much lighter “Boston Legal.”

Spader was nominated for best actor in a dramatic television series for his role as Alan Shore, an unscrupulous attorney who was fired from his firm and moved to Crane, Poole and Schmidt on “Boston Legal.”

Shatner, nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting series role, plays senior partner Denny Crane, a jaw-jutting veteran whose memory fails at crucial moments.


“It’s a kick,” Shatner said about being nominated. “The foreign critics have gotten more and more sophisticated over the years. It’s become really significant to be nominated, and I feel honored.”

Shatner said his humorous and offbeat relationship with Spader was a “shotgun marriage officiated over” by creator David E. Kelley.

Their on-screen chemistry comes from a genuine fondness off-screen. “He has a penchant for detail and the truth, and it’s wonderful to watch him perform,” Shatner said of Spader.

Airing Sundays at 10 p.m., “Boston Legal” is not as popular as “Desperate Housewives,” which it follows. But it averages a respectable 12 million viewers. The show itself was left out of the best series nominations, making the Spader/Shatner team loom large as a key ingredient.

Bill D’Elia, a producer and director of the show, said he thinks Shatner and Spader are charismatic because they differ in background and technique. Spader comes from the film world and wants to explore on set, he said. Shatner has had a career in television and wants to get the job done.

“I think we’re a show on the rise,” D’Elia said.