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David E. Kelley takes on reality shows

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HOLLYWOOD, California (Variety) -- Producer David E. Kelley is preparing to launch a broadside against reality TV -- and he's recruited some of television's top executives to help him do it.

The scribe is putting the finishing touches on an episode of his ABC drama "The Practice" that's tentatively titled "Les Is More," according to numerous industry insiders who've seen a draft script.

In the episode, a deranged woman takes CBS Television president Leslie Moonves hostage and tries to sell CBS a reality show about the kidnapping -- and a possible execution of the network president.

While ex-thesp Moonves has made several cameo appearances on various CBS shows over the years, his part on "The Practice" is described as a meaty part that will feature him throughout the episode. 20th Century Fox TV president Sandy Grushow and, if he's asked to take part, NBC programming chief Jeff Zucker, will likely be seen in a brief fake news report in which the two offer comments on the situation. Zucker hasn't been formally approached about making the cameo, but a part has been written for him, insiders said. (20th Century Fox TV produces the series.)

The script is expected to take shots at all the networks. Insiders said the plot will likely have Fox executives offering a plan to save Moonves' life but in a way that would allow the network to score big ratings. NBC likely also will take some hits.

Curiously, no ABC executives have been asked to take part in the episode. Network officials are aware of the episode and have approved it.

Kelley was furious with ABC earlier this year when the network decided to move "The Practice" to Mondays at 9 p.m., where the series immediately ran into the reality juggernaut that was "Joe Millionaire." The Emmy-winning legal drama has taken a major ratings hit since shifting into its new slot, though its numbers edged up a bit this week.

A 20th Century Fox rep said the studio had no comment on future "Practice" plotlines.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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