Q & A - Do Not Block Ally

Ally McBeal--Fox's spunky, Harvard-educated lawyer with a penchant for fitted suits, and short skirts, and bare legs (sans stilettos)--has captured the heart of America and the ire of the dress-code persnickety. Played by 32-year-old Calista Flockhart, she makes up to 11 changes per episode, wearing everything from Armani suits and DKNY Lycra tops to Laundry skirts, Bebe T-shirts, and Parallel jackets. "Ally's not a label monger," says costume designer Loree Parral. "It's more like, 'Yeah, that's a good suit. I'll get that.' She cant afford the biggest closet, so she has fun being creative with how she mixes and matches." Her character is written by producer David E. Kelley (who also created The Practice, Picket Fences, and Chicago Hope). Here he gives us the lowdown on prime time's latest icon.
Why is America so riled about a lawyer in a short skirt?
The fact that Ally would dress a little differently shouldn't shock anyone's sensibilities. It's a comedy, and it's about a character who is very unconventional and atypical in almost every way. So when people say, "How about those skirts?" I say, "What about them?"
Did you have a physical image of Ally when you created her?
As written, she was a good-looking, attractive woman whose emotional and personal life was very unfulfilled. But we wanted that lack of fulfillment to lie in her emotional and psychological liabilities. I didn't want to suggest, in any way that it was because psychically she wasn't attractive.
How does Ally deal with walking the fine line between smart and sexy?
We've given her enough insecurity that she would take the extra five minutes in front of the mirror, that she'd make sure she looked right. She's secure as a lawyer, and insecure as a woman. She exudes strength and weakness, sophistication and triviality all at the same time. She's a character who walks down the street and thinks she wants to shun society because she feels disenfranchised but at the same time thinks, But then I wont get to wear my outfit. She admits that, which is refreshing; a lot of people don't like to admit to their vanities.
Do you have any explanation for the Ally-mania?
I'm happy that women out there Identify with her, but if Ally is anything, she's her own person. Viewers may identify with her one minute, but be shocked by her the next. So when someone says, "That's me, I'm Ally," I say, "Well, be careful."

-Kristina Zimbalist