Previewing DOUBT with Katherine Heigl and Tony Phelan

From Grey’s Anatomy executive producers Tony Phelan and Joan Rater comes Katherine Heigl’s new legal drama, Doubt.  CBS recently held a press conference with Phelan and Heigl on the threshold of the series premiere to talk the world of Doubt and possibilities of life after a thirteen-episode run.

On the heels of her work with Grey’s, Heigl admits her interest in the series was peaked since previously working with the pair and being aware of “how talented, smart, and amazing their work is,” though the work was not written with her in mind.  Heigl says, “When I read the pilot, and then talked to them, I was so blown away by the character and by their story outline for the season.  I was so excited to get to be a part of it.  It’s a character I really respect and admire.  I love playing a smart, ambitious, and talented woman like her.  She’s also charming and sexy, an overall dream character to play.

“But, you never know how it’s all going to come alive.  And, the dynamic among us as characters and actors just came alive in such an engaging way.”

Heigl is amazed at the complexity involved with “something as simple as approaching a jury, giving an opening statement or a closing statement.  You’re really trying to rope these people on to your side.”  She expresses gratitude that there are people on set with legal experience to help steer her in the right direction.

Phelan sees the series settling in for the long haul, “The structure of this show is to not only have a procedural, but to have a procedural with personal elements.  The great thing about a legal series like this is that every day in the news, online, or just talking with different lawyers, we see hundreds of possible storylines that could walk in the door.  Coupled with that is the great advantage we have with this tremendous cast.  Joan and I get very excited as the program goes on, knowing that we serve up an acting challenge for this cast.  And, certainly, we are beginning to knock around what we could do in a second season, leaving season one on a great cliffhanger, delivering that to the audience, and coming up with a satisfying way to move on from that cliffhanger and see where everybody’s lives are gonna go beyond episode 13 of season one.  We hope the audience is as invested in the characters as we are.“ 

One of the challenges facing Heigl’s character, defense attorney Sadie Ellis, is that she falls in love with one of her clients.  Heigl confesses, “and that’s not kosher.  There’s a lot that she’s emotionally dealing with.  Her mother is in prison, scheduled for a parole hearing, and she works for her surrogate father’s law firm, all while still trying to maintain a level of professionalism and trying to do her job well.  By the end of the season, all of it culminates into an amazing moment.  I’m excited to see what might happen next season with the outcome of all of this.”  

Phelan adds, “When you have a client that’s charged with a serious crime, that client is in some ways entirely reliant on you.  And in the case of Billy (Steven Pasquale), who’s been in jail four months, Sadie has been his lifeline to the outside.  So you put your hopes and your dreams on this one person.  Also, interestingly, each of these characters comes from a broken home but in different ways.  And, in a weird way, they find each other and they’re perfect for each other.  But, the confines of their professional relationship make it so they can’t be with each other.  We see Sadie struggle with this passion, but, as Billy’s attorney, she can’t cross the line.”

Doubt premieres on CBS on February 15 at 10 P.M.