Actor James Spader Gets in 'Practice'

06/12/2003 at 11:35 AM EDT

"Sex, Lies and Videotape" actor James Spader, who has made a career out of playing smarmy Yuppies, is in final talks to join ABC's "The Practice" now that the show is replacing outgoing cast members Dylan McDermott, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kelli Williams, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Marla Sokoloff and Chyler Leigh.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Spader, 43, will join Camryn Manheim, Michael Badalucco, Steve Harris and Jessica Capshaw on the 8-year-old series. His role would be that of a character named Alan Shore, described by the trade paper as a complicated and ethically challenged lawyer.

"It is a writer's dream to work with an actor as multifaceted and layered as James Spader is," said series creator and producer David E. Kelley, who reputedly was swayed to hire Spader after catching his performance as the sadistic boss in last year's movie "Secretary."

"I've been a fan of his for some time and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity for us to work together," Kelly added.

Spader's pervious TV work included his memorable 1997 role as 12-step-program follower, Jason "Stanky" Hanky, on "Seinfeld," and he recently appeared on the FX TV movie "The Pentagon Papers."

The dramatic downsizing of the Boston law firm of Donnell, Young, Dole & Flutt, which resulted in the ousting of McDermott and the others, is being blamed on the drastic reduction -- an estimated 50 percent -- of the licensing fee paid by ABC for the Emmy-winning series.

Kelley also reportedly wished to follow the lead of "Law & Order" and "ER," which have revolving doors when it comes to casting.

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