By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar-winning actress Kathy Bates' role as a curmudgeonly lawyer in new TV drama "Harry's Law" was written for a man, but Bates says Harriet (Harry) Korn, who gets fired from her blue-chip law firm at age 60, comes very close to Bates' own persona.
"She fit me like a glove and I couldn't wait to get to work on her," Bates, 62, said on Tuesday ahead of the Jan 17 premiere of the new series from "Ally McBeal" creator David E. Kelley.
"She is very forceful but eccentric and lovable, and at the same time she has a hard time showing her love for people.
"In my private life, I am just as curmudgeonly as Harriet and I share some of her disillusion. She doesn't suffer fools gladly. She has a very irreverent sense of humor, which I do also. She tells it like it is. Sometimes I think David has been doing some kind of background research on me, the lines are so close," the star of the 1990 movie thriller "Misery" told journalists in a conference call.
"Harry's Law" is one of two highly-anticipated new drama series from NBC as the network struggles to find fresh hits from a costly reinvestment in scripted programing.
"The Cape," a heavily-promoted, modern take on superheroes, gets its two-hour premiere on Sunday on NBC.
"Harry's Law" is the newest entry in a crowded field of law and crime shows on U.S. TV, but under Emmy-award winning writer Kelley it takes a different angle on justice. There's not a lot of traditional courtroom drama, and none of the power suits and posh offices usually seen in TV legal series.
In addition, Bates plays an anti-hero who gets a fresh start on her career by opening a walk-in office in an abandoned shoe store.
"What the series really explores is how justice and the law don't really coincide. There is a lot of alternative dispute resolution. We are going into nooks and crannies that involve justice but not necessarily through the legal system and that has been great fun for me," Kelley said.
"Harry has basically been bounced out of her office and she has to find a way to make a living. I hope in this day and age people can connect with a woman, at 60, beginning life again," he added.
Kelley said the role of Korn was originally written for a man, but he could not find a male actor who truly embodied the character. After changing the role to a woman, Bates was the first choice and very few adjustments were made to the script.
"The joy with Kathy is we didn't have to give her lines or scenes that revealed her tender side. She oozes that naturally. We could make her as tough and disgruntled as we wanted and she would take care of the rest," Kelley said.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)