Opening Statements

The Play Reigns Supreme


New York lawyer jay Harris knows a good play when he sees one–and he’s got the brass to back it up, including a Tony Award for his production of Side Man. So when Harris says he’s found the next big hit, it’s a little hard to question his instincts. Even if the subject is the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

Through his production company, the Weissberger Theater Group, Harris has optioned the rights to New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse’s biography of Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun. And he recently commissioned a writer to pen a script based on Greenhouse’s account of the justice and his relationship with benchmate and childhood friend Chief Justice Warren Burger.

“When I read the book, the thing that struck me most about it was this wonderful story about Harry Blackmun and Warren Burger, and how they had been lifelong friends until they were on the Supreme Court together,” says Harris, whose other credits include stage productions of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Enter the Guardsman.

Harris also sees larger themes emerging out of the justices’ relationship. “These are two very large characters on the American political canvas, and what they will be talking about when the play is written are the very same issues that are before the Supreme Court year in and year out abortion, affirmative action, states’ rights, the death penalty. Those issues don’t go away,” he says. “Here is a good opportunity to have a drama that will articulate the different positions that come to be every time one of these cases comes before the court in one form or the other.”

Don’t expect to see Becoming Justice Blackmun on Broadway–or any other stage–anytime soon, though. Harris says it’ll be at least another year before it’s ready to debut. He says he’s got his heart set on a premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. “Frankly I couldn’t think of a more perfect place.”

Sidebar

Firmwide Numbers

486 The average number of lawyers working in 2006 at each of the nation’s 250 largest law firms.

58 The number of completed mergers of U.S. law firms in 2006, up from 49 in 2005 and 48 in 2004.

105 The number of the 250 largest U.S. law firms with international offices in 2006. This number is unchanged from 2005.

Source: Hildebrandt International 2007 client advisory

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