Ally McBeal's Latest Love Without A Contract

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Jesse L. Martin, best known as the latest romantic interest of television's favorite lovelorn lawyer on ``Ally McBeal,'' says he's happy to be on the show without being on contract.

Martin, 30, who plays Dr. Greg Butters on the Fox series, said in an interview with USA Today that his current arrangement with the show gives him flexibility to pursue other projects.

``I like the fact that I'm not on contract,'' he told the newspaper. ``This way, I can do other things. I can still live in New York, which I would never give up. It's my home.

According to USA Today, Martin flies to Los Angeles on a week-to-week basis to work on the show, for which he will appear on six episodes this season.

Among his extra-Ally pursuits is an upcoming appearance on fellow Fox series ``The X-Files,'' the newspaper said.

On ``Ally McBeal,'' the title character played by Calista Flockhart has been torn between Martin's Dr. Butters and Ally's old flame who works in the same law firm.

Although he's the longest-lasting of Ally McBeal beaus so far, she and the doctor have yet to consummate their relationship, and in recent episodes has kept him at arm's length while trying to resolve her feelings.

Martin, a Virginia native, formerly starred in the hit Broadway show ``Rent,'' where he was seen by ``Ally'' producer David Kelley and his wife, actress Michelle Pfeiffer, USA Today said.

And by coincidence, Flockhart and Martin knew each other as next-door neighbors while working for a theater group in Hartford, Conn., the newspaper reported.

Martin told the newspaper he believes the media has unfairly focused on Flockhart's thinness.

``I don't know how she takes it, but she has a strong constitution,'' Martin said. ``She doesn't let it get to her. I respect her so much.''