There's a Theme Here

By Scott Moore

Sunday, April 19, 1998; Page Y07

David E. Kelley's initial choice for the "Ally McBeal" theme song was "Tell Him," a '60s pop tune by the Exciters. He settled on Vonda Shepard's "Searchin' My Soul."

Conversely, on a recent episode, neurotic lawyer Ally McBeal, played by Calista Flockhart, first chose "Searchin' My Soul" as her personal theme. She ended up with "Tell Him" after her therapist, guest star Tracey Ullman, vetoed "Searchin' " with a succinct review: "Bad song. Stinks!"

"I just cracked up," recalled Shepard of the Monday lunch-time screening with Kelley and the actors. "David's not afraid to make fun of everybody, including his cast."

Such internal plot twists are enjoyable for Shepard, who needn't worry about what Kelley really thinks of her songs. He reportedly blares her CDs while writing the offbeat scripts.

And the personal theme for the woman who supplies the beat for Ally McBeal?

"I'm always writing in my head," she said after a moment. "My theme song is whatever is inspiring me at the time with whatever I'm writing. Isn't that narcissistic? Only my own songs!"

After more thought, and no doubt energized by a morning cup of coffee after an all-night recording session, she finally belted out a refrain: "Forget your troubles, c'mon get happy. . . ."

"That's a nice corny one," she said with a hearty laugh. "They'll probably use that one on 'Ally McBeal' soon."

Stay tuned.

To hear a selection from Vonda Shepard's "Searchin' My Soul," call Post Haste at 202/334-9000 and select code 8440.

Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company