Not The Real McBeal

How to jump-start a career in Hollywood? Make fun of one of its high-profile players. That’s the idea former junior-high-school buddies Josh Berman and Cameron Black had when they set out to film Allyn McBeal, a 10-minute spoof of David E. Kelley’s Ally McBeal. Berman, 29, was a creative executive at NBC Studios and aspiring writer; Black, 28, a former talk-show producer (Geraldo), was acting and producing in theater and also looking for a break. Together, with a $10,000 budget, the duo created the spoof, which takes on the Ally-Billy-Georgia triangle, the Dancing Baby and even Kelley’s wife, Michelle Pfeiffer. Executive producer Black cast himself as Allyn and enlisted friends from an acting class to offer their dead-on impressions of series characters Ling (Karen Kim) and Fish (Patrick Hancock), while Berman wrote the script and signed his brother David to play the role of Elaine.

Copies were mailed to agents, producers and studio executives — and Kelley. "We prayed that he had a sense of humor," says Black. Adds Berman: "We heard that he loved it." ("It made me laugh," Kelley told Access Hollywood.) The mission, it seems, has been accomplished. "I’ve had a couple of meetings so far," says Berman, who has been hired as a writer on M.Y.O.B., a midseason sitcom for NBC. Black, meanwhile, is weighing acting and producing roles. "Next time, I want to do it with somebody else’s money," he says. "Maybe David Kelley would like to develop a series for me." — Stef McDonald