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Legal Blogger, Prime-Time Prospect

Publication Date: 
January 21, 2010
Business Week
William McQuillen

Thomas C. Goldstein, a lecturer in law who co-founded the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic with Professor Pamela Karlan, is the inspiration for a proposed television series tentatively titled "Tommy Supreme":

Tom Goldstein has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of shoppers who overpaid for vitamins, fellow lawyers facing court sanctions, and disabled passengers unhappy with their treatment on cruises. But he had no idea mundane legal issues might make for riveting television. "If you knew my life, you would not think it is the stuff of television drama," says the 39-year-old Goldstein, who has argued 21 cases before the Supreme Court since 1999.

Hollywood thinks otherwise. Sony Pictures Television (SNE) once held the rights to Goldstein's life story and NBC has commissioned a pilot for the series, tentatively titled Tommy Supreme. Past TV shows that centered on the High Court met with swift and unpleasant verdicts. But then, they didn't feature a poker-playing barrister with a social conscience to help enliven the court's often fusty proceedings.


With Sony having let its option lapse, a script is being written. Actors haven't been cast. Still, Goldstein said, if the show is fast-tracked, it could find a spot on NBC as early as next fall.

The show's protagonist is an idealist fresh out of law school who argues Supreme Court cases. In true Hollywood fashion, he will butt heads aplenty with big companies and the government, Goldstein said.


"There is that gap between the lawyers' world and dramas and entertainment," Goldstein said. "You have to expect that there will be added elements."