December 20, 2010
KBatesKathy Bates stars in Harry’s Law.

SMU alumni Kathy Bates ’69 and Sarah Shahi shake up the legal system in two new television shows.

Bates stars as Harriet – Harry – Korn in the quirky dramedy “Harry’s Law,” an NBC series from David E. Kelley (“Ally McBeal,” “Boston Legal” and others). The show airs on Monday at 9 p.m. (CST). The New York Times says the down-but-not-out Harry is “played by Kathy Bates with a likable cynicism.”

A graduate of SMU’s Meadows School of Arts, Bates received an honorary doctor of arts degree and spoke at SMU’s 87th commencement in 2002.

Last year Bates did a guest turn on NBC’s “The Office,” joining fellow Mustang Brian Baumgartner ’95. Baumgartner is now in his seventh season as Kevin Malone on the hit sitcom. Lauren Graham ’92, another Meadows alum, stars on NBC’s “Parenthood.

Bates has won numerous accolades for her work on stage, screen and television. In 1990 she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe for Misery. In 1998 she won a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress, for Primary Colors. Her TV work has earned eight Emmy nominations.

Shahi_kate.jpgSarah Shahi lights up Fairly Legal.

Like Bates, Shahi has taken on the role of legal firebrand in a new USA Network series. Dubbed the “anti-law law show” by creator Michael Sardo, Fairly Legal revolves around Shahi’s character, Kate Reed, an attorney-turned-mediator in her late father’s San Francisco legal firm. Shahi describes the character as “a beautiful mess.”

The Boston Globe says Shahi “brings her virtues – wry humor, determination, skepticism – into a leading role.” The series airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. (CST).

Shahi previously starred as Detective Dani Reese on NBC’s “Life” and as DJ Carmen de la Pica Morales on Showtime’s “The L Word.”

The actress was born Aahoo Jahansouz Shahi, but changed her first name to Sarah while in elementary school. She grew up in Euless, Texas, and was captain of the volleyball and basketball teams at Trinity High School.

As an SMU undergraduate, Shahi tried out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and made the 1999-2000 squad. When the cheerleaders made a brief appearance in the movie Dr. T and the Women, Shahi became acquainted with director Robert Altman. In interviews Shahi has credited him for inspiring her to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

Shahi and husband Steve Howey live in Los Angeles. They have a son, Wolf, born in 2009. She met Howey, a San Antonio native, while guest starring on the sitcom “Reba.” For six seasons, he played Van Montgomery, Reba McEntire’s son-in-law.

Photo credits: Kathy Bates, NBC Universal; Sarah Shahi, David Moir/USA Network