Marcia Clark makes a case for ABC’s ‘The Fix’
LOS ANGELES — Marcia Clark spent 16 years working as a lawyer in a private practice, as a public defender and finally as the deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County. Despite working on thousands of cases, the mention of Clark’s name brings to mind one battle in the courtroom: 1995’s trial of O.J. Simpson.
“It is what it is,” Clark says of her place in legal history. “There’s nothing I can do about it. So I accept it. I understand it. I can’t blame the public because it was the most publicized case I ever had.”
Clark has found a way to embrace the connection and take another bite of the legal apple. She’s the executive producer and co-writer of the ABC 10-episode drama “The Fix,” premiering Monday. The series follows Maya Travis (Robin Tunney), an L.A. district attorney who suffers a devastating defeat after prosecuting an A-list movie star for double murder. With her high-profile career derailed, she escapes to a quieter life in the country. But that solitude is shattered when eight years later, the same star is under suspicion for another murder.
Clark didn’t head to the woods, but she did leave the district attorney’s office and eventually became a writer. Her book on the Simpson case, “Without a Doubt,” was published in 1997 and became a best-seller. She is also the author of “Blood Defense,” “Moral Defense” and “Snap Judgment.”
The career change helped Clark deal with the way the public saw her during the Simpson trial.
“It was a process that took years. At first, it was very upsetting because that case wasn’t the only thing I did,” Clark says. “Then I realized — and I can’t tell you when that moment was — that I had to accept what was reality. The reality is that people saw me on TV during that case way too many hours of it. So of course they are going to associate me with it.”
Clark always brought a passion for the law to the job, but by the time the Simpson case was over, she was ready to take a new path. The one thing she learned from the Simpson case that plays heavily into the way “The Fix” is structured is how much celebrity plays into the legal system.
“There is a certain degree of star power that they bring to the courtroom, and it does skew the way the jury views the evidence, and so the playing field is not level,” Clark says. “And once a jury starts to identify and relate to a defendant in that way, you are in big trouble, because there’s no such thing as a piece of evidence that can’t be spun in one way or another if a juror is inclined to do so. And many jurors wind up in that kind of frame of mind without even realizing their own bias, and when you are up against that, there’s nothing you can do.”
She didn’t leave the courtroom knowing she wanted a career as a writer and television producer. Clark eventually settled on becoming a writer, something she had enjoyed doing from a young age.
What she has written with Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain for “The Fix” doesn’t spend all 10 episodes in the courtroom. What they wanted to make was a law show that’s not all about the law, but focused on the personal stories of everyone behind the scenes.
“That said, we did take a lot of care to make sure that our characters do things that characters like that would do and could do. So, for example, we have an episode involving ‘queen for a day’ in which a defendant can go in and talks to the police with the agreement that everything is off the record in return for a possible deal,” Clark says. “We do incorporate things the way they really are, and we make an effort to make sure and do that.
“We stretch certain things for the purpose of entertainment for sure, but I hope that you will never stand up and go, ‘That’s ridiculous,’ because I don’t like doing that for any show. It takes me out of the moment. So we really did make an effort to get it right.”
And getting it right means attacking the writing process the way she approached every other job she has had. Clark sits down in the morning and writes through the day, going later as deadlines loom. Ideas for television scripts can come from a billboard or from a person sitting on a bench.
In the case of “The Fix,” the inspiration has been with her for almost a quarter of a century. If the story idea fits, Clark admits she will write about it.
“The Fix” stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Scott Cohen, Adam Rayner, Merrin Dungey, Breckin Meyer, Marc Blucas, Mouzam Makkar and Alex Saxon.