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‘Notorious’ Producers Mark Geragos, Wendy Walker Discuss Story Inspiration, Real Life Similarities

Wendy Walker, Mark Geragos
Photo Credits: (L) Gotpap/Bauergriffin.Com; (R) ABC

TV Source Magazine attended the 10th anniversary of the PaleyFest Fall TV Preview for the new ABC drama series Notorious in early September. We spoke with series executive producers Mark Geragos and Wendy Walker about story input and reel versus real life.

Notorious centers on the symbiotic relationship between charismatic defense attorney Jake Gregorian (Daniel Sunjata) and powerhouse TV producer Julia George (Piper Perabo), as they attempt to control the media, the justice system and ultimately each other. Jake and Julia’s relationship is inspired by the real-life friendship between famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and award-winning cable news producer Wendy Walker. Their professional alliance has influenced some of America’s most infamous moments in recent history.

As the principal with the internationally known trial law firm of Geragos & Geragos, APC, Mark Geragos has represented some of the most prominent figures in the world for more than thirty years. Mr. Geragos’ A-list celebrity clients include renowned Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, Grammy Award-winning artist Chris Brown, Platinum-selling artist Kesha, former first brother Roger Clinton, Academy Award-nominated actress Winona Ryder, pop-icon Michael Jackson, hip-hop stars Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and Sean “Diddy” Combs, fashion-designer Nicole Richie, former Congressman Gary Condit, pop-star Usher, and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Mr. Geragos is only one of two lawyers ever named “Lawyer of the Year” in both the criminal and civil arenas.

A pioneer of the cable news industry, Wendy Walker was recruited to help start CNN in 1980. She spent 18 of 32 years there as senior executive producer of the iconic talk show “Larry King Live.” Walker oversaw all planning and production for the top-ranked, critically acclaimed program, which was the world’s first live, globally televised viewer call-in show. She played a critical role in bringing the biggest news stories and personalities of the past two decades into the living rooms of millions on a nightly basis. Her career is full of television “firsts,” orchestrating the coverage of some of the most seminal breaking news events of our time. Before taking over “Larry King Live,” Walker spent a decade as CNN’s senior executive White House producer, covering Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She also served as an executive vice president at CNN.

TV Source Magazine: What made you want to be a part of Notorious?
Mark Geragos: Because Wendy didn’t have a job! [Geragos and Walker both laugh] She needed the work.

Wendy Walker: It was just a great relationship. When I was executive producer at Larry King Live he was my best guest. Every time he had a wonderful client he had a great story and I thought it would be a really interesting show. Bringing both law and television together.

TV Source Magazine: How much input do you have with the storyline?
Geragos: We were just talking about that, actually quite a bit. There’s a bit of life imitating art and art intimating life. This week you may have noticed I have a client (R&B Star Chris Brown) who had his house surrounded by the LAPD, and helicopters hovering and when you look at the first episode its identical. So there’s a little bit of that going on as well. When we tell stories of what we did in the past there is some lifting, inspiration behind it.

TV Source Magazine: Speaking of your clients, are they worried they may end up as a part of a storyline?
Geragos: I’ve actually had several of the clients say, “Okay, I don’t want you to use me as an inspiration, but I would like to make a cameo anyways.” So we had a couple make cameos already.

Editor’s Note: Look for Sean “P. Diddy” Combs to make a cameo in episodes 2.

TV Source Magazine: How true is Piper Perabo’s character Julia to yourself, Wendy?
Walker: I actually think Piper personally would make a really good producer. [It’s] the way she conducts herself just on the set. She studies very hard, she’s really driven, she’s very competitive. She has all the attributes to be a producer and she plays the role very well.

Geragos: I’ll amplify that with Aimee [Teegarden who plays junior lawyer Ella Benjamin]. Aimee actually took 10 days off and traveled with me to various court cases. So she saw me in and outside of court. I also had her do some actual stuff and I told her if this acting thing doesn’t work out I have a job for you.

Notorious airs Thursdays at 9:00 PM/EST on ABC.

TV Source Magazine has more Notorious scoop for you over the coming days from stars Ryan Guzman, Kevin Zegers, Sepideh Moafi!

About the author

Walker Ragsdale

Walker Ragsdale is a freelance writer and publicist specializing in enertainment and branding.