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Can TV give a real take on divorce?

Chicago Tribune
April, 1992
Rick Kogan

Always interested in differences between reality and fiction, we began to wonder a few weeks ago what real lawyers might think of the ABC show "Civil Wars," which features the activities of a pair of divorce lawyers.

After a few phone calls we came up with a divorce lawyer team that would admit to watching "Civil Wars" and we arranged to meet them for breakfast.

Their names are Rosaire Nottage and Eunice Ward. The are in their 40s, bright and full of opinions. They started their firm, Nottage and Ward, in 1988 and during our conversation touch on many subjects. But here is some of what they had to say about TV and their profession.

"It is sometimes amazing to me how television is able to skew reality in palatable ways," said Ward. "'Civil Wars' seems to capture the theater of what's going on but it misses the black humor of the events that usually surround divorce."

"It makes things appear too pretty. It massages reality," said Nottage. "And it removes the everyday chaos of the court room."

"But..." said Ward. "It's awful, I suppose, to think that a show can make the worst moments of people's lives entertaining."

"The show makes divorce an event," said Nottage. "It's really a process."

When we wondered if there were enough stories-wacky and sad-to sustain a series about divorce lawyers, both women laughed.

"The stories are inexhaustible," said Nottage. "At every party I go to, when people find out I'm a divorce lawyer, they want me to share the most intimate details of their divorces.

"And, oh yes, a lot of people want to know what I think of 'L.A. Law.'"

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