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David E. Kelley: Will he be on the air this fall?

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Will fans of David E. Kelley be in for a big disappointment come fall? ABC has yet to pick up the producer’s Emmy-winning drama Boston Legal for another season, and EW.com just learned that he may walk away from Life on Mars, a drama pilot he executive produced for ABC, because of financial reasons. The series, which stars Jason O’Mara, is based on the BBC’s sci-fi crime drama of the same name. It focuses on a 21st century detective who, after a serious injury, is transported back to the 1970s as a cop. One insider says that the chances for a series pickup are strong even without Kelley’s involvement, though it appears the drama may end up as a coproduction between ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox TV (the latter studio, along with Kelley, first sold the project to ABC). According to the insider, the studios are in talks with the exec producers of

October Road to take over showrunning duties on Life on Mars if Kelley leaves. A spokesman for 20th Century Fox TV declined comment.

Meanwhile, Kelley’s beloved but beleaguered Boston Legal is still awaiting word of a fifth-season pickup by ABC. The dramedy, which has earned Emmy wins for stars James Spader and William Shatner, has averaged 9.8 million viewers this season, but it hit a low of 7.4 million when the show switched time slots on April 30. 

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