But EW.com reports that his departure won't be the only cast change for next season
Robert Downey Jr.
Credit: Robert Downey Jr: Alberto Lowe/Zuma Press

Fox execs probably felt their own hearts break a little when Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) was dumped by her latest on-screen paramour, played by Robert Downey Jr., during last week’s episode. The troubled Oscar nominee, who was arrested on drug charges April 24, is credited with reviving interest in the once sagging series. His last episode brought the show’s best ratings since February and won first place in its time slot. But even though Downey won’t be seen on May 21’s season finale, he may not be gone for good. Executive producer/ director Bill D’Elia disputes reports that the star was fired from the program, adding that the door may be open for him to return, though not in the near future. ”Right now what we have to focus on is the show, and what Robert has to focus on is getting well,” D’Elia tells EW.com. ”We don’t want one to influence the other.”

Though Downey’s meltdown forced creator David E. Kelly to write the actor out of the final episode at the last minute, that hasn’t scared the show’s producers from working with other combustible stars in the future. ”Are we going to be more cautious? No,” says D’Elia. ”I can tell you honestly that with Robert Downey Jr. we made the right decisions every step of the way. Where it fell apart had to do with the unknown. Obviously, we’re all saddened by this and wished for a better ending, but you can’t predict these things. You can only have faith in talent.”

But Downey’s departure won’t be the only one. Last week James LeGros told EW that he plans to walk after the season finale, and rumors have circulated that Lucy Liu and Greg Germann are also out the door. Even newcomer Taye Diggs’ future is uncertain, since his ”Ally” contract was for only one season. Though D’Elia won’t name names, he does confirm that changes are afoot.

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