By Mandi Bierly
September 22, 2011 at 06:00 PM EDT
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If you’ve seen the promo for Sunday’s season 3 finale of Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva (9 p.m. ET), you know Stacy utters the words “I’m not Deb… Jane is” to Grayson. It’s a moment creator Josh Berman knows fans have been waiting for. “This episode is three years in the making, and after this episode, nothing will ever be the same,” he tells EW. “My hope is that at the end of season 3, fans will feel exhilarated and desperate for more. I also want them to feel rewarded. I love television, and as a fan of TV, I remember growing up with series where nothing would evolve, and I felt like they would just be airing the same episode over and over. I wanted our show to take a giant step forward to really reward all the serious viewers. Like life, it’s not the same storyline over and over. For the show to grow, and to reward our viewers, something big needed to happen.”

The hour brings every character a mini-cliffhanger, Berman says. From the promo, we know Owen wants Jane to go away with him. Parker, who thought he was getting back together with Kim, finally finds out he has a son with Elisa (Brandy Norwood). And as for Stacy, who ended last episode in jail after assaulting her costar/boyfriend, Berman has this to say: “Now that she’s become the ultimate diva and hit rock bottom, it’s the time to see if she’s learned from the mistakes she’s made. And what she’s certainly learned is that she actually does have real genuine feelings for Fred. But the question is, can Fred forgive her? The relationship absolutely comes to a head.” 

As for the actual cases in the finale, there are two: Stacy turns to Grayson, who strikes her a deal that — oops! — can’t go through because she has a prior conviction, an offense that involves Deidre Hall, who cameos as herself. “We’ve been emailing back and forth figuring a way to bring her back in season 4. She had such a good time,” Berman says.

Jane and Kim take the case of a death-row inmate (Johnathon Schaech) who wants to donate his heart to his dying sister (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). Berman had worked with Sigler on a pilot and fell in love with her. “She can do both comedy and drama so, so well and that’s what we need for Drop Dead Diva — actresses that can make you cry one moment but also keep it light in the next. So when I was thinking of trying to cast a woman who could be dying, but you don’t want it to be weepfest, I thought Ohmygod, Jamie would be amazing. I called her up directly and offered her the part on the phone,” he says.

Schaech’s casting was equally easy. “I’ve wanted to work with him forever. I’ve brought him in for other parts, and this part I thought would be perfect for him. Just like with Jamie, I called him up directly and offered him the part. It’s a nice situation where neither of them needed to audition for the role because I was such a big fan.”

Clearly, the finale was written in anticipation of a fourth season, which UPDATE! the network has just announced“I have arced out the show in my head through season 5, which is two more seasons, and I really hope that Lifetime allows us to get there,” Berman says.

He recommends fans watch Sunday’s season finale live instead of DVRing it so they don’t get spoiled. “This episode is something you want to be a part of the first time through,” he says. But of course, live ratings are also a nice reminder to Lifetime of fans’ investment in the show.

Read more:

‘Drop Dead Diva’: We want Jane with this guy

‘Drop Dead Diva’: April Bowlby teases season 3

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