The future of "Life on Mars" looks more certain at ABC, now that the network has renewed "Boston Legal" for a fifth season.
David E. Kelley's Emmy-winning legal drama will return to ABC in the fall, albeit with a somewhat tighter budget. The network and 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the show wit Kelley's company, negotiated a somewhat lower license fee, which will likely mean some paring of the show's cast (Saffron Burrows, for one, has moved on to an NBC show).
The pickup of "Legal" likely paves the way for "Life on Mars" to make its way to the network, the showbiz trade papers report. ABC wants the series -- an adaptation of the BBC series of the same name -- and has lined up the "October Road" team of Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg to serve as showrunners.
Kelley, however, owns the rights to the show and had to approve any such deal. ABC's willingness to renew "Boston Legal" helped lead Kelley to OK the deal for "Life on Mars." The trades say that while a deal is not completed yet, it's fairly certain that "Life on Mars" will have a place on ABC's 2008-09 schedule.
The network will announce its lineup for next season on Tuesday (May 13). NBC import "Scrubs" and the Ashton Kutcher-produced game show "Opportunity Knocks" are expected to join "Life on Mars" on the fall schedule, which will be light on new series. Modestly rated freshman shows "Eli Stone" and "Miss Guided" are reportedly in contention for spots either in the fall or at midseason.
'Boston Legal' Pickup Ensures 'Life on Mars'
Pair of David E. Kelley shows set for ABC schedule