'NCIS' chief Bellisario exits series

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"NCIS" creator/ executive producer Don Bellisario is leaving the show.

Bellisario, who also served as showrunner on the series, will focus his attention on a couple of projects he has in development at CBS Paramount Network TV, where he has an overall deal.

The move follows weeks of speculation about friction between Bellisario and show star Mark Harmon and other people associated with the series.

"NCIS" co-executive producer Chas. Floyd Johnson, who has worked with Bellisario for 25 years, and the show's head writer Shane Brennan are expected to take over as co-showrunners.

"NCIS," from CBS Paramount Network TV, has been a solid performer for CBS and is expected to return in the fall for a fifth season.

"The creativity, vision and talents of Don Bellisario built 'NCIS' into one of television's most successful dramas," CBS Par Network TV president David Stapf said. "He not only built a top-rated show, but a great producing team that provides terrific continuity for the years ahead. With 'JAG' and 'NCIS' Don has a great tradition of success with the network and our studio; we look forward to developing his next generation of projects."

"NCIS" launched in 2003 as a spinoff of long-running military drama "JAG," which Bellisario also created and executive produced. He previously created or co-created such series as "Quantum Leap" and "Magnum P.I."

Tatiana Siegel contributed to this report.
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