'Boston Legal' will return

ABC renews the David E. Kelley series for a fifth season

The stalemate between ABC and "Boston Legal" creator David E. Kelley is headed to a resolution.

After intense negotiations, the network on Sunday reached an agreement with Kelley to bring "Legal" back in the fall. The network had originally intended to hold "Legal" for midseason.

The deal on "Legal" includes a reduced license fee for the show and is said to be subject to David E. Kelley Prods.' ability to make deals with the cast under the new fee. Like last year, cast reductions are likely.

The pact on "Legal" also opens the door for a series pickup of Kelley's drama pilot "Life on Mars."

The network had been zeroing in on a series order of the project starring Jason O'Mara, with "October Road" creators Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg coming in as executive producers and ABC Studios as a co-producer with 20th TV.

But such a deal had to be blessed by Kelley, who owns the rights to the property, an American version of the BBC series about a 21st century cop transported to the 1970s.

Now such a pact appears very likely.

This is the second time the fates of "Mars" and "Legal" have been tied together. Two years ago, ABC's "Mars" pickup helped clinch a renewal of "Legal."

Upon completion of the deal, "Life" is expected to be one of handful new additions to ABC's fall schedule, along with import "Scrubs" and the Ashton Kutcher-produced reality series "Opportunity Knocks."