Thompson leaving NBC's 'Law'


Fred Thompson is giving up his post as D.A. on NBC's "Law & Order."

Thompson, a former Republican senator from Tennessee who has flirted with the idea of running for president but has yet to announce his candidacy, played District Attorney Arthur Branch on the long-running crime drama for the past five seasons.

"I've spoken to Fred today, and although he told me he has not made a firm decision about his political future, he felt that given the creative and scheduling constraints of the upcoming season, he asked to be released from his responsibilities to the show," "Law & Order" creator/executive producer Dick Wolf said Wednesday. "I will sincerely miss working with him on a regular basis, and I obviously wish him the best of luck with whatever the future holds."

The statement came hours after news reports indicated that Thompson will form a presidential committee this week.

It has been rumored for months that Executive A.D.A. Jack McCoy, played by "L&O" veteran Sam Waterston, might be bumped up to Branch's position in the show's upcoming 18th season.

A breakdown being floated has "L&O" potentially adding a D.A. and two detectives next season. There are two police detectives on the series, played by veteran Jesse Martin and Milena Govich. Sources indicated that Govich would not be coming back, while Martin might return for another season.

Through a spokeswoman, Wolf declined to discuss any further casting changes on the show.