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[03/03/04 - 12:00 AM]
Futures Becoming Clear for 'Raymond,' 'Practice'
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- With production on both ABC's "The Practice" and CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" set to wrap by month's end, the future of both series is likely to be decided in the next week week or so.

In the case of the former, the David E. Kelley-produced drama appears headed out to pasture based on comments by ABC chief Lloyd Braun during the network's February sweeps wrap-up conference call yesterday. The network had been in talks with "The Practice's" distributor, 20th Century Fox Television, since January to renew the show for a ninth season (read the story), however now it appears the Alphabet hopes to take the franchise in a different direction.

"We are in active discussions with David Kelley about another show that will share some of the same bloodlines as 'The Practice,'" Braun said at the close of the call. While he declined to go into specifics, speculation by various reporters has been that the proposed series would involve James Spader's character, whose introduction this season has been widely credited with helping revive the show creatively this season. Nevertheless, Braun and Kelley have yet to comment about the exact nature of the series. A decision however is expected shortly.

As for "Raymond," CBS is reportedly close to finalizing a deal to renew the series for a ninth and final season, albeit a shortened one along the lines of the current 18-episode swan song of "Friends." The deal's only stumbling block is getting the show's cast, producers and production company to sign on for the truncated season. CBS topper Leslie Moonves told reporters during the Eye's February sweeps wrap-up call that he's "very guardedly optimistic" that "Raymond" will return next season.





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· EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· PRACTICE, THE (ABC)





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