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Fox ends 'Ally McBeal' run

"Ally McBeal" has won five Emmy awards and four Golden Globe awards.  

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The Fox television network is canceling "Ally McBeal," the innovative series starring Calista Flockhart that once earned the industry's highest accolade, the Emmy for best comedy series.

The network said the final episode will air May 20, ending a five-year run of the show. In a statement issued by Fox, producer David E. Kelley said, "It's sad to say goodbye to something you love, even when perhaps it is time. They're bringing 'L.A. Law' back, so I remain hopeful."

Kelley broke the news to the cast Wednesday.

"There were tears. It was emotional," 20th Century Fox Television spokesman Chris Alexander told The Associated Press.

The show's ratings have suffered a major decline this year. Monday's two-hour episode, despite heavy promotion, earned the series' worst numbers ever in the key 18-49 demographic.

The president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, Gail Berman, praised Kelley's efforts.

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"[He] is one of television's visionaries," Berman said. "His 'Ally McBeal' became a landmark series for Fox and for the television industry, and Calista Flockhart is a singular talent who brought to life the unique voice of the character of Ally McBeal. ... It will be impossible to replace them, but we are fortunate to continue our relationship with David and his team."

Flockhart earned multiple Emmy nominations for her work on the show. Co-star Peter MacNicol (John "The Biscuit" Cage), was honored with an Emmy last year.

Flockhart became a star thanks to the show. Her character was an attorney in a quirky law firm that had a unisex bathroom and romantic relationships between the most unlikely characters. Ally herself was known for agonizing over her relationships. In one famous episode, her concern over her biological clock had her seeing visions of a dancing baby.

The show was also celebrated for its musical sequences, from the weekly appearances of nightclub singer Vonda Shepard to guest performances by Al Green, Barry White, Elton John and Mariah Carey. More than once, the cast members themselves broke into song, and another well-known episode had McBeal searching for a "theme song."

Though classified by some as drama when it debuted, the show was closer to comedy, a point emphasized when Fox ran half-hour edited versions of episodes as a separate show, "Ally."

Kelley is a former attorney and the mastermind behind "The Practice," "Picket Fences," "Boston Public," and several other series. He told The Associated Press last fall that he knew the "McBeal" was a more perishable commodity than "The Practice," which airs on ABC.

"I always thought the series would end after six years," he said then.

His new series, about three female lawyers in San Francisco, debuts in the fall.

Fox said former co-stars Lisa Nicole Carson and Courtney Thorne-Smith will return for the "McBeal" series finale. According to the network, the plot line for the wrap-up is to be determined.


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