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ABC to end 'NYPD Blue' next season

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, left, and Dennis Franz play detectives on
Mark-Paul Gosselaar, left, and Dennis Franz play detectives on "NYPD Blue." The series is set to end after its 12th season.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Goodbye Sipowicz.

ABC is expected to announce Monday that it has completed a deal to renew "NYPD Blue" for a 12th and final season.

ABC is said to be planning a big sendoff for the venerable cop drama during the 2004-05 season, recognizing the show's place in primetime history as a trailblazer and Nielsen stalwart for the network, despite ABC's ups and downs in recent seasons.

In addition to deciding the fate of "Blue," ABC has given a pilot order to "NYPD Blue" producer Steven Bochco Prods. and Paramount Network TV for a drama, "Blind Justice," with Ron Eldard attached to star, sources said.

The fade-out of "Blue" next season will mark the end of an era at ABC. Co-created by Bochco and David Milch, "Blue" was controversial from the start in its creators' insistence on pushing the envelope with grittier language than the norm of the day and even brief nudity.

"Blue's" arrival in September 1993 after more than two years in development was greeted by advertiser and affiliate boycotts. But the show was a Nielsen success from the outset, and its strong demographic ratings eventually won over virtually all of ABC's affiliates.

The show's ensemble cast survived numerous changes -- most notably David Caruso's hasty exit after the first season and the entry of Jimmy Smits -- thanks to the grounding force of four-time Emmy winner Dennis Franz as the long-suffering Detective Andy Sipowicz.

"Blue" set an Emmy record in 1994 by raking in the most nominations of any first-year series, with 26 bids (which topped the previous high of 21 set 14 years before by Bochco's own "Hill Street Blues").

"Blind Justice," meanwhile, revolves around a police officer who is blinded on the job, sources said. Eldard, an alumnus of NBC's "ER," is onscreen in the feature "House of Sand and Fog."

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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