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‘L.A. Law’ Gets New Lease on Network Life

April 20, 1993

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ It suffered a storyline identity crisis and an accompanying plunge in ratings, but ″L.A. Law″ made good on a second chance and will return for an eighth season, NBC said.

The acclaimed drama series, with 15 Emmys to its credit, was pulled by the network for a month after critics blamed its new focus on soap-opera style plots for a drastic decline in viewership.

It returned April 1, refocusing on courtroom drama under the guidance of Bill Finkelstein, who helped guide the series in its glory days and came back to lead the revitalization effort.

In announcing the decision Monday, the network credited Finkelstein for the program’s recent rise in the ratings.

″Since Bill Finkelstein came on board, we’ve been very satisfied with the quality of the work and, obviously, the audience agrees,″ said Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment.

Since its return, ″L.A. Law″ has averaged a 12.5 rating, bettering its earlier season-to-date ratings by 9 percent, NBC said. A ratings point represents 931,000 homes.

Among highly valued viewers in the 18-49 age group, the series is back among the top 10 primetime series. It has beaten out its dramatic competition, CBS’ ″Picket Fences,″ but both shows trail ABC’s ″PrimeTime Live.″

Critics have applauded the revamped drama, which is set in a Los Angeles law firm.

Finkelstein was a supervising producer at ″L.A. Law″ from the middle of its first year in 1986 to the end of its fourth. He shared in the show’s four Emmys for outstanding drama.

In February, he said the characters’ recent ″extracurricular activities,″ including romances, didn’t work well dramatically.

He promised shows ″grounded a bit more in stories that involve the law.″

The series stars Richard Dysart, Corbin Bernsen, Blair Underwood, Alan Rachins, Susan Ruttan, Larry Drake, Michael Tucker, Jill Eikenberry and A Martinez.

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