Steven Bochco, who created the hit NBC series "L.A. Law," will return to an active role in the production of the show in an effort to resurrect the show's popularity.
He will be assisted by David E. Kelley, who succeeded him as executive producer of the series but left at the end of last season. Mr. Kelley won the Emmy Award as the best drama writer in television the last two seasons for his work on "L.A. Law."
Both men will effectively replace Patricia Green, who assumed the role of executive producer and head writer on the series this season.
A statement issued yesterday by 20th Century Fox Television, the show's production company, said that Ms. Green had resigned, and Mr. Bochco and Mr. Kelley were recommitting themselves to roles as creative consultants on the series. But one executive involved in the negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that although Mr. Bochco and Mr. Kelley were not coming back as full-fledged executive pro
ducers, they had agreed to expand their roles and take over the creative direction of the series.
Both men have signed contracts with other networks -- Mr. Bochco with ABC and Mr. Kelley with CBS -- that commit them to work exclusively for those networks, except that both had reserved the right to remain as "consultants" on "L.A. Law."
Rick Wallace, who has been an executive producer with Ms. Green this season, will retain that title. But she is not a writer, and under the new arrangement the main supervision over the show's future writing and story lines is to be assumed by Mr. Bochco and Mr. Kelley.
Both Fox and especially NBC had been increasingly concerned that the production team that took control of the series this year had failed to maintain the series' standards in writing, character development and storytelling.
In recent weeks, the Thursday-night drama has been criticized in several publications for its lackluster performance this year. Its ratings have been down only slightly, but NBC executives concluded that the show would alienate its most loyal fans if it were not fixed quickly.
At a news conference this month, Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment, openly expressed disappointment with the quality of the show so far this television season.
Mr. Bochco, who also created the police drama "Hill Street Blues," has been the most celebrated writer and producer of dramatic series on television. He currently has three shows on ABC: "Civil Wars," "Doogie Howser, M.D." and "Capitol Critters."
But after three years as executive producer on "L.A. Law," Mr. Bochco left the series in 1988, when he signed a long-term contract with ABC for exclusive rights to his future work.
When Mr. Kelley succeeded Mr. Bochco as executive producer, the show became, if anything, even more successful. It won the Emmy Award as best drama in television both years Mr. Kelley was executive producer.