Legal drama The Practice is poised to return to TV screens for at least one more season - but the hit show's cast has been drastically cut.

After a difficult seventh season in America, fans feared the show would be cancelled but bosses at TV network ABC have decided to give the programme another chance - as long as show creator David E Kelley can halve licensing costs.

That means cutting six cast regulars, including stars Dylan McDermott and Lara Flynn Boyle, next season.

McDermott will guest star in at least four episodes next season, but it is unclear if the other exiting cast members will make any appearances.

In addition to McDermott and Boyle, the departures include original cast members Kelli Williams and Lisa Gay Hamilton and Marla Sokoloff, who joined The Practice during its second season.

Show creator DAVID E KELLEY says, "It hurts, professionally and personally. This is perhaps the finest group of actors and people one could ever hope to work with.

"I hope for all of them to recur if possible, and if I'm lucky, I'll get to work with them on future projects as well. I'm indebted to each and every one of them."

Sources at ABC claim the cast reduction was Kelley's idea and is part of his plan to rejuvenate the veteran show, which won the outstanding drama series EMMY in 1999.

20/05/2003 21:19