Dey breaks with ‘Love’

Susan Dey will leave the CBS comedy “Love & War” at the end of the season, with the parties citing “creative differences that could not be resolved” between Dey and the show’s production company, Shukovsky English Entertainment.

Producers Diane English and Joel Shukovsky confirmed Dey’s exit through a spokeswoman but couldn’t be reached to elaborate on the direction of the first-year sitcom. Sources say they expect the show’s focus to shift from its romantic core more toward the characters in the restaurant-bar owned by Dey’s character and frequented by a newspaperman played by Jay Thomas.

Production has wrapped on the show for the season, though original episodes will continue to air through the May sweeps. According to sources, Dey — the former longtime “L.A. Law” and “The Partridge Family” regular — had differences with the producers regarding the handling of her character as well as the terms of her deal.

Dey’s agent couldn’t be reached for comment, but Shukovsky and English issued a statement saying the parties had reached “an amicable parting of the ways” after lengthy discussions.

The irony of Dey’s departure is that her character stood in for the series’ creator, English, who has said the original concept was very loosely based on English’s own relationship with her husband and partner, Shukovsky. In the show Dey plays a WASP-ish, circumspect restaurateur who becomes romantically involved with a somewhat gruff Jewish columnist (Thomas).

The comedy, Shukovsky English’s first under a four-series arrangement with CBS, has picked up as the season went along in its coveted time period between “Murphy Brown” and “Northern Exposure.” Since the end of “Monday Night Football, ” original episodes of “Love” have averaged a 15.8 rating, 24 share (up from a 15.0/22, excluding its one-hour premiere, through December) and fallen just 14% off “Murphy’s” lead-in.

The network reportedly backed the company’s decision regarding the change. SEE’s overall commitment from CBS calls for two series to be created by English and two more from writer-producers engaged by their production company.

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