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Friday, 27 April, 2001, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Ally creator 'furious' at Downey Jr
Robert Downey Jr
Downey Jr: arrest forces re-writes
Ally McBeal creator David E Kelley is "furious" that actor Robert Downey Jr cannot complete the current series of the hit TV show after his drug arrest on Tuesday.

The arrest has forced the writer to make last-minute changes to remaining episodes of the comedy.

Industry newspaper The Hollywood Reporter says Kelley is angry at having to rewrite key season-ending episodes, which will air during May, while TV ratings "sweeps" are taking place.

Kelley fired Downey Jr as soon as he heard of the arrest, but a spokesman for 20th Century Fox later said that Downey Jr had not been sacked, but was simply not available to film.

Robert Downey Jr
Downey Jr is shown in a police photo after arrest
Producers have admitted it will be a "scramble" to complete this season's filming without Downey Jr, but pointed out that some scenes were already recorded.

"He was contracted for every episode this season and he might do that if we use the scenes we already have in the can," said Chris Alexander, of 20th Century Fox.

Mr Alexander added that Downey Jr's return to the show next series "was never negotiated or discussed".

A reported marriage proposal from Downey Jr's character to Ally McBeal was never planned, he said.

Setbacks

Police gave no details on the circumstances of Downey Jr's arrest and would not reveal the type of drug he is accused of using.

Robert Downey Jr
Downey won a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor in January
But a California Department of Corrections spokesman said the actor would be treated like any other person on parole.

He will enter a live-in drug treatment facility for at least six months for breaking parole.

This is the latest in a string of setbacks for the actor.

In 1996 he was stopped for speeding and police found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in the vehicle.

A month later he was found unconscious and underwent treatment at a drugs centre.

In August 1999 he was sentenced to three years in prison for violating his probation by missing scheduled drugs tests.

Robert Downey Jr and Calista Flockhart
Downey with Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart
He spent a year in prison until August 2000 but was arrested on 25 November at a hotel in Palm Springs, Florida, after police received an anonymous tip.

He is due to appear in court on Monday in that case.

David E Kelley and other producers on Ally McBeal had been supportive of Downey Jr until his latest arrest.

A spokesman for Downey Jr said the actor was now "in charge of his own destiny".

See also:

26 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Downey Jr 'not fired' from Ally
25 Apr 01 | Showbiz
Downey Jr's drug-hit career
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Downey Jr signs McBeal deal
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr arrest boosts ratings
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