EXCLUSIVE: Today’s fourth season renewal for Fox’s comedy Raising Hope came after a succession plan for the family comedy had been put in place. Raising Hope creator/executive producer/showrunner Greg Garcia is leaving at the end of the season as stipulated by his overall deal at CBS TV Studios. One of his top lieutenants, Raising Hope executive producer Mike Mariano, has closed a deal to take over showrunner duties for Season 4. I hear the multi-year pact includes a development component. In addition to Raising Hope, where he has been since after the pilot, first as co-exec producer and then as exec producer, CAA-repped Mariano worked as a writer-producer on Garcia’s previous series, NBC’s My Name Is Earl. Meanwhile, Garcia is almost certain to get a new series on the air next season with two high-profile pilots at CBS.

Raising Hope is one of three established series whose creators/showrunners have pilots this season. Bones‘ Hart Hanson has CBS/20th TV drama Backstrom, which is still casting the lead. If it goes to series, Hanson will focus on that, with his No.2 on Bones, Stephen Nathan, taking over day-to-day responsibilities on the Fox/20th TV dramedy, recently renewed for a ninth season, the way he did when Hanson was off working on Bones spinoff The Finder. Additionally, Warner Bros. TV is hammering out a contingency plan for The Mentalist, whose creator Bruno Heller is behind CBS/WBTV drama pilot The Advocates, also still missing its leads. The Mentalist has not been renewed yet but looks good to go to Season 6.