Mike Kelley Revenge LeavingABC‘s soapy drama Revenge has not been officially renewed for a third season. But when it is, it will be without creator Mike Kelley at the helm. After serving as executive producer/showrunner for the first two seasons of the drama series, Kelley is stepping down from day-to-day responsibilities though he may stay on as a consultant. Kelley called the departure, which comes at the end of his current contract, “a difficult mutual decision” between him and Revenge producer ABC Studios. “Helming this series has been the ride of a lifetime, and my producing partner, Melissa Loy, and I will look back on our Revenge time with deep gratitude and respect for Emily (VanCamp) and Madeleine (Stowe) and the rest of the incredible cast, our heroic crew, the dedicated and imaginative producing and writing team, and the tireless post production department,” Kelley said, also thanking ABC president Paul Lee, his marketing team, and the creative executives at ABC and ABCS “for their profound support throughout this journey.” “I’m excited about finishing post production on the season two finale, which I hope will stand among the best episodes of the series thus far. Continued success to all.”

I hear Kelley, who created the cult CBS drama Swing Town before taking a crack at a female-driven contemporary take on The Count Of Monte Cristo with Revenge, had been lobbying for shorter seasons for the heavily serialized drama. From the get-go, he had argued with ABC and ABC Studios that Revenge was much better suited for cable-style orders instead of the standard broadcast 22-episode seasons. After a fast start, Revenge was moved into the high-profile Sunday 9 PM slot last fall though it has been uneven creatively. I hear the pressure to churn out 22 episodes a season while maintaining the quality has taken a toll, sometime causing tension on the set and ultimately leading to Kelley’s decision to move on. He just informed ABCS and the Revenge cast of his decision. “Mike Kelley created a distinctive series for our studio and network with tremendous passion and dedication,” said ABC Studios EVP Barry Jossen. “We wish him all the best as he moves on to his next television achievement.”

As for who will succeed Kelley, the show’s writer/executive producer Sunil Nayar appears the logical choice and is rumored for the job, but ABC Studios stresses that no decisions have been made.