LOS ANGELES - ABC is moving its high-rated TV drama

Body of Proof

to Los Angeles from Rhode Island.

The new crime drama set in Philadelphia, which premiered in March and stars Dana Delany and Jeri Ryan, filmed its first season in Providence, R.I., but uncertainty surrounding the small state's program of film tax credit put California in play. Gov. Lincoln Chafee has recommended dismantling Rhode Island's credit program to balance the state budget.

ABC received approval for a $7 million tax credit for Body of Proof in March, said Amy Lemisch, director of the California Film Commission.

The production has a crew of about 200 people.

"They have indicated they are moving the show and will start filming in Los Angeles in mid- to late July," Lemisch said. "It's a huge deal for us and another example of how our tax credit program is increasing production."

ABC representatives were not immediately available for comment.

This is the highest-profile TV series to relocate to L.A. since California enacted a film tax credit program in 2009 aimed at curbing runaway production.

The law was adopted partly in response to the outcry in Hollywood over ABC's decision to move the sitcom Ugly Betty from L.A. to New York in 2008 to take advantage of that state's tax credits. The show has since been canceled.

Since 2009, the program has approved 125 projects accounting for $2.2 billion in production spending and $760 million in wages, state officials say.

The program, which excludes movies costing more than $75 million, has mostly benefited lower-budget films and new cable shows but has attracted relatively few TV series to California from other states or countries.

Among the TV shows that have relocated was Torchwood, the BBC America sci-fi series that moved to L.A. from Wales this year, after receiving approval for a California production tax credit. Comedy Central's Important Things With Demetri Martin came to L.A. from New York after receiving approval for a California tax credit in 2009.

Network TV series like Body of Proof can qualify for California's film tax program only if they are moving to California from another location.

Body of Proof finished as TV's most-watched new show for the 2010-11 season and on average qualified as ABC's most-watched series from 10 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays, according to the network.

In 2009, ABC moved production of All My Children to L.A. from New York to take advantage of lower production costs. ABC recently announced it was canceling the long-running soap opera.