LOS ANGELES – Lindsay Lohan’s days as a criminal defendant could be over – if she can behave herself.

A judge on Thursday ended the long-running probation of the problem-prone actress in a 2007 drunken driving case after a string of violations, jail sentences and rehab stints.

The 25-year-old actress will remain on informal probation for taking a necklace without permission last year, but will no longer have a probation officer or face travel restrictions and weekly shifts cleaning up at the morgue.

Lohan, wearing a powder blue suit and black blouse, let out a sigh of relief as she left Judge Stephanie Sautner’s courtroom, possibly for the last time.

“I just want to say thank you for being fair,” Lohan told the judge. “It’s really opened a lot of doors for me.”

The judge said she wasn’t going to lecture the actress, but gave her some parting advice.

“You need to live your life in a more mature way, stop the nightclubbing and focus on your work,” Sautner said.

She reminded Lohan that she will remain on informal probation until May 2014 in the necklace case and could face up to 245 days in jail if she gets into trouble again.

Still, the end of probation left Lohan looking relieved. She hugged her attorney, Shawn Holley, before leaving the courtroom, and was beaming by the time she walked past the rows of cameras waiting for her outside the courthouse near Los Angeles International Airport.

Sautner’s regimen of morgue duty, therapy and monthly court dates helped Lohan weather the drunken driving case. The judge opened the hearing by calling the case “endless.”

Lohan is now free to focus on her career for the xfirst time since May 2010, when she missed a court appearance and was later jailed for failing to complete the terms of her sentence.

The “Mean Girls” star has struggled with the case and her career since the two drunken driving arrests in 2007. Her career is already showing signs of a comeback. She is due to guest star on an upcoming episode of “Glee,” recently hosted a highly rated but criticized episode of “Saturday Night Live,” and is set to star as Elizabeth Taylor in a television movie.

Ferrell announces ‘Anchorman’ sequel

NEW YORK – Will Ferrell’s swashbuckling newscaster Ron Burgundy had his own breaking news to announce Wednesday night: A sequel to “Anchorman” is finally happening.

Ferrell made a surprise, in-character appearance on “Conan” to regale the audience with a flute solo and declare a deal with Paramount Pictures. A sequel to the 2004 hit comedy, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” has long been discussed. Ferrell informed host Conan O’Brien: “It’s official, there will be a sequel to ‘Anchorman.”‘

Earlier, Paramount had declined a musical plan put forth by Ferrell and director Adam McKay that also included a proposed Broadway stage show.

Couric to guest host on ABC’s morning show

NEW YORK – Katie Couric helped start and perpetuate morning television’s most epic winning streak.

Now she’ll try to break it.

ABC announced Thursday that the former “Today” show anchor will be guest host next week on “Good Morning America,” the rival wake-up show that has been rising in the ratings.

She will sub for the vacationing Robin Roberts for a week, teaming with George Stephanopoulos.

Couric was co-host of “Today” in December 1995, when the NBC show’s streak began.

“Today” has won every week in the ratings since then, 850 consecutive and counting, according to the Nielsen company.

Yet frisky “GMA” has been making noise lately. Last week the ABC show was only 137,000 viewers behind “Today” (an average of 4.98 million to 4.84 million), the closest the two shows have been since 2008.