The network has handed out a straight-to-series order for a revival of the procedural that launched Wolf’s multibillion-dollar franchise. Rick Eid, one of Wolf’s frequent collaborators, will serve as showrunner on what is being billed as the drama’s 21st season.
“There are very few things in life that are literally dreams come true,” said Wolf, who remains credited as L&O’s creator and executive producer. “This is mine.”
An episode count has not yet been determined and it’s unclear if the new L&O will make it to air during the recently started 2021-22 broadcast season or if it will instead be earmarked for 2022-23. Sources tell THR that some former L&O castmembers are expected to return for season 21, though it remains unclear which ones are being eyed to revisit their characters.
The official news that NBC is bring L&O back — deals for which have been in the works for months — comes more than six years after NBC floated the idea of a return to the show that launched spinoffs Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury, L.A., True Crime, recently renewed Organized Crime and the longest-running primetime live-action show in American TV history, SVU. Sam Waterston, L&O‘s second-longest-running castmember, was open in 2015 about his interest in returning to the series. “I’d love it. Got to break the record,” he told THR at the time.
At the time of its cancellation, L&O was a season away from breaking Gunsmoke‘s 20-season record as TV’s longest-running primetime drama series. Wolf was furious when the series was abruptly canceled after the end of its 20th season, before he could break the record, as he ultimately would wind up doing a few years ago with SVU.
“Law & Order is quite simply one of the most iconic shows in television history, and the idea of continuing its legacy and partnering with Dick on an all-new season is nothing short of exhilarating,” said Susan Rovner, chairman of entertainment content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, “This is great news for NBC as well as TV fans everywhere.”
During its run L&O was nominated for more than 50 Emmys and took home the best drama series trophy in 1997. Wolf exec produces alongside Eid and his Wolf Entertainment collaborators Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski. The series hails from Universal TV, Wolf’s longtime home and where he remains under a massive overall deal.
“The return of the flagship Law & Order series for a pivotal 21st season is a proud moment for Dick and a proud moment for us, his studio partners,” said Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman of Universal Studio Group.
Wolf inked two huge deals last year, his overall deal renewal — which included a number of spinoffs — a six-show streaming deal with Peacock that included library rights to select episodes from the flagship series, Criminal Intent (10 seasons, 195 episodes); and the entire run of SVU. Ongoing Chicago shows Fire (renewed through season 11), P.D. (picked up through season 10) and Med (greenlit through season eight) are also included in the deal and will have a streaming home for the first time ever. The overall deal and streaming pact are believed to be worth a combined $1 billion-plus.
With revival, Wolf will now have the three Chicago shows and three L&Os on NBC. The network in July scrapped the planned L&O: For the Defense series that was poised to air this season, while L&O: Hate Crimes remains in purgatory. At CBS, Wolf exec produces three FBI shows, including rookie International. He is also doing a procedural for Amazon-backed IMDb TV.