EXCLUSIVE: Dick Wolf is once again looking to expand his Law & Order empire to 4 series on the air. Sources tell me that NBC has picked up Law & Order: Los Angeles (aka LOLA) with a 13-episode order for fall. Brotherhood creator Blake Masters is on board to write the new series set in Los Angeles with Wolf. The Wolf Films/UMS project has been in development for the past couple of months.
Additionally, Law & Order: SVU is cleared for a 12th season pending some minor budgetary matters. The cast led by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni have already been clearing their schedule to shoot new episodes for the crime drama in June and July. Hargitay and Meloni are set to return as part of the one-year deal they signed with NBC after lengthy negotiations last spring, which includes an option for a second year. After suffering a sharp ratings decline in the fall when it was transplanted from 10 PM to 9 PM to make room for The Jay Leno Show, SVU has been gaining ground since it was moved back to 10 PM after the Winter Olympics. The show also is getting a boost this spring from a story arc with Sharon Stone.
Meanwhile, chances also look pretty good a record-breaking 21st season of the mothership Law & Order series, with the series’ cable home TNT expected to pitch in with an off-network fee to offset the cost of bringing the show back. Not returning for the record 21st season is veteran cast member S. Epatha Merkerson who recently asked the series’ producers to be released. (She didn’t have a deal beyond Season 20.)
Elsewhere, after a cast overhaul, Law & Order: Criminal Intent just kicked in its 9th season on USA Network. The last time Wolf had 4 L&O series on the air was in 2005 when the short-lived Law & Order: Trial by Jury joined the stories franchise.
NBC, UMS and Wolf Films declined comment.