EXCLUSIVE: While legal drama pilot Garza is on the fence at best, its high-testing star Jimmy Smits is red-hot at NBC. I hear the network has approached him to star in the new Law & Order series, L&O:LA, from Brotherhood creator Blake Masters. While considered a long shot, this is a smart move by NBC as Smits is a TV star and was great on the network’s The West Wing. The network is clearly looking for a big name to front LOLA. I also heard ramblings that it approached Dermot Mulroney, who toplines another NBC drama pilot in limbo, Rockford Files, for the new Dick Wolf series. (By the way, renewal for the flagship L&O series is pretty much a done deal. It will return for a record-breaking 21st and final season.)
Meanwhile, a retooled Garza, which is produced by Conan O’Brien’s production company, for midseason is still a possibility, though it is fading. Among the three NBC legal drama pilots, David E. Kelley’s Kindreds, Garza and Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, Kindreds still appears as the most-likely one, with Rex in the mix with solid internal support. Overall, The Cape looks like the strongest bet for a drama series pickup at NBC, possibly for midseason because of the special effects involved. Rockford is not looking good in its current incarnation and may be reshot/redeveloped. On the comedy side, Perfect Couples and Paul Reiser’s Next are going strong, with Friends With Benefits and This Little Piggy also in the mix.