BREAKING NEWS! KEEP REFRESHING! 3:30 PM UPDATE!
Here’s the latest news on this fast-moving story. A deal was in place if NBC picked up the Law & Order flagship for a 21st season consisting of 16 episodes. But insiders say Dick Wolf is now accusing the network of going back (some use the word “reneging”) on that arrangement made in March: “He’s so fucking angry, you have no idea.”
As recently as the start of this week, even NBCU chief Jeff Zucker was privately telling people that L&O would get one more season. That’s certainly what Wolf and his longtime reps (UTA and Ziffren Brittenham legal eagle Cliff Gilbert) were led to believe from NBC suits Marc Graboff and Jeff Gaspin. That is, until last night.
Wolf simply wanted NBC to live up to the deal that both sides had agreed to back in March. According to that arrangement already in place, NBC/Universal Media Studios was supposed to go to TNT and negotiate a new deal (the old one was up) whereby the cable channel would finance some original episodes of Law & Order in order to continue getting runs of the show. “And, for whatever reason, NBC was unwilling to engage in a serious way with TNT. They didn’t do it. At the last minute, they said, ‘We’ll pick the show up and this is how we’re going to do it’. Which was ludicrous.” That’s when NBC threw its agreement with Wolf out the window and demanded Wolf kick in to help “finance the pickup of Law & Order out of all the money he’s made. And his reps said, ‘Never going to happen’,” according to an insider. Another source explained the situation: “Graboff broke off the negotiations last night when they fell apart based on Team Dick’s unwillingness to make certain deal concessions deemed unreasonable.”
But that’s not all. According to NBC insiders, immediately, Team Dick contacted Gaspin. And that email exchange revealed that Gaspin didn’t realize the show had been cancelled. Network sources say there was a lack of communication between Graboff and Gaspin, who didn’t know the negotiations had broken off. But then Gaspin confirmed it. This morning and afternoon, the producers began calling reps for the show’s stars and telling them about the cancellation.
Now Wolf wants to try to make a deal to take the Law & Order flagship to TNT, the same place that John Wells and Warner Bros took Southland after it, too, was cancelled by NBC. In that case, NBC tried to hold up the switch. And that could happen this time as well, or even something much more complicated since Law & Order is a UMS show.
NBC so far has not issued any public statement confirming the cancellation. It is possible, just possible, that this could be a game of chicken — and NBC come back to Wolf’s reps honoring the deal made in March. Don’t be surprised if talks start up again.
Wolf, after all still has L&O: SVU, L&O: Criminal Intent, and now the newest spinoff, L&O: Los Angeles on NBC. I hear the next test of wills may come immediately because Wolf wants LOLA (the new show’s nickname) to be given the Wednesday 10 PM time slot right after L&O: SVU. There may be more to report today, so stay tuned.
EXCLUSIVE 2 PM: This one is a shocker. Veteran crime drama Law & Order will not get its shot at history after all. I hear that after long deliberations, NBC has decided to cancel the long-running procedural, which will end its run at 20 seasons, tied with Gunsmoke. This is very surprising as NBC brass had indicated lately that they would bring L&O for a record-breaking 21st season. But with strong development, especially on the drama side, and soft ratings for L&O, NBC apparently opted not to keep the aging series, which spawned several successful spinoffs. The latest, Law & Order: Los Angeles, will launch next season. L&O‘s renewal by NBC was also contingent on securing a sizable commitment from the series’ cable home TNT whose off-network deal for the show was up at the end of this season.