UPDATE: At the NBC luncheon today, producer Dick Wolf was saying this about the status of his Law & Order: “The flagship series is in a medically induced coma, waiting for a live-saving medicine.” He noticeably spent about 10 to 15 minutes in deep conversation with NBC honcho Marc Graboff.
As Deadline previously reported when we scooped the news that NBC had cancelled the Law & Order flagship, Dick Wolf was intent on taking the show to TNT for a record-breaking 21st TV season. Well, that’s exactly what is happening. Wolf still has the 3 L&O spin-offs on the air at NBCU, ergo his clout at NBCU is considerable. So he’s pressuring the flagship’s producer NBC/Universal Media Studios to make a TNT deal for originals if an acceptable license fee can be bargained. Talks between the two will start up after upfronts. On the other hand, things didn’t go very well during their last round of bargaining pre-upfronts.
To keep L&O on NBC, Universal Media Studios was supposed to negotiate a new TNT deal whereby the cable net would finance some original L&O episodes in order to continue getting runs of the show. That’s when accusations started flying; that NBC was unwilling to engage in a serious way with TNT, and vice versa. They’re sure to play hardball again, especially with NBC in control of setting the license fee. After all, NBC is now revealing to everyone that Wolf “makes $350,000 a episode on a show that only does a 1.7” rating. Will TNT, like NBC, expect Dick to kick in $100K-$150K an episode to help finance Law & Order out of all the money he’s made — only to hear a howl out of Wolf?
Given that TNT’s off-network deal for L&O is up at the end of this season anyway, there’s incentive for the cable net to keep the flagship going. TNT, of course, is where John Wells and Warner Bros took Southland after it, too, was cancelled by NBC. In that case, NBC tried to hold up the move. Might that happen this time, too, or even something much more complicated since Law & Order is a UMS show? Stay tuned.