Within days of USA Network renewing Law & Order: Criminal Intent with an order for 16 episodes, the series has just lost its showrunner. I’m told Warren Leight has left to be the showrunner of HBO’s In Treatment. It’s a big blow to Bonnie Hammer, promoted two months ago to head the newly created NBCU Cable Entertainment & Cable Studio. The former USA Network/Sci Fi Channel boss had been in the midst of hammering out a new deal with Leight, under whose leadership CI was the top drama series in basic cable primetime for the fourth quarter, more than doubling USA’s audience in the 10 p.m. Thursday slot from the same period the previous year. The first-run CI segments last fall averaged about 4.1 million viewers and about 2 million adults 18-49. By contrast, HBO’s In Treatment has struggled to find an audience since its January 28th premiere bombed with only 446,000 viewers. To drum up interest in the first time an HBO series has been stripped Monday-Friday, the pay channel has been putting full and free episodes on the Internet. So Leight will face quite an uphill battle. The Tony Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and film director joined the staff of CI in its 2nd season on a tip from Theresa Rebeck to then executive producer Rene Balcer, who subsequently recommended Leight to takeover as the show’s executive producer and head writer in 2006 when Balcer left at the end of the fifth season.
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