After lengthy negotiations, NBC has closed a deal with producer Dick Wolf for a 16th season of crime drama Law & Order: SVU. Star Mariska Hargitay is expected to return. SVU was conspicuously missing from NBC’s list of early renewals in March. The holdup had to do with a pay cut Wolf had been asked to take in order for the show to come back, something he has been unwilling to do. For a little while, things looked like touch and go, with showrunner Warren Leight exploring other jobs, but he recently re-committed to SVU as a deal with NBC began to look imminent. The renewal restores Wolf’s NBC drama series tally to three for a second consecutive season. His Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. already had been renewed. SVU is a Wolf Films production in association with Universal TV. Dick Wolf is creator and executive producer; Leight, Julie Martin, Jonathan Starch and Peter Jankowski are executive producers. The current 15th season of the veteran drama is averaging a 2.5 in adults 18-49 and 8.4 million viewers, up double-digits from last season, +19% in adults 18-49 and +16% in total viewers. The renewal keeps Wolf’s hopes of surpassing Gunsmoke‘s record of 20 seasons alive — he got very close with the mothership Law & Order series before it was cancelled after 20 seasons.