Ilene Chaiken Inks Overall Deal With Universal Television, Joins ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ As Showrunner

EXCLUSIVE: The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken has signed a big overall deal with Universal Television to develop and produce scripted content. As part of the pact, Chaiken will serve as executive producer/showrunner on the first season of NBC’s upcoming Law & Order: SVU spinoff series, Law & Order: Organized Crime, starring Chris Meloni, from Dick Wolf’s Wolf Entertainment and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group.

Chaiken succeeds Matt Olmstead, who stepped down as showrunner in October.

She is coming off a high-profile showrunner stint on Fox’s Empire at her previous studio home, 20th Television. Chaiken also boarded Empire, created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, at the start as showrunner, steering its ascent to become the biggest series on television early in its run. Chaiken ran Empire for the series’ first 3.5 seasons.

“I’ve always admired Ilene’s work from afar and am excited to finally have the opportunity to collaborate together,” said Universal Television President Erin Underhill. “Her talent is undeniable and she brings a strong, distinct voice to her storytelling with beautifully crafted characters. Her success across all platforms makes her incomparable, and we are thrilled to welcome her to UTV.”

Chaiken created and executive produced the groundbreaking Showtime series The L Word. It was recently rebooted by the network with a sequel, The L Word: Generation Q, which Chaiken executive produces. Chaiken also served as an executive producer on the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale after developing an early incarnation of the project and shared in the show’s outstanding drama series Emmy. She also produced the docu-dramas The Real L Word and The Real L Word Mississippi, which won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary, and served as showrunner of the drama series Black Box.


In Law & Order: Organized Crime, Meloni, reprising his role as Elliot Stabler, returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after a devastating personal loss. However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he’s been away and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Stabler will aim to find absolution and rebuild his life while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one.

Meloni is returning to the mothership series Law & Order: SVU during its current season in a crossover event that will lead into the Organized Crime spinoff.

Law & Order: Organized Crime
is created by Dick Wolf. He, Chaiken, Terry Miller, Fred Berner, Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski will executive produce.

Chaiken joins Universal Television’s roster of overall deals that includes Wolf, Julie Plec, Justin Lin, Michael Schur, Jenna Bans, Martin Gero, Robert Carlock and Tina Fey. She is repped by 3 Arts and attorneys Craig Jacobson and Bruce Gellman.