Dick Wolf is spearheading another extension of his venerable Law & Order franchise, and this time he has partnered with one of the key auspices behind another hugely successful procedural drama franchise from the last two decades, CSI‘s Carol Mendelsohn.
NBC has given a straight-to-series order to Law & Order: For the Defense, a new legal drama from Law & Order creator Wolf, which will take a look inside a criminal defense firm. The series will put the lawyers under a microscope, along with the criminal justice system, with every week delivering the promise of a contemporary morality tale.
“This new show is exciting for me personally,” Wolf said. “We spent the last 30 years on shows that played offense. Now it will be great to play defense, and being able to do it with Carol is an honor and an opportunity for both of us to do television that hasn’t been done before.”
Mendelsohn will serve as showrunner. She is executive producing with Wolf, Arthur Forney, Julie Weitz and Peter Jankowski. The series will be produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, and Wolf Entertainment. It stems from Wolf’s and Mendelsohn’s deals with the studio.
“We can’t wait to bring audiences the latest chapter of Law & Order, which will explore a different angle of the criminal justice system,” said Lisa Katz, President, Scripted Programming, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We’re excited about Dick Wolf’s perpetually thought-provoking approach as well his collaboration with Carol Mendelsohn, who we have been eager to do a series with for a long time.”
This marks the second year in a row that NBC has picked up a new Law & Order installment with a straight-to-series order. It follows Law & Order: SVU offshoot Law & Order: Organized Crime, starring Chris Meloni, which premiered April 1 and is the top series debut from any network in 2½ years (excluding NFL lead-ins.)
The Law & Order brand launched in 1990 with the original Emmy-winning Law & Order, which ran for 20 seasons. Law & Order: SVU, starring Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay, remains strong in its 22nd season, having broken the record for the longest-running live-action series in the history of television.
In addition to the mothership Law & Order series, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Organized Crime, the franchise has yielded four other scripted series to date: Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Trial By Jury, Law & Order: LA and Law & Order: True Crime. Additionally, NBC has been looking to do another offshoot, Law & Order: Hate Crimes, for several years.
In addition to the Law & Order brand, Wolf is executive producer of two other highly rated broadcast drama franchises, Chicago on NBC and FBI on CBS.
Mendelsohn, who honed her craft with Stephen J. Cannell and Aaron Spelling, joined CSI at the pilot stage and ran the mothership series in addition to co-spearheading the expansion of the franchise as co-creator of CSI: Miami, CSI: New York and CSI: Cyber. She previously explored legal defense with the 2010 series The Defenders, about a pair of defense attorneys played by Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell.
Wolf and Mendelsohn are repped by WME. Mendelsohn is also with TFC Management.
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