Sunday, May 13, 2007

The wait is over: Good news!

Well, that was a close one: the Mothership and CI will return, although originals of CI will now be on USA Network.

NBC renews 'Law' for 18th season

By Nellie Andreeva
After months of intense negotiations, NBC and Dick Wolf closed a deal over the weekend to bring veteran crime drama "Law & Order" back to the network for an 18th season.

Another "Law & Order" series whose future was up in the air, sequel "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," will move to NBC Universal's USA Network this fall, with a second window on NBC.

Additionally, Wolf has extended his overall deal with NBC through 2012.

With its last minute renewal before NBC's upfront presentation Monday, the mothership "L&O" series is closing in on "Gunsmoke," which holds the record for longest running drama series, 20 years.

Meanwhile, "L&O: CI" will return for a seventh season with premiere runs on USA, followed by an encore play on NBC. USA has had syndication rights to "CI," airing reruns of the crime drama.

"With this innovative programming move, we have significantly strengthened the already powerful USA network, given NBC maximum flexibility, and in the process have changed the paradigm of prime time television," said Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal's president and CEO. "In the end, it is all about our viewers. And this will allow our viewers continuing access to the finest programming across the premier networks of NBC Universal."

The move of "CI" to USA follows rumors about a possible migration of the original "L&O" series to TNT, which owns the syndication rights to it.

Dick Wolf, creator/executive producer of the "L&O" franchise, called the deal for "L&O" and "L&O:CI" "a win-win for everybody." The third "L&O" series, "L&O: SVU," was renewed in January.

"With all three 'Law & Orders' on the air, formats of 'SVU' and 'CI' on in Russia and France, and discussions ongoing in other territories, this new deal encourages and enhances our mutual desire for our companies to become a major force in global television," Wolf said. "I am very grateful that 'Law & Order' is coming back for its 18th season on NBC. We are scheduled to celebrate our 400th episode next season, which is a milestone that is absolutely staggering. And we are now one year closer to my ultimate dream -- to become the longest running drama in the history of television, beating Gunsmoke."

The "Law & Order" series rank as the top three off-network primetime series on basic cable through the first four months of 2007 in adults 25-54, led by "Criminal Intent" on USA (1.020 million adults 25-54).

So far this season, the original "L&O" has averaged a 2.7 rating/8 share in adults 18-49 and 9.0 million viewers overall in the Friday 10 p.m. time slot.

All "L&O" series are produced by Wolf Films and NBC Universal TV Studio.

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