The fate of NBC’s ‘Law & Order’ is up in the air

05.13.10 8 years ago


It has been a topsy-turvy day for fans of NBC’s “Law & Order.”
In the morning, Michael Ausiello of EW reported that the Dick Wolf procedural was likely to be renewed for a 21st season, breaking the record set by “Gunsmoke.”
Hours later, claimed an exclusive indicating that “Law & Order” was actually being cancelled by NBC, that the renewal hopes had been contingent upon a new off-network deal being reached with TNT.
Minutes later, the gentleman behind tweeted that the cancellation reports were premature.
All three of those rather conflicting reports — renewal, cancellation, limbo — were unsourced.
However, as the cherry on the “Law & Order” cake, New York Times TV reporter Brian Stelter tweeted that he was told by Ed Zuckerman, formerly a co-executive producer on “Law & Order, that Dick Wolf’s office told him the show had been cancelled. Stelter’s story, still tentative despite named confirmation, is here.
It wasn’t surprising, then, when reported that “Law & Order” had officially been cancelled, but reported at the exact same moment that negotiations were still ongoing.
You know who we trust? Michael Schneider at Variety. Here’s what he says is happening.
More insight comes from Joe Adalian over in his new gig at NY Mag’s Vulture.
On one hand, this counts as a significant impasse because “Law & Order” is one of this era’s true landmark shows, earning a record 11 consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series and winning the top prize in 1997. The show launched lucrative spinoffs in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” still a reliable performer on NBC Wednesdays, and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” which migrated from NBC to USA. It has also been reported, but unconfirmed, that NBC is ordering a “Law & Order: Los Angeles” to air next season.
That makes the show’s hypothetical, unconfirmed cancellation fairly noteworthy.
On the other hand, we’re talking about a drama that has struggled to draw even 6.5 million viewers in Friday and then Monday airings this season, a pretty low threshold for what was once one of the most popular shows on TV. While “Law & Order” has performed better at 10 p.m. on Mondays than it was on Fridays in the fall, the series has been regularly finishing a distant third among adults 18-49 and in total viewers.
HitFix reached out through official NBC channels for any sort of actual confirmation or denial for any of this, but we’ve yet to hear back.
NBC is announcing its primetime roster on Sunday ahead of the network’s upfronts presentation on Monday. Hopefully we’ll have something tangible to report by then.

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