Though NBC entertainment president Anglea Bromstad previously indicated that Law & Order would continue for a 21st season, there are now reports that the show has been cancelled.
Law & Order was created by Dick Wolf and first debuted in September 1990. The series revolves around NYPD crime investigations and the trials that follow. Though the premise has remained the same, the cast has changed many times over the years. The current performers include Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Linus Roache, Alana de la Garza, and Sam Waterston.
Interestingly, the TV show didn’t break into the top 30 in the ratings until its fourth season. Even more amazing is that Law & Order actually hit its ratings peak in season 12 when it placed at number seven for the year. The show has been in decline since then however, ranking 73rd in year 17 and then 62nd last season.
By all accounts, it should been cancelled years ago but it’s kept on a tight budget. Last spring, Wolf reportedly made concessions to NBC so that the show could stay on the air in order to tie Gunsmoke’s number of seasons on the air.
In January, Bromstad said that she was a Law & Order junkie and wouldn’t want to be the one to go down in history for cancelling the series. Though the ratings are terrible, the show can be used as a utility player to fill spots in the schedule and it is produced in-house. NBC certainly has a lot of spots to fill in the 2010-11 schedule.
Things weren’t looking as certain in late March however. TNT has a syndication deal with Wolf Films and NBC-Universal to run the first 20 seasons of Law & Order. They are not, however, obligated to purchase any additional seasons and, per the agreement, NBC can’t shop them elsewhere.
Because the ratings for Law & Order are so poor, NBC needs the TNT license fees to offset production costs. The cable channel was understandably hesitant to buy more. They had to take a $104 million loss stemming from a deal to purchase Without a Trace which has under-performed.
There are now conflicting reports that Law & Order has been cancelled. While NBC is not commenting, several outlets are reporting the news with different sources as proof. Deadline broke the news but did not cite a source for the news. EOnline is reporting that the cast and crew were given the bad news earlier today. Meanwhile, NY Times reporter Brian Stelter has confirmed the news from Ed Zuckerman, a former executive producer for Law & Order. He says that he was given the news by Wolf’s office.
On the other side of things, EW and The Futon Critic are reporting that talks are still ongoing and the venerable drama might survive to see another season. We’ll keep you updated as things unfold. NBC is supposed to unveil their new schedule on Sunday so we should know for sure by then.
What do you think? Is Law & Order finally toast or will the long-running drama return next season?