'L&O' may find new home at TNT

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With time running out for a renewal of "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" at NBC, the mothership series might find another home for next season.

Sources said TNT is in talks with "L&O" producers Wolf Films and NBC Universal TV Studio about picking up the veteran series for next season, adding original episodes of the venerable crime drama to its library of "L&O" repeats.

"Negotiations are ongoing regarding 'Law & Order' and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' and, as always, we do not comment on negotiations," Dick Wolf, chief of the "L&O" franchise, said through a spokeswoman.

A spokesman for NBC Uni TV and a spokeswoman for TNT also declined comment.

Chances for "L&O" and "L&O: CI" to continue on NBC have been considered 50-50, with the two series constantly alternating as the one more likely to be canceled. But after months of active negotiations, prospects for both series are getting dimmer as NBC is said to be loading up on new dramas for fall heading into the network's upfront presentation Monday.

Four dramas already are considered shoo-ins: "The Bionic Woman," "Chuck," "Life" and "Journeyman" have been given permission to start staffing.

The one-hour dramedy "Lipstick Jungle" also is hot, with the cop drama "Ft. Pit" and David Shore's "Alibi" also considered to have a shot.

Additionally, NBC already has picked up several returning drama series -- the other "L&O" spinoff, "Special Victims Unit," as well as the freshman hit "Heroes" and the psychic drama "Medium," which had been on the fence. With veteran "ER" coming back as a part of a two-year pickup, freshman "Friday Night Lights" expected to return, football on Sunday and NBC's desire to keep the 8 p.m. hour drama-free, the network's available shelf pace for dramas is limited.

Migration of a broadcast series to cable is rare given the different economic models on broadcast and cable and the brand association the series already has with its original broadcast home. Last year, "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz turned down an offer to move the critically acclaimed comedy to Showtime.

But TNT is in a unique position with "L&O" because the crime drama has been a mainstay on the cable network, which has been the show's syndication home for years and has built its brand around it with slogans like "We Know Drama."

Still, reducing the production budget for "L&O" to cable standards will be a major factor for a deal to be made for the show to go to TNT.

Additionally, crime procedural dramas led by "L&O" had been a hot commodity in basic cable syndication, but the genre has significantly cooled off as ratings for the reruns began to erode.

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