NBC is expanding the Law & Order universe again.
The network has given a series commitment to Law & Order: Hate Crimes, a new series from L&O creator Dick Wolf and former Law & Order: SVU showrunner Warren Leight. The initial order is for 13 episodes.
The show is based on the real-life Hate Crimes Task Force within the New York Police Department. The unit works under the Special Victims Unit (the basis for SVU) within the department and often borrows SVU detectives for help with investigations.
"As with all of my crime shows, I want to depict what's really going on in our cities and shine a light on the wide-ranging victims and show that justice can prevail," Wolf said Tuesday in a statement. "Twenty years ago when SVU began, very few people felt comfortable coming forward and reporting these crimes, but when you bring the stories into people’s living rooms — with characters as empathetic as Olivia Benson — a real dialogue can begin. That's what I hope we can do with this new show in a world where hate crimes have reached an egregious level."
The new series will be introduced during an episode in the latter part of SVU's forthcoming 20th season. That would likely mean L&O: Hate Crimes would premiere as a stand-alone series sometime in 2019.
"As Law & Order: SVU enters its remarkable 20th season, it is exciting to get back into business with Dick Wolf on a new Law & Order incarnation that feels extremely timely,” said Lisa Katz, co-president of scripted programming at NBC Entertainment. "Considering that last year there was a double-digit rise in hate crimes in our 10 largest cities — the highest total in over a decade — it seemed like this topic is begging to be explored."
Hate Crimes will be the seventh NBC show to carry the Law & Order banner in the past 30 years, following the long-running original, SVU, Criminal Intent and the short-lived iterations Trial by Jury and Law & Order: Los Angeles. Last season's Law & Order True Crime dramatized the real-life Menendez murders in Los Angeles, but wasn't part of the fictional Law & Order-verse; the 2006 NBC series Conviction was set in that world, but didn't have the L&O name.
All told, the Law & Order franchise (not including True Crime or Conviction) spans a whopping 52 seasons and more than 1,100 episodes.
The series order for Hate Crimes also keeps NBC in business with Wolf, who, in addition to SVU, also executive produces NBC's three Chicago series. Wolf Films is also behind CBS' new drama FBI.