Chris Meloni's 'Law & Order: SVU' Spinoff Delayed at NBC Amid Showrunner Change (Exclusive)

Law and Order: SVU- Christopher Meloni- Photofest still - H 2020
NBC/Photofest

Elliot Stabler's return will have to wait.

Law & Order: Organized Crime, the SVU spinoff set to feature Chris Meloni's long-awaited return to the Dick Wolf franchise, is changing showrunners and has been delayed from NBC's anticipated "fall" schedule.

Sources say showrunner Matt Olmstead is exiting the straight-to-series drama amid challenges cracking the show's creative. Olmstead, who quietly signed a lucrative three-year overall deal to return to his former home with Universal TV, is expected to land at another Wolf-produced show. Olmstead previously had a four-year stint with Wolf Entertainment, where he helped launch and eventually served as showrunner on Chicago Fire, co-created and ran Chicago P.D. and helped develop Chicago Med as well as oversaw multiple crossover episodes of the Chicago universe. He departed in May 2017 and signed a two-year, eight-figure overall deal with ABC Studios where he helped launch last season's Stumptown. (The latter series changed showrunners after Olmstead departed amid a creative shift before it was surprisingly canceled last month.)

As for L&O: Organized Crime, the Meloni-led spinoff was picked up straight to series back in March with a 13-episode order. Wolf executive produces alongside Arthur W. Forney, Peter Jankowski, Fred Berner and Terry Miller. In June, NBC announced that the show would take over the prized Thursdays at 10 p.m. slot on its "fall" schedule. A return date had yet to be announced given the challenges associated with production during the pandemic. NBC's lone scheduled scripted drama remains This Is Us as the network, like others, has set a staggered premieres based on when production can resume.

Sources note that L&O: Organized Crime is still slated to air sometime during the 2020-21 broadcast season, though it's unclear when. The new season officially got under way late last month as an increasing number of scripted dramas and comedies have returned to production and are beginning to roll out in the coming weeks. The Meloni series had yet to begin production or reveal its full cast.

L&O: Organized Crime brings Meloni back to the Wolf and L&O fold after he departed SVU following season 12. The show joins the long-gestating Law & Order: Hate Crimes in limbo for Wolf and company. That show was ordered straight-to-series with a 13-episode pickup in September 2018 and was delayed the following March. Warren Leight, who captains SVU and serves as showrunner on Hate Crimes, previously told THR's TV's Top 5 podcast in June that it's likely to wind up at NBCUniversal-owned streamer Peacock at some point, though there has not been any official comment on the show's status.

NBC, Universal TV and Wolf Entertainment declined comment.