Dick Wolf's 'New York Undercover' Reboot Gets Pilot Order at ABC

The drama, which is in development, would see the 'Law & Order' mastermind branch out to shows on three of the big four broadcast networks.
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'New York Undercover' (Inset: Dick Wolf)

Mega-producer Dick Wolf is looking to expand to a third of the big four broadcast networks.

The mastermind behind NBC's Law & Order and Chicago franchises and CBS' FBI is rebooting the former Fox drama New York Undercover, with Disney-owned ABC handing out a pilot-production order for the potential series days after news of the project first leaked.

The reboot, which Wolf's agent and WME head of television Rick Rosen cryptically mentioned this month during a Paley Center panel, is written by Ben Watkins (Amazon's Hand of God), with Wolf and his Universal Television-based Wolf Entertainment banner's Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski attached. The drama is a co-production between Universal Television and ABC Studios. (Wolf's CBS rookie procedural FBI follows a similar producing split as CBS TV Studios owns 50 percent of the series alongside UTV.) 

Co-created by Wolf and Kevin Arkadie, New York Undercover aired for four seasons on Fox from 1994-98. Malik Yoba, Michael DeLorenzo, Lauren Velez and Josh Hopkins starred in the drama that was originally produced by Universal Television. The show took place in the same universe as Wolf's original Law & Order and its subsequent spinoffs (and Homicide: Life on the Street). The series is notable for being the first police procedural on U.S. television to boast two people of color in the leading roles.

Rosen this month noted that multiple networks had entered a bidding war for the New York Undercover reboot before it landed at ABC. "It's the type of franchise that you can redo, and you don't necessarily have to use the same cast," he said during the Paley Center panel, which was moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's editorial director Matthew Belloni.

For ABC, New York Undercover arrives as the Disney-owned broadcaster is currently casting a reboot of another iconic cop drama, NYPD Blue. The project, which is in development, is described as a sequel that follows Andy Sipowicz's (original star Dennis Franz) son, Theo, as he tries to earn his detective shield and work in the 15th squad while investigating his father's murder. Former NYPD Blue writer Matt Olmstead — who was a showrunner on Wolf's NBC drama Chicago PD — is penning the script.

Should ABC move forward with New York Undercover, Wolf could have an impressive seven shows on three broadcast networks in the 2019-20 season, as NBC has already gone straight to series on a new Law & Order spinoff — Hate Crimes — and could renew SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago PD, with FBI considered likely to earn a second season at CBS.

For his part, Watkins next executive produces the Apple drama Are You Sleeping, starring Octavia Spencer. His credits also include the USA Network procedural Burn Notice. He is repped by WME.

Updated: This story was updated Dec. 11 to reflect ABC's formal pilot production order.