Jesse L. Martin eyes NBC drama

Actor in negotiations to co-star in 'Philanthropist'

Five months after he turned in his "Law & Order" badge, Jesse L. Martin is returning to NBC and Universal Media Studios with a role in "The Philanthropist."

After a lengthy courtship by the network, Martin is in negotiations to co-star on the midseason drama series opposite James Purefoy.

"Philanthropist" centers on Teddy Rist (Purefoy), a renegade billionaire who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need around the world. Martin would play Philip Maidstone, Teddy's business partner and lifelong friend.

Production on the series -- whose original 13-episode order has been reduced by several segments, as it is not expected to launch until March-April -- is slated to begin shortly. It will be based in London through NBC Universal's international TV production unit, with filming set for South Africa and the Czech Republic.

In addition to his nine-year tenure as Detective Ed Green on "L&O," Martin recently wrapped the indies "Peter and Vandy" and "Silent Rhythm" and narrated the Marvin Gaye documentary "What's Going On."

Martin, repped by Endeavor and McGowan Management, also co-stars in NBC's upcoming holiday special "Letters to Santa -- A Muppets Christmas."