Mothership reconnection: Balcer, 'L&O'


Rene Balcer is returning to "Law & Order" as executive producer on the West Coast as the NBC drama returns for its 18th season.

The Emmy-winning writer-producer had left the show several years ago to develop and executive produce "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." But with "L&O" getting renewed and "Criminal Intent" going to USA Network for its first run next season, Balcer is returning to the "mothership."

He will replace Nicolas Wooten.

"L&O" creator/executive producer Dick Wolf noted that it's been almost 20 years since he and Balcer began to work together.

"Rene's talent has been manifest since the first season of 'Law & Order,' " he said. "It was under his watch that the show won the outstanding drama series Emmy Award, and his work on 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' was groundbreaking. Rene's return to 'Law & Order' signals a creative renaissance on the mothership that should carry us closer to my ultimate goal of beating 'Gunsmoke.' "

"Gunsmoke," the longest- running primetime drama in TV history, ran 20 seasons on CBS, from 1955-75.