NBC, John Wells on 'Police' beat

Network eyeing midseason pickup for cop drama

NBC is looking to keep a John Wells-branded drama on the air after the March finale of "ER," offering to make an episodic order for Wells' cop drama pilot "Police."

NBC is in heavy talks with Warner Bros. TV, which produces "Police" (formerly "LAPD") with studio-based John Wells Prods., for a possible midseason pickup.

According to sources, the network and studio agreed on a license fee for a 12-episode order in the fall. But WBTV is said to have turned down the original order recently, citing changed circumstances during the past month.

Last month, NBC announced that it will strip a comedy talk show hosted by Jay Leno in the 10 p.m. slot beginning in September. That leaves the producers of "Police," said to believe their show belongs at 10 p.m., faced with uncertainty if NBC would need the series beyond this season.

Also, with the economy worsening and studios forced to trim budgets, deficit-financing 12 episodes is said to be a tough prospect for WBTV.

Nonetheless, NBC and WBTV are trying to hammer out a deal that will work financially for both sides, with scenarios under consideration including trimming the order to six episodes or making the series a co-production with NBC.

Ordered to pilot in June, "Police" is an ensemble show starring Tom Everett Scott, Regina King, Benjamin McKenzie and Kevin Alejandro as a group of police officers in Los Angeles. It's executive produced by writer Ann Biderman, director Christopher Chulack and Wells.