'Police' report: NBC, Wells close


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.

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

Last month, NBC said it will strip a talk show hosted by Jay Leno in the 10 p.m. slot beginning in the fall. 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. Scenarios under consideration include trimming the order to six episodes or making the series a co-production with NBC. (partialdiff)