- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The network, in a surprising turn, has scrapped its straight-to-series order for Law & Order spinoff For the Defense. The drama was picked up in May and envisioned to open the network’s prime Thursday lineup before leading into the 23rd season of SVU and sophomore run of Organized Crime.
Sources note that the decision to abandon the For the Defense series — which was to be overseen by former CSI: Crime Scene Investigation showrunner Carol Mendelsohn — was a mutual one between Wolf and NBC. Producers Universal Television, where Wolf is under a massive, nine-figure overall deal — will continue to work with the procedural king on other L&O spinoffs. The news arrives as For the Defense had yet to cast anyone for the series, making the envisioned September launch impossible at this point in time.
Wolf extended his longtime deal with Universal Television in February 2020, with the pact including multiple L&O spinoffs for the company. The move to scrap For the Defense — which Wolf said was personally “exciting” to explore the defense after 30 years of stories from the offense — comes after NBCUniversal has seen other L&O spinoffs struggle out of the gate. The Chris Meloni-led Organized Crime was renewed for a second season based on the strength of his status as a fan favorite from SVU; the series was picked up in March 2020 and envisioned for a September debut. That was pushed to midseason after the series parted ways with showrunner Matt Olmstead, a veteran of Wolf’s Chicago franchise.
Wolf’s L&O spinoff Hate Crimes has also been in purgatory since it was picked up straight to series in September 2018. From SVU’s Warren Leight, the showrunner told THR’s TV’s Top 5 podcast in June 2020 that the series — which also has yet to cast — was likely to wind up at NBCUniversal-owned streamer Peacock at some point, though there has not been any official comment on the show’s status.
Wolf has eight scripted shows on the air: NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, L&O: Organized Crime, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire and Chicago Med; CBS’ FBI and spinoffs FBI: Most Wanted and FBI: International. The Mariska Hargitay-led SVU is the longest-running primetime live-action TV series in American history. All three FBI series will air as a big programming block on CBS starting Sept. 21, while NBC on Thursday confirmed all three Chicago shows will return for another three-hour block on Wednesdays beginning Sept. 22.
The Blacklist will move from its previously planned home on Fridays to Thursdays starting Oct. 21 to fill the void created by For the Defense. In the interim, SVU will return with a two-hour premiere, with Organized Crime airing back-to-back episodes the following week. It’s unclear how NBC will fill the slot until The Blacklist is ready.
NBC described Law & Order: For the Defense as an “unbiased” look at a criminal defense firm, putting the lawyers and the criminal justice system under the microscope and promising a “contemporary morality tale” in each episode. The move to drop the series comes as police shows are under scrutiny for promoting the “hero cop” agenda in the wake of racial reckonings following the murder of George Floyd. SVU showrunner Leight opened up about the topic in the exclusive TV’s Top 5 interview last summer. Listen to that here. Wolf, meanwhile, has remained mum on the topic.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day