|On the same day that NBC announced the completion of its merger with Vivendi Universal Entertainment, the network announced a second important move to ensure the long-term future of NBC Universal. NBC has agreed to a multi-tiered agreement and extension with Wolf Films and executive producer Dick Wolf.|
The new agreement extends Wolf's overall deal with NBC through June of 2008. All three of Wolf's currently running dramas -- "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" -- received two-year pick-ups, carrying the reliable drama veterans through the 2005-06 season.
The deal also adds a fourth "Law & Order" franchise, branded "Law & Order: Trial By Jury," for the 2004-05 season. NBC is believed to be looking at "Trial By Jury" for a midseason slot.
"This is a hugely important deal that assures NBC and viewers of many more years of the most successful drama franchise on TV and offers the promise of a fourth new series," says NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker. "We're looking forward to continuing our long relationship with Dick Wolf and his entire team for many years to come."
The flagship Wednesday "Law & Order" is now set to run through at least its 16th season, which would make it the second longest-running drama series in television history and the longest-running police drama. In this, its 14th season, "Law & Order" has averaged 15.9 million viewers per week and is a reliable time slot winner among adults 18-49.
"Special Victims Unit" and "Criminal Intent" are also reliable demographic winners for NBC. The new deal will carry "SVU," averaging 12.5 million viewers a week, through its seventh season. "CI," good for 13.3 million viewers a week, will be completing its fifth season when this deal expires.
"I've been on the air at NBC continuously for the past 20 years and this new deal means that I could be as lucky for the next 20," Wolf says. "Synergy has become an overused word, but the concept of a true partnership never goes out of style."