|NBC’s new entertainment topper wanted more screen time for Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard.|
"If I had my choice, I'd almost call it Law & Order: Los Angeles 2.0," executive producer Dick Wolf said Wednesday of the creative changes the rookie drama has undergone.
The freshman series starring Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina returns from hiatus Monday with a new time slot and rejiggered story lines that find both leads increasing their screen time and appearing in every episode of the NBC drama.
The creative changes can be traced back to new NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt, who Wolf said had issues with the series.
"We had a very honest conversation, I think the second or third day he was there, that he had some problems with the show ‹ specifically with the front half and he didn't think it was clicking the way it should," Wolf added. "He was very supportive of the idea of having Alfred and Terrence in every episode."
While the first 13 episodes performed modestly with viewers -- the series averaged 8.24 million viewers and a 2.2 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic -- Wolf said LOLA's race to join the fall schedule may have been partially to blame for the underperformance.
"There had been a different schedule laid out with Los Angeles coming on after as a sort of final group of episodes from the mothership," he added. "When that didn't happen, we were in a very much breakneck race to get on the fall schedule. We had not shot a pilot; this was basically a transition at 50 miles per hour; we were going through our growing pains on-screen, which is never the first choice of the people making these shows. I would have liked to have had more time at the front end to explore different options."
Following the January exit of series regulars Skeet Ulrich, Regina Hall and Megan Boone, the series added former Law & Order veteran Alana de la Garza as Wolf and company revamped the drama, including transitioning Molina's character from deputy district attorney to LAPD detective.
"It was a rather revolutionary to change clothes on-screen," Wolf said of Molina's character change. "I think these first two episodes are better than anything we did in the first 13."
"This is a real major change and a bigger risk than any show I can remember in recent history taking," Wolf added, noting that the rhythm of the show is different. "If given the same set of circumstances, I would definitely do it again with the talent involved."
The series returns from a 19-week hiatus Monday at 9 p.m. with a two-hour episode before settling into its new slot Mondays at 10 p.m. on April 18.
LOLA, from Wolf Films and Universal Media Studios, is the fourth spinoff of Wolf's long-running Law & Order franchise.