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TNT not talking about picking up 'Law & Order'

May 13, 2010 |  4:27 pm

If NBC doesn't come up with enough cash to keep "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf happy, don't be surprised if he tries to shop the 20-year-old show to the cable network TNT.

Time Warner's TNT is the logical choice for the show. It has been running repeats of "Law & Order" for years.

 But one should not automatically assume that means TNT will jump at the chance for original episodes. The cable network has plenty of original shows, including "Leverage," "The Closer," "Men of a Certain Age" and "Southland."

In a statement, TNT said: "Law & Order has been a valuable programming asset for TNT.  Currently, we have multiple seasons under license, up to and including Season 20. With this series, TNT is the buyer and NBC is the seller.  TNT is not in ongoing discussions about picking up the series for first-run episodes."

NBC was interested in bringing back "Law & Order," but it did not want a full season of the show or even 13 episodes. Part of the reason was the cost. Although most of the show's cast has proven to be replaceable, it is still expensive. Many of the costs are tied to Wolf's paycheck as a creator and executive producer. 

So far this season, "Law & Order" has been averaging under 8 million viewers. While the flagship series may be toast, "SVU" and a new spin-off set in Los Angeles are expected to be on NBC's air next season.

-- Joe Flint