'Law & Order' Creator Upset By Cancellation

“Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf said he was “jolted” by NBC’s cancellation of the fourth installment of his famous crime drama franchise but is looking forward to producing yet another show for the network.

He’s also developing a French version of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” which, if successful, could trigger a wave of overseas versions of his series, Wolf said.

The producer, whose programs are a key part of NBC’s schedule, suffered an unprecedented setback when the network dumped “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” which debuted last spring.

“I was incredibly upset, disappointed, dismayed, any other adjectives that you could care to add,” he said.

But he and the network value the “Law & Order” brand as their “most important piece of business” and the centerpiece of a close relationship, Wolf told the Television Critics Association on Monday.

“This is more like a long-term marriage with no possibility of divorce. We’re stuck together, and as in every long-term marriage, there may be hills and valleys ….” he said.

The sets for “Trial by Jury” will remain standing for at least another year in New York, Wolf said, and he expects to be in production shortly on a drama about assistant district attorneys.

“It will have a different focus and be much more a character-driven show with closed-ended episodes than a straight procedural,” Wolf said.

It will also feature a young cast; Wolf made a point of noting that the average age of prosecutors in the district attorney’s office in Manhattan is 28.

“Trial By Jury” lost star Jerry Orbach to cancer shortly after production started.

The “Law & Order” franchise includes the original show as well as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” The brand will reach 600 combined episodes this fall, and Wolf said it exists alone in “long-term profitability.”

The French series on broadcaster TF1 is likely to debut in 2006, trade paper Daily Variety reported Monday, noting that U.S. dramas have lagged behind sitcoms and reality shows in overseas adaptation.

“If it bears fruit in France, it’s a pump-primer for the rest of the world,” Wolf said.

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