Exec producer close to sealing deal with HBO

“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” exec producer Warren Leight is close to sealing an overall deal with HBO.

The pay cabler is seeking to sign Leight to a writing and producing deal with an eye toward his becoming involved in the shrink skein “In Treatment” should it go to a second season.

With Leight’s deal for “Criminal Intent” up, NBC Universal and USA had been busy attempting to hammer out a new pact to keep the scribe in place as showrunner for season eight (Daily Variety, May 23).

There was no word Sunday on potential replacements for Leight on “Criminal Intent.” But “Law & Order” boss Dick Wolf is no stranger to turnover on his hit franchise’s three series and has pointed out in the past that his shows have weathered showrunner changes thanks to his deep bench of producers.

Leight, for example, took over as showrunner of “Criminal Intent” in 2006 following the departure of Rene Balcer. Besides Leight and Wolf, “Criminal Intent” exec producers include Peter Jankowski and Norberto Barba.

USA and Universal Media Studios are still working out new deals with stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Chris Noth, Eric Bogosian, Julianne Nicholson and Kathryn Erbe.

Show just recently shifted its production home to the new NBC U Cable Studio, headed by USA/Sci Fi topper Bonnie Hammer.

Leight had been with “Criminal Intent” since the show’s second season. A noted playwright, Leight won the Tony in 1999 for “Side Man.” He also wrote and produced Sidney Lumet’s A&E drama “100 Centre Street.”

USA still has original episodes from “Criminal Intent’s” seventh season in the can and set to air beginning next Sunday at 9 p.m. Show will lead into the cabler’s new drama, “In Plain Sight.”

As for “In Treatment,” show scored buzz but low viewership in its first go-round on the pay cabler. HBO is still mulling a second-season pickup for the show; Leight’s arrival would seem to make a renewal more likely.

“In Treatment” — adapted from an Israeli series — was headed up by showrunner Rodrigo Garcia in season one. Garcia was exec producer along with Stephen Levinson, Hagai Levi and Mark Wahlberg.

In a brief statement, NBC U and Wolf Films said Leight “did a terrific job on ‘Criminal Intent'” and wished him luck. The network and producers are said to be close to naming a replacement.

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