'Law & Order: SVU' showrunner to exit show after 11 seasons
After 11 seasons, “Law and Order: SVU” exec producer Neal Baer will leave the NYPD beat at the end of this season for a rich three-year development and production pact with CBS Television Studios.Baer has been a mainstay in the Dick Wolf shop, and he’s been courted for development by other studios for years. His CBS TV Studios deal takes effect June 1. Baer’s segue to CBS was a natural fit because of his long relationships with CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler and CBS TV Studios prexy David Stapf. Tassler and Stapf were execs at Warner Bros. TV when Baer, who is also a licensed physician, cut his first primetime deal to work as a writer-producer on the debut season of NBC’s “ER.” “After more than a decade on ‘SVU,’ I felt it was time to take a breath and say, ‘What’s next?’ And those people who were there for me at the very beginning said, ‘We’re next,’” Baer told Daily Variety. From Eye boss Leslie Moonves on down, the CBS team “admires and respects the writing process, and I admire their insight and passion for storytelling,” Baer said. “I think that’s a good combination.” Stapf said he and Tassler had been eager to bring Baer into the CBS fold for years. “He’s one of the preeminent showrunners with a style that particularly fits with what we strive to do,” Stapf said. “We feel like we know him incredibly well and we can’t wait to get started.” Baer, who moved from “ER” to “SVU” at the start of the latter drama’s second season, said the decision to leave the “SVU” family was not easy. He and stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni and numerous production staffers have worked shoulder to shoulder for nearly a dozen years. With the CBS deal now done, Baer has more than six months to prep for the transition and finish out the current season “with great stories and amazing (guest) actors,” he said. “I’ve loved every moment of ‘SVU,’ and I am deeply grateful to Dick Wolf for giving me the opportunity to work on a show of such depth and profundity,” Baer added. Wolf, for his part, lauded Baer for his “superb job” running “SVU.” “Under his aegis, the show has become one of the most important venues for the exploration of a host of psychological and sexual issues,” Wolf said.Baer is repped by Paradigm and attorney Michael Gendler.