“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” exec producer-showrunner Rene Balcer has left the show, ending a 16-year tenure with the “L&O” machine.
Tony Award winner Warren Leight (“Side Man”), who’s been working on “Criminal Intent” for several years — most recently as co-exec producer — will fill Balcer’s shoes as showrunner next season.
Insiders said the amicable split occurred after both sides failed to come to terms over a new deal for Balcer, who’d been aiming for a much higher paycheck. The showrunner’s deal came up as NBC ordered another year of “Criminal Intent” in April.
An Emmy and Peabody winner, Balcer has worked with Wolf Films since 1990, starting as a staff writer on “Law & Order.” He later moved up the ranks to eventually run “Law & Order,” which scored the drama Emmy in 1997 under his watch.
Balcer has run “Law & Order: CI” since its September 2001 launch.
“He has been one of the most prolific writers in the history of the brand,” said “L&O” chief Dick Wolf. “Rene has brought an unbelievable period of growth and stability to ‘Criminal Intent,’ but this is business as usual for the brand.”
Wolf noted the “L&O” mothership is on its 10th showrunner, Nick Wootton, while Neal Baer is the third showrunner on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
“Situations like this illustrate the advantages of having bench strength,” Wolf said.
Balcer continues to hold a deal with NBC Universal TV Studios, where he’ll now work on new projects.
“This parting of the ways was neither Dick’s nor my idea,” Balcer said. “I would work with Dick again in a New York minute.”
Besides winning the Tony in 1999 for “Side Man,” Leight wrote and produced Sidney Lumet’s A&E drama “100 Centre Street.” He joined “Criminal Intent” in its second season.