Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” mother ship is about to get a British makeover.
Wolf and NBC Universal are in talks with ITV and U.K. production house Kudos Film to launch a new version of “Law & Order,” but for audiences across the Pond.
“Law & Order: London” (working title) would be given a 13-episode order by ITV — a virtually unheard-of production commitment in Blighty. Most scripted dramas are given six-episode greenlights there; insiders couldn’t remember a past 13-seg drama except for sudsers like “Coronation Street” or “EastEnders.”
But “Law & Order: London” virtually comes with a built-in audience: The U.S. version of “Law & Order” has been a hit in the U.K. for years. NBC launched the 18th season of “Law & Order” on Wednesday night, which means 18 years of scripts available to rework for the “London” version.
Deal is similar to earlier format sales Wolf engineered in France and Russia. Local editions of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” are produced in both countries; a version of “Law & Order: SVU” runs in Russia as well. The pact with ITV and Kudos would rep the first foreign arrangement for the original “Law & Order” format.
Like the editions in France and Russia, “Law & Order: London” will rely on scripts originally written for the U.S. show but reworked to meet local customs. For example, instead of defense attorneys, barristers will be seen representing the accused.
Format sale has been in the works for almost a year. Deal reps the first under former NBC Universal TV (now Universal Media Studios) prexy Angela Bromstad, who set up shop in London last year to oversee NBC U’s TV output there.
There’s no deal in place, but it’s likely that “Law & Order: London” would make it back to the U.S., probably on an NBC U-owned cabler like USA (which already runs original “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” segs) or Bravo.
Kudos Film was acquired by Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group last year; coincidentally, Shine is currently in the process of purchasing NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman’s Reveille shingle. Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone are joint managing directors of Kudos.
U.K. adaptations of scripted U.S. series are rare but not unheard of. Carsey-Werner attempted a version of “That ’70s Show” in Britain, called “Days Like These,” while “Who’s the Boss?” was reworked as Britcom “The Upper Hand.”