‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’: Why Did Show Switch Showrunners Right Before Season 1’s Premiere?

by Madison Miller

Right before the premiere of the highly anticipated spin-off, “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” which featured the epic return of Detective Elliot Stabler, a new showrunner took over the project.

The NBC series with Christopher Meloni originally had Matt Olmstead as the writer-showrunner when the show set off. Olmstead worked for “Chicago P.D.,” “Prison Break,” and “Chicago Fire.” He stepped down from “Law & Order: Organized Crime” in October 2020.

The show faced delays, as it was originally set to be a part of the fall 2020 schedule.

Show Switches Showrunners

According to Deadline, Wolf Entertainment and Universal TV decided to take extra time making “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” This decision is in regard to showing police work carefully on TV amidst the national unrest related to police following the death of George Floyd and national protests.

The switch isn’t uncommon for the Wolf series. The show “FBI” with Wolf Entertainment had several showrunner changes prior to its premiere. It’s heading into season three and still has good viewership.

Executives replaced Olmstead with Ilene Chaiken, the creator of the popular series “The L Word.” She’s also the executive producer of the reboot, “The L Word: Generation Q.” She was signed on as the executive producer and showrunner for the first season of “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” Chaiken was also the showrunner of “Empire” for the first three and a half series. During its early run, the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong project was the biggest TV show on.

“I’ve always admired Ilene’s work from afar and am excited to finally have the opportunity to collaborate together. Her talent is undeniable and she brings a strong, distinct voice to her storytelling with beautifully crafted characters. Her success across all platforms makes her incomparable, and we are thrilled to welcome her to UTV,” UTV President Erin Underhill said, according to Deadline.

Chaiken earned a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary from “The Real L Word” and “The Real L Word Mississippi.”

Second Season of ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’

“Law & Order: Organized Crime” got renewed for a second season. It was no surprise to fans, seeing as it was one of the most popular rookie series of the TV season.

It had an average of 8.35 million viewers with an overall rating of 1.7. The reunion of Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay garnered a lot of buzz and attention, seeing as the two spent a decade separated when Meloni left “Law & Order: SVU.”

The new season will air on Thursday during the 2021 to 2022 season. The new “Law & Order: For the Defense” and “Law & Order: SVU” are all slated for that night. Right as the show premiered, Dick Wolf spoke about the future of the show in his eyes.

“The first third of the season is The Godfather. The second third is American Gangster. And the last third is Scarface. These villains are going to be really bad guys that give Chris a constant source of energy, outrage, belief in justice, and a different way of pursuing criminals than we’ve had before,” Wolf said, according to TV Insider.

The show follows longer story arcs than other “Law & Order” programs. The new season will go beyond just Dylan McDermott as a villain.