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Law & Order: Organized Crime undergoes a surprising showrunner change

Law & Order: Organized Crime
Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Bell (Danielle Mone Truitt) react to a dangerous clue on Law & Order: Organized Crime. Pic credit: NBC

Law & Order: Organized Crime is undergoing a change in leadership.

Per Deadline, Ilene Chaiken will be exiting as showrunner for the hit NBC drama. She’ll be replaced by Barry O’Brien for the remainder of Season 2. 

So far, there’s no word on the reasons or how it might affect the show.

Why the showrunner change on Law & Order: Organized Crime?

While Dick Wolf is the overall creator and executive producer of the Law & Order franchise, he’s too busy to handle the day-to-day aspects of each series. Thus, as is traditional in television, a set of showrunners focuses on each series.

In the case of Law & Order: Organized Crime, Matt Olmstead had been the original showrunner when the series was put into production in late 2020. Unfortunately, as with many TV shows in that year, its production was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In December 2020, Olmstead left for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Chaiken, who had previously created the hit Showtime drama The L Word. She had also been an executive producer on Fox’s Empire.

Chaiken helped craft the series about Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) returning to New York to battle mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott).

The move comes as a surprise with Chaiken having talked about the plans for the show as it moves into the final arc of its season. As of yet, there is no comment from Chaiken on the exit, although Wolf issued a brief statement to Deadline. 

“Ilene did a terrific job launching the series and is a gifted writer. She leaves the show in good hands and we are incredibly grateful for her contributions.”

O’Brien is best known for co-creating the Disney Channel hit Hannah Montana. He also wrote for scores of series such as CSI: Miami, Castle, and The Following. O’Brien had joined Law & Order: Organized Crime as a co-producer in November 2021.

What does this exit mean for Law & Order: Organized Crime?

Jennifer Beals
Jennifer Beals joining Law & Order: Organized Crime as Mrs. Webb. Pic credit: Showtime

Chaiken’s exit isn’t expected to majorly affect the rest of the series. There are only five episodes left to be filmed and all scripted.

The current storyline is wrapping up the clash of Stabler and Wheatley before McDermott joins the cast of FBI: Most Wanted. 

The next story arc will focus on the police taking on the Marcy Killers gang, led by Preston Webb (Mykelti Williamson). Among the co-stars of this arc is The L Word star Jennifer Beals as Webb’s wife.

Beals had talked to Entertainment Tonight on how she took the role to work with Chaiken again.

“I love Ilene. We work together so well. She’s so smart and wise and talented and I was excited to work with her again. She and the writers came up with a really great character. And there was no way I could say no to them.” 

While it’s not expected the rest of Season 2 will change from what Chaiken had planned, changing showrunners so suddenly is a surprising move that might affect Law & Order: Organized Crime as it wraps up its sophomore season.

Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC. 

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