Law & Order: Organized Crime has been a success story for NBC from the very beginning, which was unsurprising thanks to the very long-awaited return of SVU‘s Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler. Now, one day after the original Law & Order revival premiered to expand the L&O universe even further, a big change is happening behind the scenes with the departure of showrunner/executive producer Ilene Chaiken, with executive producer Barry O’Brien stepping into the top job.
Ilene Chaiken was on board Law & Order: Organized Crime from early on in the process, moving forward as the show’s second showrunner after the early departure of Matt Olmstead. Now, Deadline reports that Chaiken is not finishing Season 2 before stepping away, but that EP Barry O’Brien will be the showrunner for the final five episodes that have yet to be filmed. Production is not expected to be affected by Chaiken’s departure. Neither Chaiken nor O’Brien have publicly commented on the change just yet, but Dick Wolf complimented what she brought to the series, saying:
There are no details just yet about why Ilene Chaiken is out at Organized Crime and her co-executive producer has stepped up to fill the role as showrunner. He joined as co-EP back in November. Law & Order: OC had returned for Season 2 in late September; Barry O’Brien has been part of the show as an EP for most of Season 2, although not quite the entire run of episodes so far.
O’Brien is also no stranger to crime TV shows, notably serving as a producer and later executive producer on CSI: Miami from 2005-2012, and producing ABC’s Castle from 2015-2016. More recently, he produced Gone (which starred Law & Order: SVU vet Danny Pino, who returned for the 500th episode) from 2017-2018 and NBC’s Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector in 2020. He wrote for all four of those shows. (He is also credited as co-creator of Hannah Montana, among other TV projects.)
With CSI: Miami as Barry O’Brien’s biggest crime drama credit to his name prior to stepping into the top job at Organized Crime, it raises the question of whether future seasons will feel different, even though the final five of Season 2 are expected to proceed as always planned. CSI: Miami was procedural in a way that Law & Order: Organized Crime is not, as the one L&O entry that is fully serialized.
Of course, the next arc of Season 2 was always going to feel different, regardless of who serves as showrunner. The Richard Wheatley arc will wrap with the next episode on March 2, and Dylan McDermott will head from NBC to CBS to star in FBI: Most Wanted. Stabler and Co. will next deal with drug kingpin Preston Webb, played by Mykelti Williamson. This next arc is also bringing back a franchise veteran to play Webb’s wife. A new cop is on the way as well, played by none other than Denis Leary.
One thing that is all but certain is that Law & Order: Organized Crime won’t be finished at the end of Season 2. Even though the early numbers for the Law & Order revival indicate that it will join SVU in surpassing OC in the ratings, it’s still one of the stronger primetime performers on broadcast television and is one third of NBC’s Thursday night L&O block. See what happens next with episodes filmed with Ilene Chaiken as showrunner on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC in the 2022 TV schedule.
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