Wednesday, June 19, 2024

TV Exclusive: “Law & Order: SVU” Battling Diminished Ratings, Showrunner May Be Departing


It hasn’t been a great 18th season for “Law & Order SVU.” Ratings are down, and I’m hearing morale is, too.

The latest word is that show runner Rick Eid, who came in this season when Warren Leight left, may be moving to a different Dick Wolf show. Sources say Eid may be heading to “Chicago PD” or “Chicago Fire” when this season ends.

“The cast is hoping Warren’s pilot doesn’t get picked up,” says a source, referring to Leight’s proposed drama about an ER called “Shelter.” “They want him back on SVU.”

A couple of nights ago, Leight was surrounded by “SVU” actors at the Broadway premiere of “Groundhog Day” which stars former cast member Andy Karl.

“SVU” definitely needs Leight’s touch quickly. In his five years as EP the show built a whole new audience and a groundswell of new fans. Ratings were up and averaged 9 million per week. But this season has been rough. The first new episode back in October scored 11 million viewers. The most recent episode, which aired March 29th, was down to 7 million.

Certainly the goal is to get “SVU,” a show with a very fervent following, to its 20th anniversary season. And somehow, whoever’s in charge will have to deal with the famous unaired “Donald Trump” episode in which Gary Cole plays a presidential candidate accused to sexual harassment. So far, NBC has kept the episode titled “Unstoppable” on ice. It was supposed to air last October, was moved a couple of times, and then disappeared.

What do fans want? Chris Meloni back for a story arc as Elliot Stabler, for one. That would make the SVU ratings jump without fail.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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