Move from NBC to USA hardly `Criminal'

October 08, 2007|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

When the cast and crew of Law & Order: Criminal Intent found out last spring that their show was being moved from NBC over to its sister cable network USA, the initial reaction was relief that the drama hadn't been canceled - followed quickly by wariness about the change.

But these days, the team behind the third installment in the Law & Order franchise talks about its new home with an optimism long missing from the set of the crime procedural, now entering its seventh season.

"`Reinvigorated' is a good word," said Warren Leight, the executive producer. "Last year was awkward because NBC was going through a lot of changes, and we were not a priority, it's fair to say."

The move to USA, he said, is "like getting adopted by a really rich family."

After experiencing what Leight called "benign neglect" at NBC, USA has showered the program with attention, including a large-scale promotional campaign advertising Criminal Intent's debut last week.

Executives at NBC rejected the notion that they gave the series inadequate support. After episodes premiere on USA, NBC plans to air reruns of Criminal Intent.

"NBC has always considered Criminal Intent an important part of our schedule for many years, and we hope that it's a big hit on USA," said Marc Graboff, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. "By definition, you have to prioritize when you're a broadcast network in a way that cable networks don't."

The move to USA is the latest twist for the youngest of the surviving Law & Order shows, which explores the psychology of criminals, often letting the viewers in on the motives of suspects before the show's Major Case Squad detectives discover them.

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