|Oscar-nominated feature helmer-screenwriter Arthur Penn has signed on as an exec producer of “Law & Order” — one of several behind-the-scenes changes in the works at producer Dick Wolf’s three NBC skeins.|
Penn, whose directing credits include “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Chase” and “Alice’s Restaurant,” will serve as the New York-based exec on “Law,” overseeing casting and production on the Peacock powerhouse.
Joining Penn as Los Angeles-based showrunner and head writer is William Finkelstein, the Emmy-winning scribe/producer (and lawyer) best known for his work on “L.A. Law,” “Civil Wars” and “Brooklyn South.”
Penn and Finkelstein replace long-running “Law & Order” showrunners Rene Balcer and Ed Sherin, who are leaving to work on other projects.
In addition to the changes on “Law,” Wolf has also finalized staffing for the second season of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and the new NBC drama “Deadline.”
At “SVU,” Ted Kotcheff (“North Dallas Forty,” “Fun with Dick and Jane,” “Weekend at Bernie’s”) has locked in for a second season as Gotham-based exec producer.
In addition, former “Wiseguys” exec producer David Burke has been named head writer and L.A. exec producer for the “Law” spinoff. A multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominee, Burke’s credits also include the short-lived but critically hailed skein “Crime Story.”
Burke replaces Robert Palm, who’s moving over to “Deadline” as head writer and exec producer. Palm first worked with Wolf in 1987 as a staff scribe on “Miami Vice,” which Wolf exec produced.
Palm has been paired on “Deadline” with longtime director Michael Ritchie, who will serve as Gotham exec producer of the Oliver Platt hour. Ritchie’s numerous credits as feature film helmer include “The Candidate,” “Semi-Tough” and “Fletch.”
Wolf, who’s made an art of keeping “Law & Order” fresh through frequent cast changes, believes the injection of new behind-the-scenes blood will benefit all three shows.
“It’s strength leading into even greater strength,” he said. “It’s an honor to be working with these people.”
Studios USA topper David Kissinger praised Wolf’s selections as “an extraordinary collection of talent,” which will “safeguard the quality of these shows.”