Law & Order Spinoff Starring Christopher Meloni Delayed at NBC as Showrunner Exits

Eric Liebowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty

The Law & Order: SVU spinoff starring Christopher Meloni has been delayed.

Production on Law & Order: Organized Crime — and the return of Meloni’s beloved Elliot Stabler character — continues to take shape, PEOPLE confirms.

Meanwhile, previously announced showrunner Matt Olmstead is exiting the series. He formerly had a four-year run with Wolf Entertainment and inked a three-year overall deal to return to Universal TV, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the delay.

Organized Crime was originally planned to air Thursdays at 10 p.m. this fall —  following Law & Order: SVU — though a premiere date was not announced. THR reports that the show is still slated to air in the 2020-21 broadcast season.

RELATED: Christopher Meloni Confirms Mariska Hargitay Will Appear on Upcoming SVU Spinoff

Meloni was an original cast member when the SVU franchise premiered in September 1999, and his chemistry with costar Mariska Hargitay helped turn the show into an instant hit. After he left in 2011 when contract negotiations broke down, his character was written off the show in the season 12 finale as he retired from the police force.

News of Meloni’s return to the beloved franchise broke in March. The spinoff series, which has received a 13-episode order, will follow Stabler as he returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after suffering a “devastating personal loss” of his own, NBC announced in June.

As Stabler swings into action, he will have to adapt to how much the times have changed since he left the force a decade ago. Fans will get to follow Stabler’s journey to “find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one,” according to NBC.

NBCU Photo Bank Mariska Hargitay and Christoper Meloni in Law & Order: SVU

RELATED: SVU Reunion! Mariska Hargitay Shares Selfie with Christopher Meloni — ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’

Stabler and his new role with the force will be introduced in the season 22 premiere of SVU, reuniting him with his Hargitay, who plays detective Olivia Benson. Meloni has also confirmed that Hargitay will appear on his spinoff.

At the end of July, Meloni said that he had yet to see a script for the spinoff series.

During an appearance on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show, Meloni gave an update on the project, which was in flux amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Is ‘Grateful to Be Back’ as Law & Order: SVU Resumes Filming amid COVID-19

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic production. You know, everything is just insane,” he said. “You get new edicts out of New York City and New York state, and for good reason. And then you get new rules and regulations coming out of Universal, and then from the unions. You have to service a lot of masters right now, just to make sure everybody is safe, right? What’s the new norm for shooting?”

“So that is the long way of saying the writers are breaking rocks, trying to figure out the arc of the story, who the characters are and how they interact, and I have yet to see a script,” he said, jokingly adding, “I’m working on my tan, okay?”

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