Lisa de Moraes
Lisa de Moraes
The TV Column

‘Law & Order: SVU’ to return for 14th season, thanks to ratings

HO/REUTERS - Actress Mariska Hargitay, pictured portraying detective Olivia Benson in the NBC series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," received an Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama July 15, 2004.

Dick Wolf’s back, and NBC’s still got him.

NBC has renewed “Law & Order: SVU” for a 14th season because the show averaged nearly 8 million viewers. These days, that’s a good crowd for NBC because “L&O: SVU” is the network’s sixth-most-watched show — behind only Sunday football, “Harry’s Law,” “Smash” and two nights of “The Voice” — and because it averages more 18-to-49-year-olds (who are the currency of NBC’s ad sales) than “Community,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Awake,” “Grimm,” “Are You There, Chelsea?” and “Fashion Star.”

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“L&O:SVU” is so old that it harks back to the day when “Friends” and “Frasier” and “ER” were still part of NBC’s lineup — back when the network was a ratings force to be reckoned with.

NBC also has ordered the new Dick Wolf series “Chicago Fire” — which is about, well, Chicago, and fire, and the men and women who heroically put them out there.

The show stars Jesse Spencer, so it’s a good thing that Fox decided to put “House” out of its misery this month, because he stars in that show, too.

Plus, Wolf already had an order from NBC for a new reality series — called “Stars Earn Stripes” — that he’s producing with “The Voice” exec producer Mark Burnett and “Fear Factor” exec producer David Hurwitz.

In this series, celebrities will engage in elite training at a “secret” military training facility before attempting to complete some real exercises practiced by the five branches of the armed services and joint ops and Special Forces — exercises like staging a hostage rescue. Each week, one celebrity will get whacked. Somehow, it’ s all going to raise cash for charities that support men and women in uniform.

Burnett is quoted as having said that “ ‘Stars Earns Stripes’ is a high-energy, fun action show, but at its heart it is all about these five words: ‘Thank you for your service.’ ”

The renewal and pickup are part of a larger deal that Wolf struck with the Comcast division NBC Universal, where Wolf’s production shingle has been hung since his “Law & Order” franchise was born — only back then, it was Universal TV.

NBC, Fox orders

In addition to the Dick Wolf deals Wednesday, NBC picked up a new comedy from its late-night star Jimmy Fallon called “Guys With Kids.” It’s about a group of guys in their 30s who can’t believe they are dads; hilarity ensues.

Fallon’s new comedy is an old-fashioned, multi-camera affair, with audience and laugh track. That’s unlike the other comedies NBC has picked up: the dysfunctional first-family comedy “1600 Penn”; the gay-couple-having-baby comedy “The New Normal”; the Anne Heche-talks-to-God comedy, “Save Me”; the Matthew Perry-needs-therapy comedy, “Go On”; and the veterinarian-hates-people comedy “Animal Practice.”

NBC wants to be back in that audience-and-a-laugh-track business in a bad way, what with “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men” doing so well for CBS.

Meanwhile, Fox, which also will unveil its new prime-time schedule to advertisers Monday, started ordering comedies Wednesday afternoon:

●“Ned Fox Is My Manny” stars Nat Faxon as a fun slacker guy (with a tightly wound sister) who becomes manny to his niece.

●“It’s Messy” stars “The Office” alum Mindy Kaling as a doctor juggling her personal and professional life.

●“The Goodwin Games” stars Scott Foley and Becki Newton as two of three siblings who are thrown back together when Dad dies.

Fox also ordered a drama starring Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent on the hunt for a serial killer. And Jordana Spiro will star in a new drama as a doctor with mob ties.
Fox also will announce it has ordered a second season of the Kiefer Sutherland drama “Touch.”

Meanwhile, “Alcatraz”? Bye-bye.

NBC’s ‘Voice’ math

Because NBC aired Tuesday’s “The Voice” season finale from 9 to 11 p.m. (instead of 8 to 10 p.m. as originally scheduled) and threw “Fashion Star” under the bus (a.k.a., moved it to 8), NBC suits will be able to get up in front of advertisers Monday morning and proudly note:

The second-season finale of “The Voice” was up nearly 20 percent compared with its first-season finale. And the show hit season highs for NBC in the time period among ad-targeted 18-to-49-year-olds.

Had the finale aired as previously planned, former Alicia Keyes backup singer Jermaine Paul would have been crowned winner of “The Voice” at the same time Melissa Gilbert and Roshon Fegan were getting the hook on “Dancing With the Stars.”

“Dancing” has been pounding “The Voice” in terms of overall audience, although “The Voice” has hung on to its edge among younger viewers.

Pushed one hour later, “The Voice” had one last “Dancing”-free hour in which to name a winner, bagging 12 million viewers — its biggest Tuesday-night showing this season.

Despite the move to 8, “Fashion Star” moved up a tick, week-to-week, in total viewers (4.3 million), though it stumbled slightly among younger viewers.

’Comic,’ ‘Dead’ pickups

AMC has picked up 16-episode second seasons on both “Comic Book Men” and “Talking Dead.”

“Comic Book Men” revels in the fanboy world of Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

“Talking Dead” is the network’s live after-show, in which fanboys and girls navel-lint-pick AMC’s zombie drama, “The Walking Dead.”

“Talking Dead” is also produced by Michael Davies, the guy behind Bravo’s “Real Housewives” after-show-turned-late-night-talk-show, “Watch What Happens Live.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.
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