After 11 years of presenting the “dedicated detectives” who investigate “especially heinous” offenses, showrunner Neal Baer is set to leave ‘Law & Order: SVU‘ for the competition.
Baer signed a three-year development and production deal with CBS Television Studios that takes effect June 1, 2011, Variety reports. Baer will leave ‘SVU’ at the end of the current 12th season.
“After more than a decade on ‘SVU’ I felt it was time to take a breath and say ‘What’s next? And those people who were there for me at the very beginning said ‘We’re next,’” Baer told the trade.
Baer was formerly a pediatrician and got his start on NBC’s ‘ER,’ which was produced by Warner Bros. when current CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler and CBS TV Studios president David Stapf were executives there.
Stapf said they wanted Baer for years. “He’s one of the preeminent showrunners with a style that particularly fits with what we strive to do,” Stapf said. “We feel like we know him incredibly well and we can’t wait to get started.”
Baer said the decision to leave longtime coworkers like stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni and the crew was not an easy one.
“I’ve loved every moment of ‘SVU’, and I am deeply grateful to Dick Wolf for giving me the opportunity to work on a show of such depth and profundity,” Baer said.
‘Law & Order: SVU’ has historically been the highest rated of the brand’s shows. It was third in its Wednesday timeslot last week with 7.63 million viewers and fourth in ratings with 2.1/6, according to Nielsen Media Research. Currently airing at 9 p.m., it will move to 10 p.m. on January 12 as part of an NBC schedule shake-up.