As relayed to you here over the weekend, both the original Law & Order and Criminal Intent are on the bubble as NBC ponders which shows to bring back for the fall. According to the trades, NBC has begun talks with the producers of the mother ship - whose ratings are down 20 percent versus a year ago - regarding a possible 18th season, provided the license fee paid by the network can be reduced.

Though a sweeter deal could be arrived at were franchise creator Dick Wolf to cut above-the-line costs on the lagging L&Os, perhaps by reducing roles for veteran players, insiders tell Variety that may not suffice, and believe one of two will simply be axed. Via a spokesperson, Wolf tells Variety, "I'm hopeful all three shows will be back."