LOS ANGELES, May 13 (Reuters) - Long-running TV crime series “Law & Order” was reported on Thursday to have been canceled by network NBC after 20 seasons.
But industry sources said talks about renewing the show’s long association with NBC were continuing and no firm decision had been made.
NBC declined to confirm or deny a report on industry website www.deadlinehollywood.com that said the show would not return as part of the network’s 2010-11 line-up starting in September.
The finale of the 20th season is due to be aired on May 24.
Entertainment website E! also reported that the show had been canceled and that the cast and crew were informed on Thursday of its fate.
“Law & Order” is one of U.S. television’s most enduring series and currently ties with 1960s western “Gunsmoke” as the longest-running prime time drama. Both boast a 20-season run.
Animated Fox comedy “The Simpsons,” now in its 21st season, is the longest running TV series in prime time.
Audiences for “Law & Order” have slipped in recent years to around 8 million viewers per episode from more than 18 million in 2002.
NBC, which will present its new slate of programming to advertisers in New York next week, has ordered three new drama series and at least three new comedies for the new season as it seeks to restock its scripted shows after last year’s failed attempt to put comedian Jay Leno on five nights a week in prime time.
NBC is owned by General Electric Co (GE.N) but it is expected to be folded into a $30 billion joint venture with No.1 U.S. cable operator Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) in a deal awaiting U.S. federal government approval.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler