While many seemingly cannot remember a time when "Law & Order" was NOT on the air, it turns out the show is not TV’s longest running drama series.
Evidently "Law" is TIED with CBS’ old "Gunsmoke" western, which ran from 1955 to 1975, for that honor. (The longest running TV comedy is still on the air: "The Simpsons," as is TV’s longest running show period, "Meet the Press.")
And there’s some drama behind the scenes as to whether "Law" will be renewed for season 21, which would allow it to hold the record all by itself as TV’s longest running drama series, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
With ratings for "Law & Order" far below their peak and given the show’s high costs, the key to renewal may be TNT’s decision whether to pick up any additional "L&O" seasons to air in re-runs, THR reports.
That’s because the syndication licensing fee TNT would pay would help persuade NBC to bring the show back for its 21st season, the Reporter says. But TNT reportedly isn’t obligated to license any additional seasons beyond the show’s current 20th, the trade magazine points out. The Reporter says that NBC and TNT declined to comment.