ABC has passed on drama pilot New York Undercover, a contemporary sequel-spinoff from original show creator Dick Wolf, Ben Watkins (Hand of God), and director Anthony Hemingway (Underground, American Crime Story). Wolf and Universal TV are expected to shop the project to other networks/streaming services.
Written by Watkins based on a story co-created with Wolf, New York Undercover picks up 20 years after the end of the original series, this time focusing on New York City Fourth Precinct detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city's most dangerous criminals from Harlem to Battery Park. Original series lead Malik Yoba (Empire) returns as Det. J.C. Williams, now supervising the unit as well as the next generation of detectives. Though retired from detective work, Luna Lauren Velez's (Dexter) Nina Moreno still has ties to the unit.
MC Lyte's (Power) Lt. April Freeman is a hard-driving boss with a genius IQ, while Otmara Marrero's (StartUp) Melissa Ortiz is a fiery young detective who blends well undercover and Toby Sandema's (She's Gotta Have It) Nat Gilmore is charismatic with an easy smile and a quick fuse. Anna Enger (Chicago Med) portrays Lisa Kim, an ambitious climber; while Octavio Pizano's (If Loving You Is Wrong) Moses Hernandez is an eager beaver with a hero complex. Joseph "Fat Joe" Cartagena was also on board, set to play villainous gangster Beto.
Having Velez and Yoba as part of the new series was expected go a long way in helping connect fans of the original series to the new series. The influence of the original series was also expected to be key to differentiating the pilot from other shows it might end up competing against: Yoba and co-star Michael DeLorenzo's undercover detectives were the first two people of color to lead a police drama on American television, a series that embraced the diversity of NYC since the beginning.
Wolf, Watkins, and Hemingway executive produced alongside Wolf Films' Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski. Wolf Films, Universal TV, and ABC Studios share production responsibilities.