With the other networks looking at pilots and straight-to-series orders for the 2014-2015 season, NBC is shifting the conversation in an unexpected direction, ordering a straight-to-series drama for the 2015-2016 season.
 
Yes. That's not this fall, but next season. What makes NBC so confident and forward-looking? Only Jenny From the Block.
 
On Friday (February 21) night, 11:30 p.m. on the East Coast in fact, NBC announced that it has given a 13-episode order to "Shades of Blue," a drama executive produced by and starring Jennifer Lopez.
 
"Shades of Blue" won't even begin production until 2015 and won't premiere until 2015-2016, but NBC is making sure it has the "American Idol" judge locked down.
 
Oh and it isn't just the "American Idol" judge that NBC will be working with. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest will executive produce along with Nina Wass, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina.
 
Created by Adi Hasak, "Shades of Blue" will feature Lopez as Harlee McCord, a single mother and detective recruited by the FBI to work on an anti-corruption task force. The official description explains her complication thusly, "Part of a close-knit unit known for its conviction record, Harlee has become compromised by her colleagues — all of whom also pitch in to help her raise her daughter — and finds herself faced with the moral dilemma of working against her cop brothers in order to redeem herself."
 
Not surprisingly, NBC is excited at landing Lopez.
 
"Whether its producing, acting, singing or any of her other many entrepreneurial activities, Jennifer is an extraordinary talent and life force, and we’re delighted to be in business with her and Adi Hasak on this sophisticated show," blurbs NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke. "We’re especially excited that Jennifer is returning to her acting roots from such great movies as ‘Out of Sight’ and we know that she will create this complicated character in a vivid way that will breathe new life into the cop show genre. Ryan Seacrest is part of the NBCU family and doing his first scripted drama series with us makes perfect sense."
 
Adds Seacrest, "Nina Wass loved the script from the moment she read it. When Elaine, Adi and Benny approached us about working on it, we jumped at the chance to collaborate with such amazing partners. The script is so powerful and ambitious, we can’t wait to see Jennifer take on this remarkable role. Bob Greenblatt and Jen Salke’s enthusiasm and support has been incredible, and we look forward to working with everyone at NBC." 
 
NBC hasn't been shy about going out on a limb to give series commitments to big name talent far ahead of the normal development process, but this makes their year-in-advance pact with Michael J. Fox look almost last-minute. Then again, that was a full 22 episode order, though 22 episodes may not end up airing. 
 
Lopez has actually been really solid as part of the revamped "American Idol" judging panel this spring, rejoining the FOX show after a year away. The former "In Living Color" Fly Girl hasn't done regular TV since "Second Chances," "Hotel Malibu" and "South Central," which all came shortly before her movie career exploded with "Money Train," "Selena," "U Turn" and "Out of Sight."
 
Nuyorican Productions, Lopez's shingle, is behind the current ABC Family success "The Fosters."
 
And it's always good to see that just when you think that networks have found all the new ways to play around with the development process that they can always find new wrinkles. So FOX and CBS and NBC may have already given out a large number of early season orders for seven months from now, we already know at least one show that has a place for 19 months from now. Hopefully we'll all still be here then! Hopefully the TV business will still be here then.
 
Intrigued?