EXCLUSIVE: The Law & Order franchise has established its own unique production schedule, which involves the series regularly staying in continuous production after the end of the season to bank a few episodes for the following season. The plan this year was to film three additional episodes for veteran crime drama Law & Order: SVU‘s upcoming 16th season, launching in the fall. But, after finishing two of them, the show has decided to scrap the last one due to exhaustion on the part of the cast, particularly star Mariska Hargitay, with the shelved episode to be shot with the rest of Season 16 when the show returns from hiatus. Season 15 is being hailed as one of the series’ strongest, with Emmy winner Hargitay getting notices for her nuanced acting. But it’s been a grueling season, with a lot of emotional performances that has taken a toll on everyone, especially Hargitay, who is the center and the heart of the show and who also made her directorial debut on SVU this past season. Most drama series do 22 episodes a season at the most, Law & Order: SVU produces 24. “In the last 12 months Mariska appeared in 26 episodes, directed one, produced two benefits that raised millions of dollars for her Joyful Heart Foundation, and is also the full-time mother of three young children,” L&O: SVU creator/executive producer Dick Wolf said. “Even a Super Woman needs a break sometime.
After lengthy negotiations, NBC has closed a deal with producer Dick Wolf for a 16th season of crime drama Law & Order: SVU. Star Mariska Hargitay is expected to return. SVU was conspicuously missing from NBC’s list of early renewals in March. The holdup had to do with a pay cut Wolf had been asked to take in order for the show to come back, something he has been unwilling to do. For a little while, things looked like touch and go, with showrunner Warren Leight exploring other jobs, but he recently re-committed to SVU as a deal with NBC began to look imminent. The renewal restores Wolf’s NBC drama series tally to three for a second consecutive season. His Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. already had been renewed.
That is one of the most intriguing questions heading into the upfronts this year. Of Dick Wolf‘s five Law & Order series, only one — first spinoff Law & Order: SVU – is still on the air. But its renewal is being complicated by financial issues. Now in its 15th season, Law & Order: SVU is the longest-running drama series currently on TV. As a high-end drama at that age, it is inherently expensive, leading to periodic budget reviews. Last year, SVU, along with Wolf’s then-freshman Chicago Fire, received early pickups. This year, Chicago Fire and freshman spinoff Chicago P.D. were among the shows to get early renewals by NBC last month, but SVU wasn’t. (All three are produced by NBC sibling Universal TV, where Wolf is based.) I hear the holdup has to do with a pay cut Wolf had been asked to take in order for SVU to come back, something he has been unwilling to do.
Both sides have a point. Wolf’s camp could argue that SVU is having one of its strongest seasons in years, with star Mariska Hargitay getting notices for her nuanced performance. Averaging a 2.5 adults 18-49 rating (most current), SVU ranks as the No. 4 NBC scripted drama this season behind The Blacklist (4.3), Chicago Fire (2.9) and Grimm (2.6). Last night, the show matched its best 18-49 Live+Same Day rating (2.1) since the season premiere, up 21% from last week. SVU also is up double digits vs. last season, by 21% in 18-49 and by 17% in total viewers, and has an off-network deal with USA. Plus, I hear Wolf had taken a pay cut on the show once and is reluctant to do it again.
On the other hand, as solid as they are, SVU‘s numbers still are nowhere near the show’s heyday, prompting the network’s request for cost reduction. Ironically, NBC is in position to hold firm in part because of Wolf’s success with the Chicago Fire franchise. With young series like The Blacklist, Grimm, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. (2.4 in 18-49) doing as well or better than SVU, the network is far less dependent on the veteran than it was just a couple of years ago.
Katie Couric To Play Talk Show Host, Alec Baldwin To Play Controversial Newspaper Columnist On NBC’s ‘Law & Order: SVU’
Alec Baldwin continues to leave public life, in a New York Magazine cover story called “Good-Bye Public Life” and now, in a role on one of the country’s most watched TV series. NBC made it official today that Baldwin will guest star as a controversial New York newspaper columnist, in an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. Word of this guest gig got out earlier this month. But it wasn’t well known that Katie Couric will play herself — a TV show show host, that is — who grills Baldwin, as controversial New York newspaper columnist Jimmy MacArthur about the headline grabbing hate crime/rape case.
NBC wisely waited until Baldwin’s New York Magazine cover story came out and he was once again on the minds of the media to confirm he will play MacArthur, who questions the SVU squad’s motives during the investigation. Icing on the cake: show star Mariska Hargitay is directing — her debut.
“In our story, ‘Jimmy Mac’s’ reporting interferes with the investigation, which has a ripple effect when the case goes to trial,” EP Warren Leight explained in the announcement, adding that the chemistry between Baldwin and Hargitay “is palpable.”
The episode will air Wednesday, March 19.
The debut season of NBC‘s Chicago PD isn’t just going to see characters crossover with parent series Chicago Fire. It will also feature a Chicago-NY crossover with the network’s crime drama juggernaut Law & Order franchise – and that’s just the beginning, exec producer Dick Wolf teased today at TCA. The new police-focused series debuted earlier this month to OK ratings, focusing on Chicago Fire character Detective Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) and a new cast of cops fighting crime in the Windy City. Overlap with Fire began with episode 1. “[David] Eigenberg was there with Pouch the dog,” Wolf noted, adding that storylines between the two Chicago dramas will arc “over a couple of episodes” with some regularity. PD star Sophia Bush revealed that she’s heading to New York this week to film a scene with Law & Order: SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay. Last fall it was reported that a PD/SVU crossover would air in February after the Sochi Olympics in which the New York unit comes to Chicago in pursuit of an interstate perp. “There is going to be a major crossover at the end of the season, a story that is so big it involves everybody,” Wolf teased.
The planned multi-series crossovers could pave the way for more integration within the Chicago Fire/Chicago PD/SVU TV universe.
Longtime Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU cast member Dann Florek filmed his last episode on Friday. After showrunner Warren Leight Tweeted pics from the set on Florek’s last day (see below), Florek also took to Twitter to send off his 18 years on active duty with the L&O franchise. The veteran originated his role as police captain Don Cragen on the first season of the original Law & Order before departing the show after its third season. Creator Dick Wolf brought Florek’s Cragen back for 1998 TV movie Exiled: A Law & Order Movie before installing him as head of a sex crimes unit in NBC’s 1999 spin-off SVU. He now exits that show after 15 consecutive seasons:
It’s Anthony Weiner Week on broadcast TV! Two primetime drama series announced they will air competing Weiner-esque storylines, political scientists have navel-lint gazed in press reports about the phenomenon, and The Reporters Who Cover Television are poised to break the news first, in re which Weiner Week episode played best with viewers in key demographic groups.
Tonight, NBC’s defending champ Law & Order franchise, which wrote the book on headline off-ripping, gets first crack at Weiner’s world. The long-running Law & Order: SVU has done an episode about a guy running for New York mayor who is accused of sending naughty photos online to a 15-year-old female, using the name Enrique Trouble. Too easy? L&O: SVU is defending its title against relative newcomer, ABC’s Scandal. Tomorrow night, that primetime soap sees heroine/POTUS mistress Olivia Pope working with a sexting senator, who may be a murder suspect. Of course, both storylines are far worse than the reality of Weiner’s life, though his life isn’t over yet — only his political one. In real life, Weiner resigned apologetically from Congress when illustrated sexting reports hit the media, after which he launched a bid to become mayor of NYC, which was derailed by more reports of continued sexting — mostly by his funny sexting pseudonym Carlos Danger.
NBC is up with every single one of its series on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights compared to Premiere Week 2012. The network has won seven of nine hours in the demo among broadcasters. In total viewers, it’s won six of the week’s first nine primetime hours and has moved from third place to first — making those Comcast guys look pretty clever for having re-upped NBC programming chief Bob Greenblatt’s contract without waiting for Premiere Week numbers.
Justin Hartley has been tapped to play a major role in the upcoming third season of ABC’s Revenge. The former Smallville and Emily Owens MD star will play Patrick, the long-lost son of Victoria (Madeline Stowe), in a multi-episode arc that was a hot one to nab around town. E! first reported the news. His addition is the latest most on the ABC soapy drama, which recently opted not to return Ashley Madekwe’s character Ashley to the cast for next season. It also said goodbye to Connor Paolo, whose character Declan Porter died in the Season 2 finale. The ABC Studios series also will have a new showrunner in Sunil Nayar, after Revenge creator/executive producer/showrunner Mike Kelley departed. Hartley’s repped by Innovative Artists.
Raul Esparza is being bumped up to series regular on NBC’s Law & Order: SVU. He plays Assistant DA Rafael Barba on the Wolf Films/Univeral Television drama, which returns for its 15th season beginning September 25 and stars shooting next week in New York. Said executive producer Warren Leight: “Making him a series regular is a small way of acknowledging his enormous contribution to our show.” Esparza is repped by ICM Partners and Elin Flack Management.
NBC has handed the expected early renewals to its stronger drama series: freshmen Revolution and Chicago Fire as well as Parenthood, Grimm and veteran Law & Order: SVU. All have received full-season, 22-episode pickups. Missing from the drama list is recent addition Hannibal, which has dropped in the ratings the past two weeks after a solid start, and fellow midseason drama Deception. I hear NBC has not closed the door completely on Deception though a renewal appears unlikely. “On the verge of our 2013 fall scheduling decisions, we’re pleased to renew five drama series that will be important to our new-season lineup,” NBC’s entertainment president Jennifer Salke said. “We’re especially pleased to be renewing Revolution and Chicago Fire — two first-season successes — and there will be more returning series announcements made in the next couple of weeks.” Those announcements will no doubt include reality hit The Voice and veteran comedy Parks And Recreation, which are assured a return for next season. All the other NBC comedies are heavily on the bubble. Things look a little better for The New Normal, which just won a GLAAD Award and comes from top producer Ryan Murphy, with Matthew Perry starrer Go On also in contention. Meanwhile, cult favorite Community‘s future is cloudy, with the future of multi-camera entries Whitney and Guys With Kids also in limbo. NBC might keep one of the multi-cam sitcoms for continuity as it is likely to order at least one, the Sean Hayes/Victor Fresco project, and expanding NBC’s multi-camera footprint appears to be a priority for the network’s brass.
The renewal for Law & Order: SVU comes before the producers have secured the return of star Mariska Hargitay. Today’s announcement gives producer Dick Wolf two series on the NBC schedule next season, L&O: SVU and Chicago Fire. They could be joined by the proposed Chicago Fire spinoff. The renewal brings more good news for Grimm, which recently received a temporary time slot upgrade and The Voice lead-in. Here are details about NBC’s newly renewed dramas:
Dick Wolf Confident Of ‘Chicago Fire’ Renewal, Says Boston Marathon Storyline Would Be Difficult: NBC Press Day
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Chicago Fire creator and exec producer Dick Wolf sounded confident this morning that his freshman firefighter drama would be renewed for a second season, considering that the hour has helped to goose ratings in its Wednesday night time slot 17% this season with adults 18-49. How confident is he? “We even know what the first episode of the third season is,” Wolf admitted at today’s NBC Summer Press Day. “We are definitely looking at the remainder of this season as a jumping-off point for next season.” And in fact, as Deadline has reported extensively, a Chicago Fire spinoff is very much in the works, with the rookie season finale tabbed as the jumping-off point for a series centered in the Chicago Police Department. It too will be from Wolf Films and Universal TV. However, in keeping with his tight-lipped style, Wolf would say only, “We always talk about every possible permutation of what can happen, but we never talk about development.” When asked if it is in fact renewed, might he consider a storyline paying homage to the responders of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing. “Dealing with terrorism is very very tough, that’s all I’m gonna say,” Wolf said, before adding, “The last thing we want to do is exploit a tragedy that is so specific that it would be difficult.”
NBC‘s Law & Order franchise warns onscreen that the story it’s about to tell “is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event”, but it’s known for plotlines that are taken straight from news headlines of the day. Wednesday’s Law & Order: SVU episode is titled “Legitimate Rape”, a reference to controversial remarks made last year by former Rep. Todd Akin. A promo for the episode begins “ripped from the headlines — words that set off a national controversy”. It features a man in a suit and tie with a flag lapel pin who appears as a court witness saying “It’s nearly impossible for a victim of legitimate rape to become pregnant”. Akin created a firestorm when he stated during his 2012 Senate race that women who are victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant. The comment followed with widespread calls for him to withdraw from the campaign. He apologized but remained in the race, eventually losing to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the general election. The upcoming Law & Order: SVU episode caught McCaskill’s attention, Politico reports, who tweeted in response: Now this is surreal. Law & Order: SVU recently tackled the subject of domestic abuse in another “ripped from the headlines” episode titled “Funny Valentine” that was based on the relationship of Chris Brown and Rihanna.
Dick Wolf, creator of the Law & Order franchise, has weighed in on the controversial upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU, which guest stars former boxer Mike Tyson in his first acting gig playing someone other than himself. Tyson’s casting has come under attack from advocate groups protesting the involvement of a convicted rapist (Tyson served three years for a 1991 incident involving a Miss Black America pageant contestant) on a show dedicated to sex crime victims.
In the SVU episode, titled Monster’s Legacy, Tyson plays Reggie Rhodes, a murderer on death row whose violent actions may in part be the byproduct of sexual abuse as a child. His case attracts the attention of Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and defense attorney Bayard Ellis (Andre Braugher) during an SVU investigation. Also guest starring in the episode is Ed Asner. “It focuses on what can happen when there is an emotionally charged rush to judgment and it is, in my opinion, one of our strongest episodes in the last five years,” Wolf said in a note accompanying screeners for Monster’s Legacy. Originally scheduled for Feb. 13, the episode has been moved up to Feb. 6, sparking speculation that the shift may have been made so that the Mike Tyson episode does not air on the eve of One Billion Rising, a global event supporting rape and abuse survivors.
Ever since we broke the news of former boxer Mike Tyson‘s guest stint on NBC’s veteran crime drama Law & Order: SVU, the casting has become a lighting rod for controversy as it involves Tyson, who was convicted of rape 20 years ago, appearing on a show about getting justice for sex crime victims. NBC has now moved up the episode, originally scheduled for February 13, to February 6. According to the Washington Post, the move was made so that the Mike Tyson episode does not air on the eve of One Billion Rising, a global event supporting rape and abuse survivors. It follows weeks of pressure from advocate groups who have protested the casting, including launching a petition asking NBC to recast the role. In a recent TV Guide interview, Tyson, who continues to profess his innocence in the 1991 incident involving a Miss Black America pageant contestant for which he served 3 years, defended his gig. “I’m just trying to feed my family,” he said. “I’m clean and sober five years, I haven’t broken any laws or did any crimes. I’m just trying to live my life.”