Ex-Law & Order Producer 
Back On Case
June 18, 2002

After several years working on other series, Emmy-winning writer and producer Walon Green is returning to NBC's Law & Order and its creator, Dick Wolf.

Green will serve as a consultant on L&O and Dragnet, which Wolf's company, Wolf Films, is producing for ABC as a midseason show. Green was an executive producer of Law & Order in 1993 and '94.

"[Green's] career and reputation have marked him as one of the preeminent writers of world-class television and movies," Wolf tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's truly an honor that he has decided to return to Wolf Films." 

Green and Wolf have known each other for two decades, since they worked together on Hill Street Blues. After leaving L&O in 1994, Green worked as a writer on Millennium a co-executive producer on NYPD Blue and ER

He shared Blue's Emmy win for best drama in 1995. He's also earned Emmy nominations for writing on both Blue' and Law & Order.

Wolf Weighs In On CSI Franchise
July 23, 2002

This time last year, those who cover television were puzzling over whether or not audiences would embrace or reject yet another Law & Order show. Ultimately, it turned out that there was not just an appetite for the third variation of producer Dick Wolf's successful franchise, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but interest in a reality-based version as well, this summer's Crime & Punishment.

So, if anyone should know if CBS' favorite child, Jerry Bruckheimer, is going to hit a home run with the second installment of his own smash hit forensic science drama, CSI: Miami, it would be Wolf.

"You know, I wish Jerry would stay in the film business," Wolf jokes, before saying that while he thinks CSI has picked up some pointers from Law & Order the comparison between the two is not an apt one. 
"I've used the Campbell's soup simile before. That if you want tomato or chicken noodle, they're all going to be good if they've got that red label on it," the producer says, comparing his four programs to artist Andy Warhol's favorite piece of branding. "The audience is expecting a certain level of quality writing and production value, which we've been able to supply." 

Wolf does call the casting of CSI: Miami's Kim Delaney and David Caruso "a real stroke of genius." However, while he considers all of his shows to have a distinctive voice from each other, he points out that it appears that the creative teams involved with CSI could just re-use the same scripts and stories. 

"It's not quite the same methodology, which is creating a brand as opposed to duplicating the show, which will work." 

Law & Order Still Has Lock On Fans After 12 Seasons
Original series remains strong. Fourth show also possible, but idea secret
by R.D. Heldenfels
The Beacon Journal
July 27, 2002

Law & Order maestro Dick Wolf knows how to play the press. If there's a controversy somewhere in TV, he'll be ready to jump on it. If there isn't, he may create one. He knows reporters and columnists need material, and he's happy to provide it, usually with a rising voice and outraged tone.

Until now.

Appearing before reporters at a news conference Tuesday, Wolf actually ducked a chance to stir things up. Asked if NBC should put Law & Order: Criminal Intent in a 10 p.m. slot (it's at 9 p.m. Sundays), he replied, "No comment."

And when asked if there were anything he was unhappy about, he said, "No, I'm a very happy guy." One reason was that, as he sat onstage, Wolf had beside him executive producers of the four shows he has on NBC: Law & Order; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; and Crime & Punishment, a summer documentary series called "a real-life version of Law & Order."

Wolf says a fourth L&O is also possible, though he's not saying what the idea for it is. And, for ABC, he's working on a new version of Dragnet to premiere in January. "The DNA of Dragnet is in Law & Order, and the DNA of the new Dragnet will have Law & Order's DNA in there, too," Wolf said.

The centerpiece of Wolf's work and reputation is the sprawl of Law & Order. Counting the various replays on cable, Wolf said he had learned that "every week during May, 95.8 million people... saw one of the versions of the show. Which staggered me."

Even the original series remains strong, he said. "Law & Order is the only scripted series in the history of television to have its highest ratings in its 12th season," he said.

Just staying on for 12 seasons is something most shows don't manage. But through consistent storytelling, and subtle differences in tone from one show to the next, the three Law & Orders remain at once fresh and familiar to viewers.

Still, it can be tricky coming up with stories for all three shows, said Law & Order executive producer Michael Chernuchin.

All are set in New York City and draw on the same sources for cases, Chernuchin said. The original show does not have an advantage, he said, because "we want to spread the popularity of the other shows."
"Anything sexual now goes to SVU," he said. "Kids go to SVU, and I think elderly people go to SVU. Rene (Balcer, executive producer of Criminal Intent) and I fight it out for stories. If there's a story that lends itself to a back half, to a legal question, that comes to Law & Order."

And they do so even through changes, including some in the coming season. (Law & Order starts new episodes on Oct. 2, SVU on Sept. 27 and Criminal Intent on Sept. 29.)

Dianne Wiest, who played district attorney Nora Lewin on the original Law & Order, has left the series and a replacement has yet to be cast.

Drawing again on famous cases for inspiration, Law & Order this season will include variations on the John Walker Lindh case and on "the CEOs walking away with billions while their investors walk away with nothing," said Chernuchin.

"We're going to have some gritty stories this year, because I like writing those," he said. "The perfect Law & Order for me is one where our guys win at the end, and feel bad about it, or lose and feel good about it. I don't want anything cut and dried.... This year, all the characters are going to have a different opinion about everything."

The newest show in the franchise, Criminal Intent, will continue to be a Sherlock Holmes-like mystery, with Vincent D'Onofrio as its Holmes, police Detective Robert Goren.

In the show's second season, Goren will get his own Moriarty, "a very attractive young woman who will be recurring, hopefully, over the next few seasons," Balcer said. She will be played by Olivia D'Abo.

He also hopes viewers will get to know more about the supporting regulars, including police Capt. James Deakins (Jamey Sheridan) and District Attorney Ron Carver (Courtney B. Vance).

"What's fun about them is building in conflicts, especially between Courtney and Vince," Balcer said.

As for plot lines, Balcer said, "We have a story taking off on the Georgia crematoria story that was in the news last May, with a very unusual twist. And one script deals with a boy genius."

At Special Victims Unit, which has already finished six episodes, B.D. Wong returns as forensic psychiatrist George Huang, now a series regular, and Judith Light will reprise her role as the district-attorney boss of Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March).

"We have guest stars," said SVU executive producer Neal Baer, among them old-time movie star Jane Powell in a story about abuse of the elderly, and Pam Grier as an assistant U.S. attorney locking horns with Detective Elliott Stabler (Chris Meloni).

Even though the shows go in different directions, they all have that Law & Order in their names. And that creates opportunities they might not have otherwise.

"The hardest thing on TV is launching a show, and getting people to tune in," Balcer said. "The fact that Law & Order's name is on the show probably saved NBC several millions of dollars in advertising. Where a show like Alias is probably paying, I don't know, $10 for every pair of eyeballs that's tuned in, NBC only has to pay 10 cents.

"It's an advantage," he said. "But over the years, all of these franchises establish their own identities. You could just call it Special Victims Unit or Criminal Intent, and the shows will do quite well."

The Happy Family Of TV Crime
By Hal Boedeker
The Orlando Sentinel
July 26, 2002

Dick Wolf knows who's responsible for the TV crime wave headed your way this fall: Dick Wolf.

The creator of NBC's Law & Order rattles off stats about his franchise, which has yielded Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent and the summer reality series Crime & Punishment.

"Every week during May, 95.8 million people -- unduplicated viewers -- saw one of the versions of the show, which staggered me," Wolf says. He brags that Law & Order is "the only scripted series in the history of television to have its highest ratings in its 12th season."

Envious programmers are determined to duplicate his success. In the fall, CBS will introduce four crime-related series, including a CSI spinoff set in Miami. Fox will go a glossy route with Fastlane, a sleek, violent series aimed at young adults. NBC will offer Boomtown, a stylish, Los Angeles-based drama, after Criminal Intent on Sundays. And Wolf will do an updated Dragnet for ABC at midseason.

Wolf takes credit for the trend because of Law & Order. "That's the franchise that's working," he says. "Every really successful show invites repetition, but usually the original is still the greatest."

NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker agrees "the tremendous glut" of cop shows can be traced to Law & Order -- and adds that there are drawbacks because of it.

"One of the biggest problems this fall is going to be the promotion of these crime dramas," he says. "It adds a sameness to network television that's a shame. We always hurt each other when we do the same thing."

CBS President Les Moonves says he studied the Law & Order model in expanding CSI, currently the highest-rated drama. The network will examine the ratings for CSI: Miami, the first spinoff, before deciding whether to do more.

Wolf finds differences between the L&O and CSI styles. "CSI, from what I can see, is kind of like you could almost re-use the scripts in Miami," he says. "It's not quite the same methodology, which is creating a brand as opposed to duplicating the show."

The CSI producers maintain that their Miami series will be quite different from the original. They say the Miami characters will be more extroverted and have more conflicts. The Las Vegas-set CSI is a night show while CSI: Miami will be a day show filled with color and ocean.

Still, CSI has a long way to go to match the Wolf brand, one he compares to Campbell's soup. "If you want tomato or chicken noodle, they're all going to be good if they've got that red label on it," he says. From the L&O brand, viewers expect "a certain level of quality writing and production value, which we've been able to supply."

The various Law & Order soups will have different flavors this fall. Oscar winner Dianne Wiest is leaving Law & Order, and her character will be replaced by a conservative district attorney, executive producer Michael Chernuchin says.

"We're doing a lot of the after-effects of 9-11 -- nothing to do with the actual terrorism, but the way the world has changed since then," Chernuchin says. "There's more of a law-and-order attitude around the country right now. The Fourth Amendment is dwindling a bit."

On Special Victims Unit, Broadway actor B.D. Wong becomes a regular, and Judith Light returns as the SVU bureau chief. Mary Kay Place and Jane Powell act in an episode about elder abuse. Pam Grier plays an assistant U.S. attorney. Sharon Lawrence portrays a serial killer.

Criminal Intent will do headline-inspired episodes on a boy genius and a notorious crematoria. The show also brings on a recurring villain who will function like a Professor Moriarty to the Sherlock Holmes of Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio). Criminal Intent is more of a star vehicle than the other series, Wolf says, because it gives D'Onofrio a career-defining role like Peter Falk's Columbo.

Setting any Law & Order series outside New York is unthinkable for Wolf. "It is kind of Dickens' London that those characters can all interact," he says. "It's pretty hard if one cast is in Chicago."

Wolf has an idea for what the next Law & Order could be, but he's not sharing it. "The whole secret of the success of the shows [is] the writers," he says. "Once the writing goes, the shows are over."

Law & Order Perfect for NYC Actors
Associated Press
By Fraizer Moore
August 27, 2002

If you're a fan, you see Law & Order as a complex crime drama whose weekly path to justice takes lots of twists - with lots of people to investigate along the way. 

If you're the casting director, you see it as an appetite that's never satisfied; more than three dozen speaking roles must be cast per episode, some 700 in a season. 

And if you're a New York-based actor, you see this enduring NBC drama (and its newer siblings Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent) as a valued local job bank always full of great parts. 

That goes whether you're a struggling beginner or a familiar Broadway presence such as Patti LuPone, Philip Bosco, George Hearn or Frances Sternhagen. (In its first dozen years, more than 150 Tony Award nominees appeared on Law & Order.) 

There's only one problem. 

"They are extremely particular about getting exactly the right person for each role," reports Patrick Quinn. "After I had auditioned a few times and hadn't gotten a part, I started worrying that I would be the only New York actor who didn't make it on Law & Order." 

Then he did - twice (so far). He played the father of a boy whose Web site may have led to a murder, and before that, on Special Victims Unit, the lawyer of a woman murdered at a bachelorette party. 

Quinn is primarily a stage actor whose Broadway appearances include the 1990s revival of the musical Damn Yankees.

He is also the president of Actors' Equity Association, the stage actors' union, with 15,000 members in the New York area alone. 

"Not all of us can work on Broadway at any one time," says Quinn, "so the Law & Order trilogy can be a great way to supplement your income as well as your artistry. 

"Friends and family can't always get to New York to see your work," he adds. "But they can always see Law & Order." 

With most TV series filmed in Los Angeles (and others, increasingly, heading to Canada), New York and New Jersey currently host the Law & Order trilogy, Ed and Third Watch, along with HBO's Sex and the City
and The Sopranos.

Back in fall 1990, when Law & Order started up, The Cosby Show - closeted in a Queens sound stage - was the only other network prime-time series produced in New York. 

Law & Order showcased the city with dozens of on-location scenes in each episode. And casting director Suzanne Ryan has served the equivalent duty of
showcasing the human face of New York, filling every speaking role in each of the 280-and-counting Law & Order scripts. 

From the moment she is handed a script, Ryan has just eight days to identify and deliver the right actors. On the ninth day, filming begins - and she gets the next script. Meanwhile, her counterparts at Special Victims Unit (Julie Tucker) and Criminal Intent (Gayle Keller) are engaged in a similar pursuit.

While Los Angeles-based actors are occasionally cast as guest stars, cost and logistical considerations discourage it. 

"Besides, there are so many talented people here," says Ryan, who is up for an Emmy this year for Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series. "It's wonderful that we're able to provide them an opportunity for work." 

The series itself received a record-tying 11th best-series nomination. (Emmys are to be awarded in September.) 

The Law & Order trilogy has provided meaty roles for husband-and-wife actors Jay O. Sanders and Maryann Plunkett. 

Plunkett, a Tony-winning stage actress, had her third guest shot on Law & Order in February, in an episode based loosely on the Gary Condit story. Plunkett played the scorned wife of a state senator whose intern turns up

The Law & Order set is "very New York and familiar, with people I know," says Plunkett. "I tend to be shy, but I always feel comfortable walking into that environment." 

Sanders, who has appeared in JFK, Along Came a Spider and the recent ABC miniseries Widows, enjoyed a fringe benefit when he appeared on a Law & Order episode three years ago: proximity. He traveled less than a mile from his Greenwich Village apartment to the series' Chelsea headquarters. 

For one key location scene in the episode - in which he played a maniacal family man suspected of pushing someone in front of a subway train - Sanders reported to a subway station just a few blocks from home. 

Sanders will appear on Law & Order Criminal Intent this fall as "a nice-guy hit man," he says. 

In his free time, he, like many other New Yorkers in his line of work, enjoys watching the trio of home-town dramas - for a personal reason. 

"It's a favorite sport to watch any episode from any year," he explains. "You spot your friends."

A&E: Bye-bye, Law & Order
Broadcasting & Cable
By Allison Romano
August 30, 2002

Parting really will be sweet sorrow for A&E Network, which is about to lose its prized acquired drama, Law & Order. As of Labor Day, Turner Network Television becomes the exclusive cable home for the hit NBC drama.

TNT and A&E have been sharing Law & Order since last summer, airing different seasons at different times. It's been a ratings workhorse for both, regularly popping averages above 1.5. 

Under a 10-year deal, TNT is paying about $800,000 for the most recent episodes and $250,000 for shows A&E has already played. Beginning Sept. 2, TNT will air Law & Order weekdays at noon and 7 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays.

The show has been a tremendous bargain for A&E,  which has paid just $155,000 per episode since September 1994. 

Now, A&E will lean on another NBC drama, Third Watch, paying about $700,000 per episode for the show's three seasons. Third Watch debuts on A&E Sept. 1, airing weeknights at 11 p.m. EST. 

Real Cops On TV Copyright Beat
By Bridget Byrne
The New York Post
August 5, 2002

Fearing increasingly negative portrayals on TV, the nation's two largest police forces--both plagued by recent real-life scandals--are appealing to Hollywood to play nice or pay up when it comes to depicting cops. "We're concerned about the marketing of our logo, what people do with it, and what it indicates," Detective Walter Burns, an NYPD spokesman, tells the New York Post. "If they do [use it] they either enter into an agreement and, if they don't, we sue." Although there are no new cop series shooting in New York this fall, Burns says in the past, shows used official NYPD logos without any agreement or fee, but that won't be allowed on future shows, which will demand royalties negotiated by and paid to the nonprofit Police Foundation. 

According to a spokesman for Steven Bochco's NYPD Blue (which films some stock footage exteriors in New York, but mainly shoots on the Fox studio lot in Los Angeles), the long-running ABC series has an agreement with the NYPD but does not pay a royalty fee. The show is set in the Big Apple's fictional 15th Precinct. Dick Wolf, producer of the three NBC Law & Order series, which do shoot in New York, says he has "personal relationships" with the past four NYPD commissioners, but declined to elaborate. "The NYPD has been nothing but supportive and helpful during 15 consecutive years of shooting on thestreets of New York," Wolf adds in a written statement. Wolf is also producing ABC's updated Dragnet, which once personified the stick-to-the-rules good cop LAPD. (The show is slated for a midseason run.) It was Los Angeles officials that began the royalty talk last week. While shows like Dragnet, Adam-12 and S.W.A.T. used to serve practically as commercials for the LAPD, Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo seemed concerned about the tone of forthcoming shows, such as CBS' Robbery Homicide Division and NBC's Boomtown. He was quoted in the Los AngelesTimes saying the city had that in the past the city had "basically been lazy about its intellectual property." 

Adds Los Angeles Police Commander Gary Brennan: "We are trying to find that reasonable place between creativity and representation of the LAPD in such a way that it does not damage our image and reputation." Fox's new hit series The Shield, starring Michael Chiklis, is described as "focusing on a group of corrupt but effective cops." The Emmy-nominated show was originally called Rampart, but the producers changed the title following a request from the LAPD, plagued by the corruption scandal in that division of the city. Delgadillo, who insists he doesn't want any creative control over TV series, says discussions with NBC over license fees were more "adversarial" than those with CBS. Originally called RHD/LA, CBS' Robbery Homicide Division is produced by Michael Mann and Tom Sizemore as a veteran detective in, what the Eye network says, is "the most exciting urban landscape in America." NBC's Boomtown, set to air this falls on Sundays at 10 p.m., is described as depicting "the city's imperfect and unsung heroes, all of who have their own agenda." It tells crime stories from various viewpoints, the cops, the criminals, the victims, the onlookers. Executive producer and writer Graham Yost recently told a gathering of television critics, "We will mention Rampart, and sure Rodney King will be mentioned and, you know, the last 10 years. We're not going to pretend it didn't exist. But at the same time, we'll also be creating our own things, so we've got our own police-corruption history. We call it Vista Heights because it's the only name that would clear." Clearance issues may also affect the show's production. Marc Graboff, executive vice president of West Coast for NBC tells the Times, "We really want to be able to shoot in L.A., but this makes it difficult...This kind of behavior will drive shows out of L.A." We just wonder what Canadian officials will say when networks start shooting shows about corrupt Mounties in Toronto and Vancouver. 

StopThe Presses:
Ask A L&O Actor A Question For DVD Commentary
An email arrived in the L&O boxes just as this issue was about to go live: Until October 3, if you want to submit a question to hopefully be answered by some of the cast of L&O on the Season Two DVD Cast Commentary, head over to


So hurry and get your questions in now!

Senator To Seek Justice on Law & Order
By Steve Gorman
August 27, 2002

It's official. Retiring Republican Senator Fred Thompson is returning to acting this fall, playing a conservative district attorney on NBC's long-running series Law & Order, producers said on Tuesday. 

Thompson, 60, who announced earlier this year that he will leave the Senate when his term expires in January, will become the first member of Congress to appear as a TV show regular while still in office. 

The 13th season of Law & Order, currently the longest- running show on TV, premieres Oct. 2, with Thompson joining the cast as the newly elected New York City district attorney. 

Thompson's character replaces interim D.A. Nora Lewin, played for two seasons by Dianne Wiest, who will not return to the show. She took over for Steven Hill, who had portrayed D.A. Adam Schiff since the series debut in 1990 and was the last original cast member to leave the

The election of Thompson's character is "definitely a reaction to 9/11," said Michael Chernuchin, an executive producer of the series. "His political leanings are a little more to the right than former D.A.s on the show. He is a 'strict constructionist.' That is, for him, the Constitution is what it says and it is nothing more." 

Thompson also will appear occasionally on two spin-off series, Law & Order Special Victims Unit and Law & Order Criminal Intent, according to Universal Television, a unit of Vivendi Universal. 

The ripped-from-the-headlines drama about New York City police detectives and prosecutors ranked last season as the fifth-highest rated series on U.S. television. The show, from veteran producer Dick Wolf, has garnered a record 11 straight Emmy nominations as best drama series, winning the coveted award in 1997. 

Thompson, who once said life in Washington made him "long for the sincerity and realism of Hollywood,"  announced in March he would not seek re-election this year because he "simply did not have the heart for another six-year term." 

The Tennessee Republican, who previously served as a federal prosecutor and Senate Watergate counsel, won a special election to a two-year Senate term in 1994. He won a full six-year term in 1996. 

Before his Senate career, Thompson appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, including In the Line of Fire, Die Hard 2 and The Hunt for Red

Several lawmakers on Capitol Hill found fame on  elevision before serving in Congress, including the late Sonny Bono, Fred Grandy, who played Gopher on
The Love Boat, and Ben Jones, who was Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard. And many incumbent politicians have made guest appearances on TV shows over the years.

Bright Lights, Big's City
The Star
By Rita Zekas
September 29, 2002

"HEY, I know you," Chris Noth said in the Citytv interview room. "Didn't you interview me for The Judge?"

"No," Star Gazing replied, "we actually had drinks together at Joso's."

"That's right," he recalled, "you're the friend of Lolita's," as in Lolita Davidovich, his co-star in The Judge.

Full disclosure. Star Gazing and an accomplice stalked Noth, who plays Mr. Big on Sex And The City. Mr. Big is tall, dark, handsome, wealthy, powerful and careless with women. We planted ourselves at a table beside his at Joso's and unabashedly gawked. We are Sex addicts and Big fans.

He was charming and completely unself-absorbed. It was a bitterly cold evening and when he pulled off his toque, he had serious hat head. But he didn't primp. He sat there with hair bent out of shape all evening.

Noth even consented to having a photo taken with us - but only after we promised it would not be published. We said nothing about having it framed and displayed prominently at our primary work stations.

And the photo op escalated into a fan frenzy. Noth was swarmed by the adjacent table full of women engaged in a bridal stagette.

Next night, same situation, different venue. We just happened (no stalking involved) to be at a birthday party at Bistro 990 when Noth walked in for a late dinner with Judge castmates and an orgy of adulation broke loose. One trophy wife, buoyed up by way too much champagne, unbuttoned her blouse and flashed Noth's table.

Noth thanked the women for their enthusiasm, signed autographs - but not body parts - and begged off to continue his dinner.

And those were but two nights in his life. Noth, which rhymes with "both," not "moth," is bemused by all the rabid attention his Sex character inspires. Hell, Star Gazing could have scalped tickets to the interview. Noth is drop-dead gorgeous, even with a new moustache he's trying out. 

"They call me 'Mr. Big' on the street," he allowed. "Luckily John Corbett (who plays Carrie's/Sarah Jessica Parker's rejected fiancé Aidan) came on the show, and he took up a lot of the slack."

Yeah, but when Big behaves cad-ly, then flashes that bad-boy grin, Carrie's resolve teeters like her stilettos.

"I'll do it at the bar," he grinned disingenuously, "and see if it works." (He's co-owner of the CuttingRoom, a New York club featuring acoustic rock music.)

As if he's never tried it on before.

"There is something strange and odd (about all the attention); I'm surprised about the intense reaction. I read the New York Times and people are so concerned about Big and Carrie - where's the protest movement about the (proposed) war in Iraq? We're over-saturated with entertainment.

"I just like to know people are laughing and can laugh, especially about sex, which is a very serious issue. To me the show's greatest asset is its sense of charmed ridiculousness of human beings, of men and women as they try to work things out. What's tragic on screen to the characters is hilariously funny to watch."

Big and Carrie are still on their approach/avoidance romantic collision course. In the fifth season, which is telecast midnight on Friday on Bravo! and repeated Saturday at 11 p.m., Noth appears in only one episode, the second last. Why only one, and what took him so long?

"This season was shortened because of Sarah Jessica's pregnancy, and they didn't want to put me on the show just to put me on the show - it has to be organic. I don't want to be in every episode; there has to be a good reason. In the episode, Carrie visits me in San Francisco, and it's one of my favourites."

Ours is the one where Carrie and Big dance to "Moon River," right before he runs away to Napa.

"He was not running away," Noth said defensively. "It's life, life brought him there. All of us have a wanting to go far, far away. Mine's many places. It used to be Indonesia, but now there is too much tourism."

Noth wouldn't be surprised if season six is the series' last - "it feels like it could be" - and don't expect to learn his name. "We'll never find out Big's name," he insisted. "I don't care what Sting's name is."

Probably just as well. What a letdown when we found out Kramer's first name was Cosmo.

"Big's not some suave guy who poses and has cute one-liners, and he's not a totally obnoxious, unlikeable guy like a lot of rich people. I think Carrie named him Mr. Big because he's the big love of her life."

Noth got involved with the series because he was seduced by the script.

"My agent gave me the script, and I was intrigued by the character," he recalled. "When Carrie asks me if I've ever been in love and I say "Absaf------lutely, what a great reply. I wanted to see where it goes; it was so funny and daring. After five years on Law & Order (on which he played Mike Logan, from 1990 to 1995), this was for me a great character leap and a challenging actor choice."

In fact, women know Noth from Sex; men from Law & Order.

Noth was in town early this week to appear in Harry Rosen's Luxury By Design fundraiser for prostate cancer, in which 14 celebs selected a chair, which was then produced in men's suiting fabric. His was done by Ermenegildo Zegna in a sport coat fabric in blue plaid wool. It was not Noth's sartorial choice; he would have preferred something darker. Could you see Big in blue plaid?

Noth lives in Manhattan, was born on Nov 13, 1954, in Madison, Wisc., and raised in Connecticut, youngest of three boys. His mother, Jeanne, is a former CBS TV news reporter.

He described his recent stint on Broadway in the Gore Vidal play The Best Man, as "like coming home again." Indeed, Noth is a graduate of Yale Drama School, where he studied with Sanford Meisner and appeared in over 25 productions including the title role of a production of Hamlet directed by Zoe Caldwell. He made his film debut in 1982 in Smithereens playing a transvestite prostitute.

He dodged questions about Carrie and Big getting back together.

"Those you love the most are the ones who can't get it together. These are two people who drive each other crazy but have to be around each other. And even when they aren't together, they're still feeling the vibe."

As to their biggest impediment: "Big's inability to open up 100 per cent to the demands she requires for intimacy. He needs a room to go to that doesn't include her. At his age, he's got the freedom to walk away. He's an older, established man who has been through it, married and divorced and doesn't require his emotional survival to be contingent on the kind of commitment she does. That said, they are great together; their minds mesh. They are an old-fashioned couple in the old way, the old school - the old New York that is disappearing fast."

If things go on the way they have in the past two seasons, they're going to have to rename it No Sex In The City. Even Samantha is complaining about lack of action, and there has been critical grumbling that the series is becoming too serious.

"It doesn't have to be light all the time," Noth contended. "People eventually have to let go and move on. The show moves on. Law & Order I find no longer interesting because it doesn't go to different places."

In addition to Sex, Noth will appear as General Pompey in the miniseries Caesar ("I enjoyed wearing a toga") and in the indie film Searching For Paradise, in which he plays an actor pursued by an obsessed fan.

Something to which he can relate. 

Sneak Peek At Senator Thompson
In New Gig
June 18, 2002

Viewers of NBC's Meet The Press got a sneak peak of retiring Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., in his new role as a conservative district attorney in the peacock network's Law & Order series. Host Tim Russert aired a clip of Thompson, as DA Arthur Branch, seated behind his desk discussing a case.

"With all the money we spend on the so-called war on drugs, we could buy all the poppy fields in the world and burn them to a crisp," Thompson's character said. "But do we do it? No. And why? Because without a war on  something, people in Washington wouldn't get elected." 

And what's the difference between politics and acting, Russert asked. "The pay," Thompson replied. "I've always thought there was an affinity between Washington and Hollywood because neither really understood what the other did, and I'm still convinced of that." In March Thompson announced he was retiring, and last month NBC disclosed he was joining the cast of Law &

apocrypha addendum: Buzz behind the scenes has cast and crew concerned about Thompsons's personal politics, but not his acting abilities.

L&O Back On The Case For 13th Year
By Avis Weathersbee
The Chicago Sun-Times
September 29, 2002
'L&O' back on the case for 13th year 
September 29, 2002

Does learning that Jill Hennessy's twin sister sat in for her during the first Law & Order crossover episode with Homicide: Life on the Street increase your pulse rate ever so slightly?

If the answer is yes, you may just be a Law & Order addict.

And you are not alone.

You, like myself, are among millions beckoned weekly--and until recently, daily in reruns--to the longest running primetime drama currently airing on network television. A show so popular that it has inspired three other L&O series, Web sites (including an online fanzine called Apocrypha, named after an episode about people slavishly devoted to a cult [apocrypha ed note: Not why we chose it, but heck, it's a good enough reason!]), drinking games (see sidebar) and countless hours of trivial pursuit.

If my phone rings during an airing of L&O, it's usually a friend querying me on a familiar-looking guest star--known as "repeat offenders." "What other episode (or episodes) has that actor appeared in?" I'm asked. Other times I'm the one placing the call. There's no time limit for answering, but usually none is needed. 

Four years ago, creator Dick Wolf told me his hope was for the series to break Gunsmoke's record--it ran for 20 years. If its slavishly committed devotees have any say, that dream will come to pass. Law & Order enters its 13th season Wednesday as a solid ratings performer for NBC (No. 5) and with an episode that executive producer Michael Chernuchin promises comes with a "money back guarantee--it's great Law & Order."

Titled "American Jihad," the episode, in true L&O form, will touch on the hot-button issues of the day. On its face it looks like the John Walker Lindh-American Taliban case, but Chernuchin says it will have the series' trademark twist. 

Chernuchin--who jokingly describes himself as a "recovering lawyer," worked the show for the first six years, left to pursue other projects for the next six, and now is back on the case--tried to put his finger on the appeal of the show.

"It's a combination of things. It's not serialized. It's current. It's relatable," Chernuchin says. 

He may be on to it. In my unscientific survey of hardcore fans--the ones who for years would watch the 10 p.m. syndication airing on A&E and then stay up and watch it again at 2 a.m. for good measure--most reasoned similarly. Law & Order, they say, is "real." There's an immediacy in the ripped-from-the-headlines stories that gives them an added social resonance.

"The way we look at it is that the top half is a murder mystery and the second half is a moral mystery," Chernuchin says. This moral mystery is what, at least anecdotally, seems to intrigue the show's avid female viewers. (And to think the worry in the early years was that the program skewed too male.)

It hardly needs to be summarized, but in case there's anyone who's just come out of a 13-year coma, a rough outline of "Law & Order is as follows: The show begins with a crime, and its first half-hour follows the cops' pursuit and eventual arrest of a suspect. The second half-hour is devoted to the prosecutors, who take the case to trial.

The show, which can turn today's news stories into compelling drama in about six weeks, works at a breakneck pace, according to Chernuchin. "Every eight days you need a new script. It's like running a marathon without a water stop," he says. The show has nine writers, with "one or two people working on a script, then it comes to me."

Of course, sometimes the show's story lines hit too close to home for some of the day's newsmakers. Gary Condit's wife, Carolyn, demanded an apology for last season's "Missing" episode. In a letter to the show, her attorney complained that the episode implied "Mrs. Condit was somehow involved in Chandra Levy's disappearance, and that Mrs. Condit spoke to Miss Levy on the telephone."

There was no apology; the show counters that its stories are fictional. Just read the disclaimer that pops up at the end of episodes. Chernuchin says that tagline was added when they aired "Indifference," an installment that bore some similarities to the sensational New York City murder of 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg. Says Chernuchin, "Before that case we didn't run that disclaimer at the beginning but [Joel Steinberg] is a lawyer so we thought we better..." 

In addition to Chernuchin, who is a law school buddy of former Cook County State's Attorney Jack O'Malley (a character named Jack O'Malley turned up in the episode "Night and Fog"), a battery of studio lawyers reviews each script. And apparently lawyers are some of the show's biggest fans. The late William Kunstler, who defended the Chicago Seven, appeared in an episode titled "White Rabbit," in which he represented a '60s fugitive. And, Chernuchin reveals, another guest appearance for a famous attorney is in the works.

The show has even been contacted for legal advice: "I did a show about faulty pacemakers ['The Corporate Veil'] once and we got a call from a law firm that said they were doing a case about the same thing," Chernuchin says. "They asked for a copy of the script--they wanted to see how we won it."

Here's hoping the show continues to win over fans, one case at a time.

Note: Law & Order now airs in syndication on the TNT cable network.

Catching up with former series regulars: Where are they now?


A busy man, Moriarty has racked up an impressive number of roles in a variety of projects, including 1996's Courage Under Fire, the TV series Psi Factor, 2000's Hitler Meets Christ (he was Hitler) and 2001's Along Came a Spider. He just won a best supporting actor Emmy for his role in James Dean.


The reliable actor has been playing pretty much the same role in countless productions, including 1992's Basic Instinct, 1995's Crimson Tide, 1997's That Darn Cat, and this year's City by the Sea. He also does voice-over work, and can be seen on TV this season on Hack.


Without the L&O grind, Sorvino has had more time to pursue his opera singing (he's performed at New York's Met and has recorded three CDs) and sculpting. He was a regular on the show That's Life, which CBS cancelled last season. You can hear his voice in this year's animated Hey Arnold! The Movie.


These days, you recognize him more as Sex and the City's Mr. Big. His biggest movie thus far has been 2000's Cast Away, but you can look for him as Pompey in the upcoming miniseries Julius Caesar.


Embarked on a hit-and-miss movie career: 2000's The Next Best Thing opposite Madonna (miss); 2000's Miss Congeniality opposite Sandra Bullock (hit, but that's just our opinion); 2000's Red Planet (miss); 2000's Traffic (hit, small); and 2001's Pinero (hit, according to the seven people who saw it). More importantly, he dumped that mousy starlet he'd been dating, and married Pinero co-star Talisa Soto. They have a baby on the way.


His acting career since L&O has been spotty. Loved him in 1996's The Crow: City of Angels, but lost track of him around 1999, when he appeared on TV's G Vs. E.


Rebounded from sitcom flop The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (1998) with a regular gig on L&O spinoff Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Also notably appeared in 2002's reunion special L.A. Law: The Movie, reprising his role as Dave Meyer.


Her movie record has been unimpressive, with small roles in films such as A Smile Like Yours and Autumn in New York. But she's been crackling on TV, landing the role of Jackie Kennedy in 2000's Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot. She lets her hair down in her new series, as a tough-talking medical examiner, in Crossing Jordan, launched in 2001.


Not the ambitious type, Lowell has almost completely disappeared from the entertainment scene, preferring instead to raise son Homer with husband Richard Gere. However, you can find her on a 2001 video release, Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation, a collection of scenes from vintage horror flicks. Her fine work in 1990's The Guardian is showcased. 


Her biggest production has been her Dallas wedding to the New York Giants' Jason Sehorn, who proposed to her on The Tonight Show. In January, she starred in Lifetime's Video Voyeur: The Susan Wilson Story.


A great voice of authority, Hill is part of online investment company TD Waterhouse's $80 million advertising campaign. He's in commercials and print ads.


Celebrities love to slum it as guest stars on Law & Order. It's the Murder, She Wrote of the new millennium. 

Here are some of the bigger names who have appeared on the series. You may notice quite a few crossovers from the cast of The Sopranos

Philip Seymour Hoffman (appeared twice, as two different characters)
Felicity Huffman (appeared twice, as two different characters)
Michael Imperioli
Samuel L. Jackson
Allison Janney
James Earl Jones
Robert Klein
Fran Lebowitz
Mark Linn-Baker
Laura Linney
Patti LuPone
William H. Macy (appeared twice, as two different characters, and married to occasional guest star Felicity Huffman)
Costas Mandylor
Camryn Manheim (appeared three times, as three different characters)
Nancy Marchand
Richard Masur
Michael McKean (appeared in an episode with his real-life wife, Annette O'Toole)
Larry Miller
Cynthia Nixon
Michael Nouri
Amanda Peet
Michael Rispoli
Julia Roberts
Tony Roberts
Sam Rockwell
Jerry Stiller
Eric Stoltz
Elaine Stritch
Regina Taylor (appeared twice, as two different characters)
Maura Tierney
Aida Turturro (appeared three times, as three different characters)
Courtney B. Vance (appeared twice, as two different characters)
Robert Vaughn
Abe Vigoda
Eli Wallach
Paige Wiser


Beginning Wednesday, former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) joins the cast of Law & Order, replacing Dianne Wiest as the district attorney. Here is a list of cast members through the years:

Michael Moriarty: A.D.A. Benjamin Stone (Seasons 1-4) 
Richard Brooks: A.D.A. Paul Robinette (1-3) 
George Dzundza: Det. Sgt. Max Greevey (1) 
Chris Noth: Det. Mike Logan (1-5) 
Steven Hill: D.A. Adam Schiff (1-10)
Dann Florek: Capt. Donald Cragen (1-3)
Paul Sorvino: Det. Phil Cerreta (2-3) 
Jerry Orbach: Det. Lennie Briscoe (3-present ) 
S. Epatha Merkerson: Lt. Anita Van Buren (4-present) 
Jill Hennessy: A.D.A. Claire Kincaid (4-6)
Sam Waterston: A.D.A. Jack McCoy (5-present) 
Benjamin Bratt: Det. Reynaldo Curtis (6-9) 
Cary Lowell: A.D.A. Jamie Ross (7 & 8) 
Angie Harmon: A.D.A. Abbie Carmichael (9-11) 
Jesse L. Martin: Det. Ed Green (10-present) 
Dianne Wiest: D.A. Nora Lewin (11-12) 
Elisabeth Rohm: A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn (12-present) 

A spin through series in the L&O collection

"Spinoff" is an ugly word to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit executive producer Neal Baer. He considers the other shows that bear the trademark Law & Order brand name to be separate and distinct entities. 

These are their stories:

9 p.m. Fridays
MO: This series debuted in September 1999. Dann Florek, who played Capt. Cragen during the first three seasons of the original L&O, runs a squad that investigates sex crimes. The show has been peppered with famous guest stars such as Martha Plimpton and Henry Winkler.

Major players: Cragen's team includes Benson (Mariska Hartigay, daughter of Jayne Mansfield); Stabler (Christopher Meloni, Oz's Death Row-bound Chris Keller); Munch (Richard Belzer, playing the same conspiracy theorizing character he made infamous on Homicide: Life on the Street), and Tutuola (Ice-T, the rapper-actor who starred in L&O creator Dick Wolf's short-lived 1997 series Players). 

Stephanie March plays Cabot, the ADA to whom the cops deliver their cases.

8 p.m. Sundays
MO: Last season's L&O addition starts before the crime and the major case detectives get inside the criminal's head in bringing the perp to justice. Vincent D'Onofrio carries most of the weight of the series as Det. Goren, a character who is part Sherlock Holmes, part profiler.

Major players: Eames (Steppenwolf member Kathryn Erbe, who shined as Prisoner No. 97B642 on Oz) is Goren's partner; Deakins (Jamey Sheridan, who stalked former original L&O castmember Angie Harmon in the Lifetime movie Video Voyeur earlier this year) is Goren's boss; and D.A. Carver (Courtney B. Vance, who was riveting in the original L&O episode titled "Rage") is Goren's hand-off guy. 

MO: It was reality TV-meets-L&O in this summer series that followed actual cases.
Major players: Real-life prosecutors and would-be criminals star in this intriguing show, which could be as wild as anything a screenwriter could dream up. NBC picked the show up for another season earlier this month.

Software lets mystery hit home

As the fall television season debuts, Legacy Interactive today announced the launch of their new CD-ROM game based on the hit series Law & Order

Featuring the voices of Law & Order stars Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson and Elisabeth Rohm, Law & Order: Dead on the Money allows fans to partner with their favorite characters to solve an original Wall Street murder mystery case written by a Law & Order episodic writer and long-time fan. Based on Wolf Films' hit NBC series Law & Order, this interactive, 3D mystery game allows fans to realistically solve an original Wall Street murder case.

Law & Order: Dead on the Money, distributed by Vivendi Universal Games, will be available for a suggested retail price of $29.99 and is available for Windows 95/98/ME/XP. For more information about the game, log onto


Et Cetera
Chris Noth is certainly making the rounds, lately with a cute lil thing known as Tara Wilson on his arm (for those not in the know, Ms. Wilson apparently was employed at Noth's club The Cutting Room when they met). A few of his stopping points:

A Hennessy V.S.O.P./Dior sponsored party in celebration of the launch of CNN's The Music Room and season four of HBO's Sex and the City in Hong Kong. Reported: "The appearance of Chris Noth, at the Hong Kong event, the actor who plays "Mr. Big" in the Sex and the City series, set many female hearts racing, as he mingled freely with the crowd." Noth also appeared at the September 5 kickoff and after-party of The Sopranos fourth season at Radio City Music Hall in New York City....

HBO's Sopranos premiere, NYC

Chris Noth and date Tara Wilson

2002 Emmy Awards

Noth & 'Stache

Noth and Wilson




Chris Meloni

Meloni and 
wife, Doris Sherman
Sex And The City Premiere, New York City

Wilson and Noth

Wilson and Noth

Wilson and Noth

Wilson and Noth


Elisabeth Rohm


In mid-August, the New York Daily News reported that SVU's Ice-T, 44, and "bosomy" swimsuit model Nicole "Coco" Austin have gotten engaged. They met on a video shoot in January. "It was lust at first sight, and then it was love," said T. The twosome wore his-and-her pink Versace outfits (see photo) to the VH-1 and Self magazine party at Eyebeam. "He picks out my clothes every day so we can always match," cooed Coco. "In fact, we do everything together. We never leave each other's side." "Forget the so-called celebrity hot couples. We have better sex than all of them," boasted Ice-T. The two hope that preacher Bishop Don Magic Juan will marry them, since it was he who gave the advice to "put a ring on that playa'." T promptly bought Coco's heart-shaped diamond engagement ring. And in other Ice-T "lust to love" news, 28-year old actress Linda Marie Sanchez claims a DNA test confirms that Ice-T is the father of her 10-month-old son and is seeking 17% of his adjusted gross income to support her child. He denies the claim.... SPOILERS AND SPURIOUS GOSSIP IN THIS NEXT SECTION: From the gossip section of Web site DataLounge got this from a gossip website came this seeming article, posted by "Richard Mel Brooks" on August 26: "Worked on the set of Law & Order for the second episode for this coming season and the story's a humdinger: A man finds out that his fiancee was having an affair with a married man and murders her on the night of September 10th 2001. He takes her body to an abandoned lot in Hell's Kitchen. Then, of course, September 11th happens and isn't it lucky that the girl happened to work at the WTC? So he goes back to the lot, cuts off the gal's hand and puts that and her purse a few blocks away from Ground Zero. A skeleton is found in Hell's Kitchen not containing a hand. The married man who was having the affair with the gal gets arrested instead. Through clever stuff having to do with the purse and a ring on the finger of the hand the culprit is revealed. Elisabeth Rohm was such a fucking brat on the set, but kinda fun to watch. She and Waterston seem to get along and had a 20 minute conversation about what kind of macrobiotic food they'd be ordering for lunch. The director, Richie Dobbs, is a total shithead. The crew hates him. Really hot guy, Stevie Ray Dallimore, plays the married man. He's a dead ringer for an actor on One Life To Live named Ty Treadway. Should be a good episode, if somewhat controversial. I don't believe the storyline has actually occured in any way although of course frauds had been perpetrated post 9/11." END SPOILER/SPURIOUS GOSSIP ALERT ....

And finally, a little preview of Chris Noth as Pompey in the upcoming production of Caesar:

(click on image for larger picture)


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