|Ex-Law & Order
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
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
"You know, I wish Jerry would stay in the
film business," Wolf jokes, before saying that while he thinks
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
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
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
series remains strong. Fourth show also possible, but idea secret
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.
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
& 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
in Law & Order, and the DNA of the new Dragnet will have
& 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
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
"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,
& 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
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
The newest show in the franchise,
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
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
"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
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
Unit, Criminal Intent and the summer reality series
"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
Intent on Sundays. And Wolf will do an updated Dragnet
Wolf takes credit for the trend because of
& 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 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
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
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
By Fraizer Moore
August 27, 2002
If you're a fan, you see Law & Order
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
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
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
"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 &
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
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
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
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."
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
Order since last summer, airing different seasons at different times.
It's been a ratings workhorse for both, regularly popping averages above
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
Now, A&E will lean on another NBC drama,
Watch, paying about $700,000 per episode for the show's three seasons.
Watch debuts on A&E Sept. 1, airing weeknights at 11 p.m. EST.
Real Cops On TV Copyright
The New York
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
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,
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
Boomtown. He was quoted in the Los AngelesTimes saying
the city had that in the past the city had "basically been lazy about its
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.
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
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
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
& 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,
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
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
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
And the photo op escalated into a fan frenzy.
Noth was swarmed by the adjacent table full of women engaged in a bridal
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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.
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
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
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
September 29, 2002
'L&O' back on the case for 13th year
September 29, 2002
BY AVIS WEATHERSBEE ASSISTANT FEATURES EDITOR
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
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
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
Away, but you can look for him as Pompey in the upcoming miniseries
Embarked on a hit-and-miss movie career: 2000's
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
& Order: Special Victims Unit. Also notably appeared in 2002's
reunion special L.A. Law: The Movie, reprising his role as Dave
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
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.
CELEBRITY GUEST STARS
BIG NAME STARS IN THE LINEUP
Celebrities love to slum it as guest stars
on Law & Order. It's the Murder, She Wrote of the new
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
Samuel L. Jackson
James Earl Jones
William H. Macy (appeared twice, as two different
characters, and married to occasional guest star Felicity Huffman)
Camryn Manheim (appeared three times, as
three different characters)
Michael McKean (appeared in an episode with
his real-life wife, Annette O'Toole)
Regina Taylor (appeared twice, as two different
Aida Turturro (appeared three times, as three
Courtney B. Vance (appeared twice, as two
LAW & ORDER ROGUES GALLERY
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
Michael Moriarty: A.D.A. Benjamin Stone (Seasons
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
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
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:
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
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,
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.
LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT
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
CRIME & PUNISHMENT
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
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
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:
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....
|Sex And The City Premiere, New
Wilson and Noth
Wilson and Noth
Wilson and Noth
Wilson and Noth
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
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:
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)
Too much Noth for you?
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