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[L&O: Season Premiere Info (SPOILERS)]
[L&O: Special Victims' Unit - Cast Information & apocrypha speculation]
[CBS Heads Due Noth For Series, Telefilm (From The Hollywood Reporter)]
[Why A&E Lost Law & Order to TNT]
[Etcetera: Chris Noth in new indie movie; ADA Returns to L&O This Season]

Ten And Counting
Law & Order Begins 10th Season on September 22 (SPOILERS)

    On September 22, Law & Order will reach an important milestone with the start of their tenth season on the air, an episode called "Gunshow," directed by East Coast Executive Producer Ed Sherin. In it, Dennis Trope (Neal Huff) is arrested for firing a semi-automatic gun into a crowd, after having tampered with a weapon to make it an automatic; that is, to make it fire more bullets in the same amount of time. Cops Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and newcomer Eddie Green (newcomer Jesse Martin) quickly bring Trope to justice, but the real rest of the story takes place in the courtroom. Lawyers Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Abbie Carmichael (Angie Harmon) attempt to prosecute gun manufacturer Weber (Murphy Guyver, who appeared in "Skin Deep" and "Heaven," as well as two episodes of Oz), with mixed and surprising results. Also appearing in the 10th season premiere: Helen Carey as defense counsel Swann, whom Homicide: Life on the Streets fans will remember as A.S.A. Maggie Conroy; Jeff Brooks as gun expert Colby, who appeared in "Second Opinion"; Ron McLarty who reprises his role as Judge Wright (he was Wright in "Harm" and "Damaged") and also appeared in "Asylum"; Homicide's Peter Gerety, who has appeared in "Pride"; and Hildy Brooks as the jury foreperson, who was in "In Memory Of." Fans are advised to watch for Waterston's electrifying closing arguments ... and to check out the sketch artist sitting behind Weber's defense table. Wave 'Hi' to Kitt, assuming she's at all visible.

Law & Order: Special Victims' Unit
Hard Info; Press Kit Information; Speculation

Hard Info (Of a kind)
Setside sources working on the early episodes of the first-ever Law & Order spin-off series, Law & Order: Special Victims' Unit, which first airs September 20 [NBC had aired an ad saying October 3], are giving it mixed results. "Wolf knew the only thing he'd get on TV that would really sell is Law & Order, and the only thing he could never really fit into Law & Order is sex, so he put sex with Law & Order ... and this is what he got," says the source. Additionally, the source indicates that many sequences are "graphic" and "intense." "I'd be really surprised if all of this actually got to air," the source concluded.

Press Kit Information (That is, we didn't write the junk below)
and speculation (in brackets -- we did write that stuff):

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Mondays (9-10 pm ET on NBC)

This hard-hitting and emotional companion series to NBC's Law & Order (Wednesdays, 10-11pm ET) chronicles the life and crimes of the elite Special Victims Unit of the NYPD. [Editor's note: Does this mean the SVU personnel are committing crimes?] Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is created by Emmy Award-winning producer Dick Wolf, whose critically acclaimed Law & Order is the longest-running drama series on TV, the winner of the 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama series and the most consecutively Emmy-nominated drama series in the history of television.

Although Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will enable characters from the Law & Order universe to transmigrate [Ed. Note: It's a religious experience!] between the two series and feature some storyline crossovers, the new program will also have a strong identity of its own.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit follows Detective Elliott Stabler (Chris Meloni, Oz), a seasoned veteran of the Unit who has seen it all, and his partner, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay, NBC's ER) whose past is the reason she joined the Unit, but her future is why she stays.

Overseeing the Unit is Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek, reprising the role he played on the first three seasons of Law & Order and in the recent telefilm Exiled: A Law & Order Movie). Cragen's tough but supportive approach to the complex cases guides the squad through the sometimes difficult but always compelling tasks they face each day.

Also joining the Unit is a familiar face from NBC's critically acclaimed Homicide: Life on the Street and several Law & Order crossover episodes -- Detective John Munch, played by the sardonic, wisecracking Richard Belzer. A recent transfer from Baltimore's homicide unit [Ed. Note: SPOILER: Allegedly, Munch's new bride was found in bed with an unnamed fellow detective -- Gharty, you sly dog! -- and this caused him to move to New York, where apparently the cops who have slept with his wives and ex-wives -- hello Briscoe! -- are at least genial about it.], Munch brings his acerbic wit, conspiracy theories and street-honed investigative skills to the squad. Rounding out the team is Munch's partner, Detective Brian Cassidy (Dean Winters, Oz), an enthusiastic newcomer who worships the ground on which his partner walks.

The team's dogged pursuits are coupled with a special level of concern and sympathy for the victims. Each episode features a new case to solve, new victims to console as well as the constant struggle for the detectives to juggle the emotional toll of the job and the pressures it puts on their personal lives.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a Wolf Films production, in association with Studios USA Television. Dick Wolf (Law & Order, New York Undercover [Ed. Note: But no The Sentinel?]) and Robert Palm (Law & Order, Miami Vice) are executive producers; Ted Kotcheff and Peter Jankowski are co-executive producers.

From selected individual press releases....

Chris Meloni
Detective Elliott Stabler [Ed. Note: His name is spelled within the release at least 2 different ways.]

A native of Washington, D.C., Chris Meloni comes to the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit after a series of memorable guest-starring roles on some of television's acclaimed series. In addition to his new starring role on the Law & Order spinoff, Maloni [Ed. Note: Hey, copy editors -- it's Meloni] will reprise his role as the duplicitous inmate Chris Keller on the third season of the hard-hitting, critically praised series Oz. In another memorable role on NYPD Blue, Meloni played Jimmy Liery, the volatile undercover target of Emmy Award winner Kim Delaney's Detective Russell. He has also appeared on Homicide: Life on the Streets.

Meloni makes a move to the right side of the law as Detective Elliot Stabler. "Stabler and I are alike in that we're focused on our job and couldn't see doing anything else with our lives," says Meloni about this character Detective Elliot Stabler. "He's a rock solid guy, with a great capacity for compassion, the ironic, and the absurd. He can relish the small triumphs when they come, and doesn't allow the horrors of his job to infect him." Meloni is familiar with difficult work, spending a few years in construction before beginning his acting career.

An avid traveler, Meloni has explored from Turkey to Bali and is searching for points in between to visit. He also enjoys weightlifting, playing basketball, football, chess and is a martial arts enthusiast.

Dann Florek
Captain Donald Cragen

Reprising his role as Captain Cragen, Dann Florek joins the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Florek played the part for four [Ed. Note: How many, now?] seasons on NBC's Law & Order, and in the recent Law & Order telefilm, Exiled: A Law & Order Movie.

A member of the prestigious Acting Company at the Julliard School, Florek has appeared in such feature films as Angel Heart, The Flintstones, Sweet Liberty and Hard Rain.

Raised in Flat Rock, Michigan, Florek entered Eastern Michigan University as a math and physics major, but left with a newfound interest in drama. "I really thought I was going to be a math/physics person, but I was in choir and they offered me a scholarship in drama. I thought, hey, maybe it'll be more fun than synthetic projective geometry."

Mariska Hargitay
Detective Olivia Benson

Mariska Hargitay plays Olivia Benson, an ambitious and emotionally vulnerable detective on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. "As a woman, it's gratifying to play a part that's a multilayered challenge. Olivia is not only a competent, street-smart cop, she's an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism."

Hargitay is known to millions of NBC viewers from her recurring role on ER as Dr. Greene's (Anthony Edwards) girlfriend Cynthia Hooper in the 1997-98 season of the top-rated show. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. She splits her time between New York and Los Angeles. The UCLA graduate speaks Hungarian, French and Italian.

[Ed. Note: It's probably safe to bet she won't last more than a season or two, assuming the show stays on air. L.A. transplants notoriously hate working in NYC conditions; she'll wanna go home where it's warm right away.]

CBS Heading Due Noth For Series, Telefilm
(From The Hollywood Reporter)
Reprinted Without Permission

By Lynette Rice

    CBS has closed a unique development deal with Chris Noth, who plays the steamy on-again/off-again love interest of Sarah Jessica Parker on HBO's Emmy-nominated Sex and the City. The eye will develop a series for Noth to star in under the terms of the one-year deal brokered by UTA. The arrangement is unique in that Noth -- who's expected to receive a hefty upfront payment -- will earn additional bonuses if and when the project winds it way through development. He also may appear in a CBS telefilm. "I think he's a leading man who is incredibly versatile," said Nina Tassler, CBS' senior vp drama development. "He can be the straight man, and he's wonderful with character parts. He's got tremendous integrity on screen."
    Best known for his portrayal of Detective Mike Logan on Law & Order from 1990-95, Noth generated a new following with his guest-starring role as Mr. Big on Sex and the City. The actor just wrapped his second season on the Darren Star comedy that recently earned an Emmy nom for best comedy and a best actress nom for Parker. Noth is expected to appear in future episodes of Sex, sources said. His other recent credits include telefilms Exiled: A Law & Order Movie on NBC and Getting to Know All About You on USA.

Law & Order Moves in 2002 to TNT
How Come A&E Gave Up?

    The new millennium may seem far away, but not for the programmers at TNT, who apparently spent an obscene amount of money to snatch up the rights to re-run Law & Order, starting in 2002. But A&E is the network that really helped keep Law & Order in the public consciousness -- airing it up to four times daily meant it was hard to turn around without bumping into a rerun. Whether or not TNT has plans to use their reruns with such frequency is still in debate. But for those who want some kind of explanation as to why A&E didn't fight harder to keep the reruns -- the reason is simple economics. According to a source at A&E, "There was a situation where we had an opportunity to re-up," says the source, "and Turner came in
and bid a huge amount over. The difference wasn't a small percentage so you can make up the difference, it was a huge amount, and at that point it wouldn't have been worth it to us. And that was very hard because we do very well with Law & Order, and have done very well with it, and will continue to until 2002. Anyway, we were fully prepared to do what needed to be done to get it, until that happened, and then it was like, 'Okay.' I guess that happens, but [TNT's bid amount] was so astounding it was like, 'Oh, okay, then!' "

Et Cetera: Chris Noth co-starring in new film
ADA Returns to Law & Order!

A new film featuring Chris Noth (ex-Mike Logan) will be seeking a distributor at September's Independent Feature Film Market in New York City. The film, Pigeonholed, was directed by brothers Tripp and Michael Swanhaus and stars (along with Noth): Justin Pierce, Rosanna Arquette and Allison Folland....Yes, you read right in TV Guide -- a former Law & Order Assistant District Attorney will be reprising her role in this, the tenth season -- but it's not the ADA you expect. Carey Lowell (ex-Jamie Ross) will be reprising her role in the season's sixth episode. When she was last seen, in 1998's "Monster," Ross had just exited an ethics hearing, and may or may not have explained that Jack McCoy enticed a witness to leave the country in "Under the Influence" so that he could win his trial against a drunk driver. McCoy is still practicing, and seems to have suffered no ill effects (although he no longer drinks himself) of the hearing, so presumably Ross covered for him. But look to this episode to likely resolve the question, or at least address it in Law & Order's inimitable vague fashion. Apparently, according to Richard Brooks (see interview this issue), he and Lowell had been approached to return for the 200th episode, but the idea was scrapped once Julia Roberts was inked to star in the episode.... Speaking of returning ADAs, several Law & Order setside sources firmly deny that Jill Hennessey (ex-Claire Kincaid) will be returning in any way to the show -- not even on a pre-recorded videotape, and not as a twin. Hennessey departed in "Aftershock," in 1996. "That was on the internet?" a source asked in amazement. "Well, it's simply not true." Sorry, folks....

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