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Law & Order -- News Wire, Page 1
Primetime Weekend Ratings
Mediaweek.com, March 29, 2004
-Friday's Winners: Dateline (NBC), Law & Order: Criminal Intent R (NBC). Based on the fast affiliate ratings, NBC scored a clean Friday sweep with its combination of a two-hour Dateline (HH: 7.0/13, viewers: 10.14 million, A18-49: 3.2/10 from 8-10 p.m.) and a repeat of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (HH: 7.9/15, viewers: 11.39 million, A18-49: 3.9/13).

Orbach May Be Out on "L&O"
Zap2It, March 26, 2004
NBC's "Law & Order" was strong before Jerry Orbach and it will probably be strong without Jerry Orbach, but that doesn't mean that fans of the long-running series won't really miss Detective Lennie Briscoe when he's gone. After 12 years on the beat, Orbach will reportedly depart Dick Wolf's venerable crime drama at the end of the season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Orbach is preparing to join the ranks of George Dzundza, Paul Sorvino, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Moriarty, Chris Noth, Angie Harmon, Carey Lowell and Jill Hennessy in the rogue's gallery of lamented former "Law & Order" stars. Of course, every time an "L&O" star leaves, another rises up to take their place. Although Orbach has the most seniority of any cast member, joining the club in 1992, S. Epatha Merkerson (member since 1993) and Sam Waterston (member since 1994) remain in place. Jesse L. Martin (member since 1999) and Elisabeth Rohm (member since 2001) are also still around under further notice.While Orbach may be leaving the mothership, the possibility remains that his character might return for the recently announced fourth installment of the franchise, "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," which may incorporate familiar faces from several of the "L&O" shows.

Ching Ching
TV Guide, March 26, 2004
There's bad news and even more bad news awaiting Law & Order fans this morning. The bad news: A major character is leaving NBC's long-running drama. And the even more bad news: It ain't Elisabeth Rohm's Serena Southerlyn. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jerry Orbach — who spent 12 years on the beat as Det. Lennie Briscoe — will depart the show at the end of the season. However, there's buzz that the veteran actor may take a role on the upcoming fourth installment of the franchise, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, which will follow a criminal case from arraignment to the jury's verdict.

New Law & Order Will Offer "Trial by Jury"
Zap2It, March 25, 2004
Put aside all of those jokes about "Law & Order: Elevator Inspectors Unit" and "Law & Order: Parking Violation Squad." The latest spin-off from Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" mothership will be "Law & Order: Trial by Jury." Speaking to advertisers at an NBC program development panel on Thursday (March 25), the network's President of Creative Development Kevin Reilly calls the latest permutation of the "L&O" brand the "most unique yet." While the premise for "Trial by Jury" sounds different from anything within the "Law & Order" family, it sounds vaguely similar to Wolf's unscripted summer series "Crime & Punishment." While that show offered a reality take on the trial work of prosecuting attorneys, the new entry in the family will give an omniscient overview of the entire trial process.The show's format is set up to allow for the possibility of cameos from other actors and characters from within the "Law & Order" universe. Every week will feature the kind of ripped-from-the-headlines stories that that franchise has become know for, beginning with a criminal arraignment and continuing through the trial. The show will provide fictional access to prosecutors, defenders, judicial chambers, the jury room and every other nook and cranny of the process. It's possible there will be some toe-stepping between "Trial by Jury" and FOX's upcoming drama "The Jury," from Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson. That show doesn't have a place in FOX's schedule yet, but it will look at the jury system from within the pool of 12 citizens doing their civic duty. "The Jury," which stars Shalom Harlow and Billy Burke among others, is likely to premiere before NBC's show can go into production.
Reilly says that while it's possible that "Trial By Jury" could be ready for a fall premiere, the show could also find a home in the post-January midseason period.

Dose of "Law & Order" Gives TNT Cable Win
Zap2It, March 18, 2004
If somebody came up with the bright idea of putting SpongeBob in charge of a new spinoff titled "Law & Order: Underwater Inspection Unit," it would dominate cable ratings for years to come. The Nickelodeon animated hit and Dick Wolf's long-running crime franchise dominated the cable ratings for the week ending Sunday, March 14. Overall, TNT was cable's most watched network in primetime, pulling in 2.65 million viewers per night in primetime, topping second place USA's average of 2.39 million viewers. Third place TBS came in with 2.12 million viewers, better than Nickelodeon's 2.05 and Disney Channel's 1.93.The first of three TNT episodes of "Law & Order" was No. 6 with 4.39 million viewers, while the least watched "L&O" episode was No. 13 with 3.73 million viewers. Meanwhile, USA was also paced by two episodes of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which attracted 3.79 million viewers for No. 12 and 3.71 million for No. 14.

Sunday's 'Law & Order: CI' lifts NBC to No. 1
Mediaweek, March 16, 2004
NBC finished ahead of CBS on the strength of its justice-based lineup Sunday, averaging a 3.9 adults 18-49 rating and 10 share compared to CBS’s 3.5/9. ABC was third at 3.2/8, just edging Fox’s 3.1/8. The WB finished fifth with a 1.6/4.NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” was the highest-rated show of the night with a 4.9 rating at 9 p.m., jumping 58 percent over lead-in “American Dreams.” The first hour of CBS’s Kirstie Alley movie “Family Sins” was second in the hour with a 3.7 average, ahead of ABC’s “Alias” and a guest appearance by “The Office” star Ricky Gervais. At 10 p.m. “Sins” nudged up to a 4.0 average while NBC’s “Crossing Jordan” dipped slightly to a 4.7. ABC’s recently canceled “The Practice” averaged a 3.3.

Christmas Future
TV Guide, March 12, 2004
Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander and Law & Order's Jesse L. Martin have joined the cast of NBC's upcoming musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring Kelsey Grammer as Scrooge. Alexander will play Scrooge's dead business partner Marley, while Martin will play the Ghost of Christmas Present.

NBC Celebrates 300 Cases of "Law & Order"
Zap2It, March 5, 2004
The 13th season of "Law & Order" will end with a milestone: the 300th episode of the longest-running drama series currently in primetime. To celebrate the landmark episode, NBC will devote the final night of sweeps -- Wednesday, May 21 -- entirely to the series. Two new episodes will run back-to-back starting at 9 p.m. ET, with No. 300 ending the season at 10 p.m. They will be preceded by the pilot episode of "Law & Order," shot in 1988. The pilot episode -- which was the first one filmed but aired as Episode 6 of the first season -- features the first principal cast: Chris Noth and George Dzundza as Detectives Mike Logan and Max Greevey; Dann Florek, now on the spin-off "Law & Order: SVU," as Capt. Donald Cragen; and Michael Moriarty and Richard Brooks as prosecutors Ben Stone and Paul Robinette."Law & Order" has been nominated for the outstanding drama series Emmy for 11 consecutive years, a record for consecutive best-series nods it shares with comedies "Cheers" and "M*A*S*H." It won the award in 1997.

Marlo Thomas is Free to be on SVU
Zap2It, February 13, 2004
"That Girl" is about to pound that gavel. Emmy-winner Marlo Thomas is set to join NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" for a five-episode arc playing what producers call "a dynamic and savvy judge." Thomas's first appearance will be on next Tuesday's (Feb. 17) episode. Her character will serve as a mentor to Diane Neal's assistant district attorney. "We're huge fans of her work," executive producer Neal Baer tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Seymour Makes Time for SVU
Zap2It, February 9, 2004
"I never guest star," Jane Seymour notes. It's true. In fact, since Seymour's CBS drama "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" went off the air in 1998, the one-time Queen of the TV Movie has been harder and harder to find on your television dial....Seymour may not have been acting, but she hasn't been on hiatus. She's been showing her paintings around the country, raising a family, creating home furnishings for Saks Incorporated, developing behind-the-camera projects with husband James Keach and designing ballet sets and women's and children's clothing lines. When Seymour says that she's "an actress by default," it's easy to see where her priorities lie. Seymour makes her first scripted television appearance since 2002 in this Tuesday's episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." In the episode, titled "Families," Seymour plays a wealthy socialite whose family is torn apart by a rape/murder that hits all too close to home....The Emmy-winning actress was lured back in front of the camera by what she describes as a "particularly tricky scene" at the episode's end. Fortunately, she was already a fan of the three-headed Dick Wolf franchise. "If you look at the television schedules, you'll see that unless it's a reality show, it all seems to be about 'Law & Order' of some sort," Seymour laughs. After years as the focus on her own show and starring in lengthy miniseries and original movies, Seymour enjoyed the different pace of making a guest appearance and envied the stars of "Special Victims Unit." "There are so many different people in it that they don't have the grind that I had," she says, remembering her days as a medicine woman. "I was in every single scene -- I would have one page off per episode most of the time. I looked at these people and thought this is a pretty cushy job compared to what I did and that if I did do a series again, this would be the way to do it, to be part of an ensemble."

"Law & Order" Showrunner Bails
Zap2It, January 29, 2004
"Law & Order," famous for its cast changes over the years, is undergoing some changes behind the camera as well. Michael Chernuchin, a long-time writer and producer on the NBC series, has quit his post as showrunner, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sources tell the trade paper he had a "falling out" with the franchise's creator, Dick Wolf. Neither Chernuchin nor Universal TV, which produces the show, are commenting.Chernuchin, who's also worked on the spin-off "Criminal Intent" and "24," left "Law & Order" earlier this month. Executive producer Matthew Penn and co-exec producers Eric Overmyer and Roz Weinman have taken over show-running duties.

The Write Stuff
TV Guide, January 20, 2004
The Writers Guild of America announced nominations for its annual TV kudos on Monday, and two episodes of Fox's Malcolm in the Middle will compete with installments of Sex and the City and Frasier on the comedy side. Law & Order: SVU led the drama contenders with two nods — including one for Stephanie March's riveting final episode. Competing with SVU will be The O.C., The West Wing and the original Law & Order. Winners will be announced Feb. 21.
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