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Law & Order - Cast & Crew Comments
Rene Balcer 
"[T]he format seemed to be a great vehicle for every week just addressing any kind of topic you can imagine and not having to service all those personal stories that end up overtaking most series." (TUC)

David Black 
"Dick [Wolf] had this new cop show he wanted to do in New York and make New York a main character. We had a screening before it was picked up by NBC. Robert Nathan was there and said, 'Boy, I never wanted to do TV but I want to do this. This is the smartest, classiest show I've ever seen.'" (TUC)

"The scenes are very, very short. You start very deep in and get to the emotional heart of the scene and you get out. It's fast. I think we changed the speed at which shows move on TV. We were the first show to do that. It's very efficient." (TUC)

"I like to see New York as Dickens would have seen London, from the gutter to the penthouse. The more class conflict you get, the stronger the show is." (TUC)

Benjamin Bratt 
"I think it's the cast changes from year to year that actually keep the show fresh. Clearly, the star of the show is not any one actor, but the group of actors, and, more importantly, the stories that are told, and the form that IS the show."

Richard Brooks 
"[T]here is always the potential for Law & Order to be making political statements that are uncomfortable. It's the nature of the show. The title alone glamorizes the subject. But for the most part, we play in a gray area." (TUC)

Michael S. Chernuchin 
"I loved the idea of telling a story from beginning to end. We travel a huge distance in just under forty-five minutes. We show a criminal investigation from soup to nuts. It's essentially a study of the criminal justice system presented in an entertaining fashion." (TUC)

"We usually divided the story into cops and lawyers, and I took the back half and [Rene Balcer] took the front half....He liked twists and turns and forensic evidence, and I go for the big issues and the legal part at the end. That's why we worked so well together." (TUC)

"You have to be realistic, even to the point of showing that you don't always win. I think we are one of the first law programs to demonstrate that. Audiences love that aspect of the show because they never know what'll happen in the last five minutes" (TUC)

Dann Florek 
On the unique style of L&O..."The style -- I had never seen anything quite like this -- the sense of, almost, News at Eleven. The immediacy of it. The visceral quality. It was muscular. There were no establishing shots....I was really taken with it." (TUC)

William N. Fordes 
"Law & Order is as authentic as you can get within the confines of drama. I spent six years at the DA's office in Manhattan and, short of Court TV, it doesn't get any more realistic than this."

Jeff Hayes 
"Tackling themes is what makes it interesting. Most of the crew and production team probably wouldn't be doing this show if it weren't really terrific and intelligent. Law & Order is smart and has high production values." (TUC)

Steven Hill 
"The atmosphere of New York can't be duplicated anywhere. The show has its own original taste and smell and feel, and people get a big kick out of that."

Jesse L. Martin 
 “It’s like the New York actor thing to do -- this is the show everyone wants to guest on."

S. Epatha Merkerson 
"The show is very topical and provocative, and I do believe that's why we've been on for 12 years. We've always found a way to take a news story and find a twist to it. Sometimes it gets very close."

Robert Stuart Nathan 
On Joseph Stern's contribution to L&O..."If we hadn't given it enough or gone far enough, [Joe Stern] would remind us that we would have to live with this for the rest of our lives. 'This show will run forever -- somewhere. Don't turn on your television in four or five years and wish you did better. Do it now.' That was his pursuit of excellence, which made the show what it was." (TUC)

"This was a writer's show because it featured wall-to-wall dialogue. There were no action sequences or pauses in the dialogue. This was a writer's dream because it was all about words."

Chris Noth 
"Law and Order is completely story-driven and completely characterless, really. If you do that format for five years and you're an actor, you're bound to get bored. ... It wears on you. And it was really wearing on me. But you need a job, and I felt awfully blessed to be in New York City and to be doing a show that was considered intelligent in the world of TV. But hey, five years is enough time."

"Most of us knew that this thing was head and shoulders above anything else on TV at the time. With Law & Order I saw the potential for a cinematic experience on television, for stuff that was uncomfortable for people to watch in terms of issues, language, situations, depth of character. We were shooting in New York when no one else was. This was on a level TV had never reached." (TUC)

"I don't like N.Y.P.D. Blue because it tries to pretend it's a New York show. You know it's shot in a Hollywood backlot. Also Brooklyn South [ 1997-98]. It's so L.A., so un-New York....They all try to talk New York. They all sound stupid. Law & Order is one hundred times more authentic." (TUC)

Jerry Orbach 
On being an L&O cast member..."It's a lot more fun for actors to cry and rant and rave, or have a drug problem or a drinking problem. Once in a while, I get jealous of people who get to do real histrionics. But that's all right. That stuff's only about awards. It's not about people watching. People are very loyal to our show and they want to see the case resolved in an hour."

"It may sound a little off the wall to say this, but having the opportunity to do this in this long an arc has given me — and is continuing to give me — a feeling that I'm doing something for the city and for the people of it and for the cops. I see it every day on the street — the profile of Law & Order has gotten bigger and bigger. And the way the city feels about us [cast members]... it's like we're part of the good things that happen in the city."

Robert Palm 
"[T]he television medium is a black-and-white world these days, but on this show we got to pull off an ambiguous picture where heroes are tainted and the guilty characters have mixed motives." (TUC)

David Platt 
"When we're filming on the streets, the energy of New York City is still there no matter how much you try to control it. The soundtrack vibrates with New York. You can see it in the light as well. When you watch N.Y.P.D. Blue, you can tell it's not  New York because the light's not right." (TUC)

Gene Ritchings 
"Joe [Stern] kept the show on point and did not let it stray into what Hollywood calls 'character,' which tends to be overly sentimentalized. Law & Order was regarded in its early years as rather emotionally cold and very male-dominated, but I think that's because it stuck to structure and basic drama." (TUC)

Paul Sorvino 
"One of the frustrating things about that role -- one of the reasons George [Dzundza] left, I assume, and certainly why I left -- is that there wasn't enough range....It wasn't a large enough vehicle for me to express what it was I want to express as an artist."

"One time we were downtown in the Wall Street area and heard two shots. Turns out that a guy shot at a policeman, didn't kill him....It was within one hundred feet of us. There's a lot going on in the streets of New York." (TUC)

Joseph Stern 
On L&O..."Stylistically, it was innovative. The pilot is the most frenetic, the grittiest of all the shows. We knew we were on to something; when we started making them, we knew even more so." (TUC)

On his years with L&O..."It was real guerrilla filmmaking. That's what made it so exciting."

Sam Waterston 
I have this theory about long-running tv shows. There's something about the fundamental structure of a show like ours that says something people recognize to be true in their own lives. That's why they can watch it over and over and over again."

"The deal with Law & Order is that its world is indifferent to its characters' personal lives. Private lives don't matter on this show except as they affect people's jobs. That's the way the show is structured. And I think audiences like that. It's real."

Dick Wolf 
In 1998, on cast changes..."I'm a firm believer that the `Law and Order' audience, in a sense, looks forward to these cast changes. I was going to change somebody this year anyway because it would have been the third year with no cast changes, and then you get into a situation where it becomes much more traumatic. [New cast members] brings a different rhythm and a different voice and a different character into a mix that, hopefully, is very realistic. People move on. People get different jobs."
On Jack McCoy..."He's a very uncomplicated guy. He's not nearly [as] tortured about the vagaries of criminal law that Ben Stone was. He's more straight ahead…a Nineties character."
On spinoffs..."Law & Order was more than a franchise--it was becoming a brand name. So having spent all that time in advertising, I asked myself, What could I do to extend the brand? And Special Victims Unit was one of the ideas. I have at least two others that could go under the brand."
On the controversial nature of L&O... "[Law & Order] has offended the sensitivities of a variety of special interest groups, including, but not limited to Jews, Catholics, Protestants, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Aryans, gays and lesbians, Italians, Russians, Greeks, conservatives, liberals, pro-life and pro-choice advocates, and the list goes on ad nauseum."
On the L&O style..."The story is paramount. There are no dangling participles, there are no runners, there are no arcs. You get a complete hour of television.... I think that's what audiences really react to most strongly. You get into serialized elements, and four or five years into a show, it's getting extremely soap opera-y."

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Cast Comments
Richard Belzer 
On his character, Det. John Munch..."Munch is the guy who says what a lot of people wouldn't dare say."

What the series is about..."There's a division in most major police departments called, 'Special Victims Unit,' which is what sex crimes are euphemistically called. They're considered the most heinous crimes, when not only do you violate somebody, but you violate them sexually. So it's an elite squad that takes care of that."

Dann Florek 
On why he's proud of SVU..."I think to shine a light on these kinds of problems is very important and a good thing. We're still living at a time when a lot of rapes go unreported because the victims feel ashamed. ... I think the more we can do to bring these things to light -- we're saying we're all with you."

Mariska Hargitay 
On why she's proud of SVU... "I'm so proud of our show — it sheds light on an area that people tend to shy away from. It brings to the forefront things that people are so ashamed of."

On the disturbing aspects of the show...''When I read the script sometimes, it's like 'Christ! Enough!'' I can't sleep at night sometimes. There's the occasional script that just hammers you, that you can't shower off.''

On his contribution to SVU..."I bring a lot of s--- to the show. I'm the only person on the show probably anybody under 20 knows who they are. I bring black people and ethnic people. I bring an edge to the show, because at any moment I might smack the s--- out of somebody. When I got on the show, it was in the 40s. Now it's top 10. So I brought something."

Christopher Meloni 
On what SVU is about...''The show is not here to say, Oh, we're about sex and the worst aspects of it, and we're going to show you something really titillating and gruesome. You're not going to see the bloodbath."

Law & Order: Criminal Intent - Cast  & Crew Comments
Rene Balcer 
On why CI has acquired such a large viewership..."[Criminals are] a twisted mirror of our own wants, needs, and desires -- there's a vicarious thrill in watching somebody do something you would never dare do.''
On Vincent D'Onofrio..."He's an unusual actor for television. Usually actors on television are low key for a very cool medium. But Vincent just jumps off the screen. You'll find out more about Vincent's character in the first 13 episodes than you've found out about Jerry Orbach or Sam Waterson's characters in the five or six years they've been on Law & Order."
Vincent D'Onofrio 
On Det. Robert Goren..."He has a history of schizophrenia with his family. You'll never meet his mom, but you'll learn about the type of man he is by how he reacts to things. He was an Army CDI (intelligence) agent. He didn't know what else to do, so he became a cop. We're trying to allow him to be knowledgeable about a lot of things. He's the academic type. The detective is not always going to catch the bad guy. I'm not always one step ahead. The psychology of the show is the key to keeping its intensity."
More on Goren..."He manipulates suspects, mirrors them, confuses them, intimidates them, throws them off, changes their thought patterns. He pauses situations so he can return to zero; he catches them out in a lie."
On the show's future..."We're just warming up, and Rene Balcer, the writer, and I are getting to know each other and are telling each other stories. We both are experienced in this, because of my research in the roles I played, killers and cops and this and that. I've done a lot of psychological research, and we've got a lot of things to go back and forth with."
On where the credit for CI's success lies..."Dick is our boss, and the concept of the 'Law & Order' thing is to his credit, and the 'Criminal Intent' is to his credit, but as the show goes on, you can't forget that the show runner, Rene Balcer, is also very responsible for what you see out there. He and I had to basically come up with the goods to sell this in a different way than the other shows and make this character, Goren, interesting. In my opinion, the writing is probably some of the best crime-story writing on television."
Dick Wolf 
On why the spinoff is a success..."I think there's a huge appetite for the show. This is a brand. It's Coke, Diet Coke, Diet Coke without caffeine, Cherry Coke. As long as we don't screw up one of the brand extensions, the brand remains intact."

TUC= Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion, Kevin Courrier & Susan Green
No Law & Order fan should be without it!
(We are not affiliated in any way with the authors or publisher of this book)