'Law & Order: SVU' celebrates 300th episode
BY RITA SHERROW World Television Writer
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
10/24/12 at 2:30 AM
Click here for a sneak peek
Naysayers, stand corrected.
Those who said "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" wouldn't survive the departure of stars like Christopher Meloni or, for that matter, any number of stars from the original "Law & Order," were just plain wrong.
Wednesday, "Law & Order: SVU" celebrates its 300th episode and, while victory is sweet, creator and executive producer Dick Wolf is well-aware no one is indispensable.
The series, which debuted on NBC in 1999, follows the investigation of sexually related crimes into the courtroom for the prosecution of the offender.
"There are a lot of people who said the show couldn't survive with Chris Meloni leaving (he played Detective Stabler from 1999-2011), but I never believed that," said Wolf, creator of the famed crime franchise that, at one time, included "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "Law & Order: LA" and "Law & Order: UK" plus a TV movie. He spoke with several TV writers during a teleconference this week.
"I think that the writing is the most important element of long-term success for any series. That Mariska (co-star Hargitay) is obviously a very integral part of the show, and I'm delighted that she is here and hopeful that she'll be here as long as show is. But I can tell you - and this is not being flip - but when Michael (Moriarty) quit after the fourth season of 'Law & Order,' I got a hysterical phone call from Warren Littlefield (NBC head honcho) at 7 in the morning, and he said 'What are we going to do? He's the entire soul of the show. He's the moral raison d'etre.' I said, 'I've got two words for you, Warren.' He said 'What's that?' I said 'Sam Waterston' and he said, 'Oh, OK.'
"It's just the way it is. I learned the myth of sort of the necessity of anybody when I was 16 and, unfortunately, John F. Kennedy was assassinated and that night Lyndon Johnson was taking the oath of office, and he was the president. The horrifying fact of human existence is that nobody is indispensable, but in television, it's just part and parcel."
On Wednesday's landmark episode, a young boy from Morningside Heights is kidnapped while being cared for by his father, and the investigation reminds Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek), Detective Munch (Richard Belzer) and Detective Benson (Hargitay) of an unsolved kidnapping that occurred in the same neighborhood 13 years ago. While the entire squad races against the clock to find the missing boy, Benson vows to learn from past mistakes to set both cases right.
To make the episode even more special, several guest actors were brought in: One was Chris Orbach, son of long-time "Law & Order" actor Jerry Orbach, who died in 2004. However, Wolf, who is also the creator and executive producer of this season's "Chicago Fire," said Monday his final cut of the episode does not include any scenes with Orbach as Detective Ken Briscoe.
The series is but one of three true procedural dramas left on TV. It, like CBS's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: New York," focuses primarily on the crime and not the messy lives of its lead characters.
It is, however, a series known for its influence in the lives of its viewers.
"Since 'SVU' went on the air, it has been a really profoundly influential show in terms of reporting of sex crimes, in terms of reporting both child abuse and elder abuse, a whole range of topics," said Wolf, who has been Emmy nominated 14 times and won twice.
"Obviously Mariska has really devoted her life and way beyond the show in terms of her Joyful Heart Foundation, which is dedicated to helping the victims of sexual abuse. I don't know any other show that's ever done anything remotely close to this, but then I'm very prejudiced.
"... It astounded police (who said) it took away the curse of silence. And I'm enormously proud of the show."
Joyful Heart Foundation
When Mariska Hargitay started playing Detective Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 1999, nothing prepared her for the epidemic of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse that exists.
According to her Joyful Heart Foundation:
In all her years on the show, the website points out that Hargitay's fan mail isn't letters about her, it's letters from victims telling her their stories.
- One in three women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
- Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted.
- Nearly four children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect. And up to 10 million children witness domestic violence each year.
She founded Joyful Heart in 2004 to help survivors heal and reclaim their lives. Its mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.
For more information, go to tulsaworld.com/joyfulheart.
‘LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT’
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: NBC, channel 2, cable 9
Original Print Headline: 'SVU' going strong at 300th episode
Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360
Executive Producer Dick Wolf (in black jacket) and the cast of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" — from left, Ice-T as Detective Odafin 'Fin' Tutuola, Danny Pino as Detective Nick Amaro, Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins, Dann Florek as Captain Donald Crage, Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch and Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson — celebrate the 300th episode of the drama series. It airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday on NBC, channel 2, cable 9. WILL HART / NBC