Will the new 'Law and Order: SVU' stars become Emmy champs?
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has enjoyed quite a bit of Emmy success over the course of its 12 seasons, but will its two new lead cast members continue in the tradition of their predecessors? Danny Pino, best known for CBS' "Cold Case," and Kelli Giddish, star of last season's failed NBC series "Chase," have been announced as the two new lead characters in the revamped crime series. They replace Christopher Meloni, who has left the show after failing to reach a new contract agreement, and Mariska Hargitay, who's slated to return next year only in a recurring capacity.
Meloni never made a huge splash at the Emmy Awards, although he did reap a bid in 2006 for actor in a drama series, losing to Kiefer Sutherland ("24"). His co-lead, however, is a virtual Emmy magnet. Hargitay has been nominated seven consecutive times for "SVU," making her the third-most-nominated lead drama actress behind Angela Lansbury (12 bids in this category) and Sharon Gless (eight nods in this race). Hargitay won in 2006.
If Pino or Kiddish win the top award at next year's Emmys, this will mark the first time since 2004 that a replacement lead performer has prevailed at the ceremony. James Spader joined "The Practice" during its final season, replacing Dylan McDermott, and wound up winning in the lead actor category.
"SVU" is the last remaining series in the once-dominant "Law & Order" franchise. Sister series "Criminal Intent" ended its 10-season run last week on USA, while the "L.A." spin-off failed to catch fire and was cancelled by NBC after only one year. The original series is still the only one in the franchise to win for drama series at the Emmys (1997).
-- Tom O'Neil
Photos: Danny Pino in "Cold Case," left, and Kelli Giddish in "Chase." Credits: CBS and NBC