Category: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

NBC's Bob Greenblatt: 'We had a really bad fall'

Bob greenblatt nbc
NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt didn't waste any time.

"We had a really bad fall," the new NBC programming chief said Friday to open the peacock network's sessions at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.  "It was worse than what I had hoped for."

For seven years now, NBC has been slipping further and further in the ratings, a painful reminder that the once preeminent TV network had not yet reached the bottom of its catastrophic descent. Last season was particularly bad as the network limped through the waning days of former NBCUniversal chief Jeff Zucker's regime, but this season has proved to be even worse.  

NBC's ratings are down 11% in the advertisers' favorite category of viewers ages 18 to 49, compared with last season. Much of their slate, including "The Playboy Club" and "Free Agents," opened with a whimper, leading to early cancellations. Overall, NBC remains in fourth place in the network prime-time standings, attracting 7.4 million viewers a night.  In contrast, network leader CBS pulls in more than 12 million viewers in prime-time. 

Later this month marks the first anniversary of the takeover of NBCUniversal by Philadelphia cable giant Comcast Corp. Comcast executives have repeatedly said that reviving the ailing broadcast network is NBCUniversal's priority, and they brought in Greenblatt to do just that.

The pleasant and polite Midwesterner and former TV and Broadway producer became a star as the programming chief of premium cable channel Showtime. While there, he launched a string of hits that explored deeply flawed characters, including "Dexter," "Weeds" and "Californication."

Now Greenblatt is focused on the flaws in NBC's schedule.  He was refreshingly candid Friday about NBC's considerable challenges: Veteran shows have been losing steam, and it has been six years since NBC launched a bona fide hit.

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Harry Connick Jr. to guest-star on 'Law & Order: SVU'

For all you "Law & Order: SVU" peeps worried about Mariska Hargitay's future on the show, get a hold of yourself! Hargitay lightened her load after adopting a child last year, but she'll be in every episode when the show returns, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena. 

And Hargitay's character, Det. Olivia Benson, will be getting herself some romance action in the process with a little help from Harry Connick Jr. The crooner (who often moonlights as an actor) will join the show in a four-episode arc, beginning Jan. 18.,  playing an assistant district attorney on the show. Here's a look at their steamy connection.



— Yvonne Villarreal


TV crime drama episode plot similar to Penn State scandal

This season the NBC procedural crime drama, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," seems to have ripped a story from the headlines weeks before the story even broke.

In the episode "Personal Fouls," that aired Sept. 28, Dan Lauria, above, portrayed a successful coach, whose career and reputation were jeopardized by allegations of sexual misconduct with minors. Fast forward a few weeks and it's easy to see similarities (and a few differences) between that fictional episode and the real-life scandal that cost Penn State's legendary football coach Joe Paterno his job.

Ever since "Dragnet" moved from radio to television, TV crime dramas have looked to real-life cases for inspiration, but it's rare that an episode airs before the alleged crime comes to light.

The "Law & Order: SVU" story centered on a high school basketball coach who was accused by a former student of molestation. In the Penn State case it is former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky who has been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor. Paterno and other university officials have been criticized for failing to notify law enforcement. 

The fictional case in "Law & Order:SVU" wrapped everything up with a dramatic press conference where the charges were made public and it was clear that the coach would face prosecution. The Penn State case is still unfolding. Sandusky is facing trial, Paterno and University President Graham Spanier have been fired, along with two other officials who also face charges for failing to alert police about the case.

--Ed Stockly

Photo: Virginia Sherwood / NBC

Mariska Hargitay establishes UCLA acting scholarship


This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.

"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" star Mariska Hargitay is supporting her alma mater, the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television, with a $100,000 donation toward an acting scholarship.

"The scholarship, to be named "The Mariska Hargitay Scholarship for Acting Students," will be earmarked for graduate and undergraduate studies and will be awarded to students "based on need and merit," said principals with the school.

[For the record, 3:45 p.m., Sept. 27. An earlier version of this post identified the UCLA school as the UCLA School of Theater Arts and Television instead of the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television.]


Starz renews Kelsey Grammer's "Boss" before first season premiere

"Terra Nova" is no match for Ashton Kutcher

— Greg Braxton

Photo: Mariska Hargitay. Credit: Will Hart/NBC.

NBC announces its fall premiere dates

Playboyclub James Spader isn’t the only thing coming to NBC this fall. The peacock network announced Wednesday the premieres of its fall 2011 prime-time schedule.  Get ready for Playboy bunnies, newbie parents, fairy-tale characters ... and some football.

Things kick off Tuesday, Sept. 13, with new episodes of “Parenthood."  New comedies “Up All Night” and “Free Agents” will make debut in the 10 p.m. hour following the season finale of “America’s Got Talent” on Wednesday, Sept. 14, before they land in their regular time slots in the 8 p.m. hour the following week. Things continue the week of Sept. 19 with the debut of new drama “The Playboy Club.”

Other new series “Prime Suspect,” “Whitney” and “Grimm” will also debut.

For the football lovers, the start of “Sunday Night Football” will launch Thursday, Sept. 8, and resume on its regular night on Sunday, Sept. 11.  

The full list of premiere dates are after the jump.

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'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' squad gets two new detectives

Kelli Kelli Gaddish, who starred in last season's "Chase" on NBC, and Danny Pino, a co-star of CBS' "Cold Case," will join the cast as new detectives on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

Said executive producer Dick Wolf: "I'm very pleased that we have two amazing actors joining the cast. I know this combination will give us the opportunity to explore the world of 'SVU' with new eyes."

Mariska Hargitay stars on the drama and will return this season to portray Det. Olivia Benson. Christopher Meloni, who played her partner, is leaving the series, and a replacement for him has not yet been named.


What's with stars leaving prime-time TV?

Christopher Meloni leaves 'Law & Order: SVU'

Mariska Hargitay on 'zen' baby Amaya Josephine

— Greg Braxton

Photo: Kelli Giddish in "Chase." Credit: Valerie Zink / NBC.

What's the deal with Laurence Fishburne and other stars leaving prime-time shows?

Fishburne Prime-time stars -- they're dropping like corpses on "CSI."

Laurence Fishburne has vanished from "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Ditto Christopher Meloni on "Law & Order: SVU." Lisa Edelstein has packed up her belongings and moved away from "House." And Charlie Sheen -- well, you know his story.

What's the deal with the mass exodus from popular series?

Fishburne isn't talking yet, but it seems likely his exit was prompted by a combination of falling ratings and rising expenses for the forensics show as it enters its 12th season on CBS.

You can find out more in our Calendar story about the stars fading away from your favorite shows.


"So You Think You Can Dance" recap

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Laurence Fishburne in 2006. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press


Christopher Meloni leaves 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'

Chrislaw Christopher Meloni, who stars in NBC's 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,' will not be returning to the drama when it comes back in the fall.

No details were available on the reasons of Meloni's departure. NBC executives and Dick Wolf, creator of the "Law & Order" franschise, were not available for comment.

Meloni and co-star Mariska Hargitay two years ago were reportedly seeking more money and were considering leaving the series if they didn't get a raise. The dispute was resolved, and they returned.

Hargitay is scheduled to return this season but may not be in every episode.


Mark Burnett brings the Bible to the History channel

Kevin Costner to star in History channel's 'The Hatfields and McCoys'

— Greg Braxton

Photo: Christopher Meloni at 2011 Tribaca Film Festival

Credit: Jemal Countess / Getty Images.

'Law & Order' producer throws the book at new novels

Dick Wolf apparently doesn't sleep.

Wolf, creator of the landmak "Law & Order" series, and its spinoffs, including NBC's upcoming "Law & Order: Los Angeles," is adding "novelist" to his considerable resume.

William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publisher, has announced plans to publish two novels by Wolf.

The first novel, which does not have a title yet, is billed as "a realistic, high-concept suspence thriller about a major terrorist attack planned for New York City over the July 4th weekend, engaging the Joint Terrorism Task Force and a NYPD detective who is the city's last hope to stop the attack."

— Greg Braxton

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Producer of biker drama 'Sons of Anarchy' is uneasy rider after Emmy rant

Katey1 Kurt Sutter, creator of FX's outlaw-biker drama "Sons of Anarchy," thinks he may have driven over the line.

The writer and producer is rethinking his often outspoken blog in response to negative reaction to his rant over his show's shutout in Emmy nominations, which also hurled an expletive at nominee Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

On his SutterInk blog, he expressed outrage over Emmy voters' snub of "Sons of Anarchy," which stars Katey Sagal, while taking what seemed a veiled swipe at dramas such as "Glee" and "Mad Men" that did score nominations.

"Let's face it, kids, we are the dirty-faced outlaws who no one wants in their clean white town," he wrote in a post titled "We Don't Like Your Kind."  "We are too loud, too violent, too brash. We don't sing, have pretty sets or wear retro suits. They admire us from afar, wish they could do what we do, then they pull back the shades and settle for the familiar and safe. They are lazy sheep."

He thanked fans who expressed disapproval of the snub before saying, "I thrive of living outside the love circle. ... It fuels my bitterness, my over-inflated sense of self-righteousness and it makes me a more relevant artist."

He continued, "It's too easy and lazy to be angry" before adding in parentheses: "Mariska Hargitay, are you [expletive] kidding me?" Hargitay, who was nominated for outstanding lead actress in a drama for her role on the "Law & Order" spin-off, has won the award once and been nominated five times.

Many Emmy watchers predicted that Sagal, who plays the ruthless matriarch of a motorcycle gang in "Sons of Anarchy," might score a nomination in the category. "Sons of Anarchy" is one of the most popular dramas on FX and has won raves and new viewers as it prepares for its third season.

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