NBC confirmed Friday that it had canceled the original “Law & Order,” bringing an end to a 20-year-old television drama that jump-started an era of television production in New York City.
“Law & Order” was on the verge of becoming the longest-running drama in prime-time television history, surpassing “Gunsmoke.” But it appears that the “Law & Order” executive producer, Dick Wolf, has settled for a tie. The final episode of the series will be shown on May 24, NBC confirmed in a news release Friday.
Actors and producers on the program were told Thursday that the series had been canceled, but NBC and Mr. Wolf remained in conversations through Thursday evening, apparently in an attempt to make a deal for a 21st season.
NBC said Friday that it had ordered a new series, “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” or “LOLA” for short. It also renewed “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for another season. The network plans to officially announce its 2010-11 schedule on Monday in New York.
I’ve been a pretty faithful viewer from the start, going back to the Michael Moriarty/Paul Sorvino years. And like the article says, a lot of actors in New York found work on the show. And if you look carefully, you’ll spot some future stars, too; John Lloyd Young, who went on to win the Tony for his starring role in Jersey Boys on Broadway had a small (but critical) role in an episode called “The Ring,” and it’s fun to look through episodes and see people I know or went to school with — hey, there’s Barbara Dana, Tanya Berezin, Nancy Carroll, Bill Charlton…. I learned to appreciate the talents of actors that I got to know through the show, like S. Epatha Merkerson and Benjamin Bratt. It was also great to see people like Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, and Steven Hill, who I remembered from previous roles, on a regular basis and in a well-written show.
The other shows in the franchise will still carry on, so the trademark Chung Chung sound effect may echo through the living room, but it all started with the original…and the best.
Photo from Salon.com