Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jesse Martin: Open to Law & Order Return Visit spoke to Jesse Martin about leaving Law & Order, returning to Law & Order, and life after Law & Order. Jesse spent many years in Buffalo in his early years.

Here’s the article:

Jesse Martin open to ‘Law & Order’ return, Studio Arena show
Alan Pergament
Updated: 04/30/08 8:35 AM

I didn’t know how “Law & Order” star Jesse L. Martin would react to my attempt to ask an opening question that played to his hopes of making a film about singer Marvin Gaye.

“ ‘What’s Going On?’ ” I asked Martin in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Fortunately, the former Buffalo resident cracked up laughing at the reference to one of Gaye’s famous songs.

For now, not much is going on for Martin, who supposedly had his final appearance on “Law & Order” as Detective Ed Green a week ago. It may not have been Martin’s final appearance on the series after all.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Martin said that producer Dick Wolf left open the possibility that Martin’s character, Detective Ed Green, could return in a future episode.

“I owe Dick Wolf the world,” said Martin of his nine-year run on the series. “The guy gave me exactly what I asked him for.”

On his emotional last day filming “Law & Order,” Martin said Wolf asked him if he spoke French. Martin said he did, thanks to one of the Buffalo teachers who inspired hin, Fortunato Pezzimenti.

“Dick said, we have a ‘Law & Order: Paris,’ a ‘Law & Order: London’ and a ‘Law & Order: Moscow,’ ” recalled Martin. “So who knows, maybe I could do a ‘Law & Order: World Tour.’ ”

Right now, Martin’s immediate plans are to take a vacation. He said reports that he had agreed to appear in a Broadway version of the movie, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” were premature and that he hadn’t signed a deal.

His plans to star and produce a film on the life of Gaye, the late troubled, influential Motown star, have been stalled by the current economic climate that makes it more difficult to raise money for entertainment projects.

“At this point, I’m still trying to get it together,” said Martin, who is narrating an American Masters special, “Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On,” that airs on PBS at 9 p. m. next Wednesday.

“They asked me if I would narrate it,” said Martin. “I couldn’t think of anything cooler.”

He also sang the praises of his character’s exit last week on “Law & Order,” which found Detective Green willing to accept a manslaughter charge to protect a woman whose life unraveled after he started her gambling habit. Green eventually was exonerated but left the force voluntarily.

“I thought it was a real classy exit,” said Martin, adding it also took his character full circle. “[Green] started off nine years ago as a gambler, so it didn’t surprise me it came back.”

And what kind of reaction has he had since the finale aired?

“A lot of people felt [his leaving] was bittersweet,” said Martin. “[But] they loved the exit.”

He left the show because he felt the need “to pursue other things creatively.”

It made one wonder if Martin would be willing to appear on the stage of the struggling Studio Arena Theatre. He said he got e-mails about the theater’s problems from two Buffalo actors he keeps in touch with. He remembers seeing many actors perform there, including his unofficial mentor, Stephen Henderson (who stars in the Fox series “New Amsterdam”).

“Why not?” Martin said of appearing at Studio Arena. “I spent the better part of my youth seeing shows there and hoping some day to get on the stage. . . . Yes, of course, I have a romantic notion of getting back on stage in Buffalo.”

With Martin’s schedule, it is hard to promise he could make it happen, if asked. But to paraphrase his own words about the Gaye special, I can’t think of “anything cooler.”

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