Friday, May 21, 2010

WSJ: "Law & Order School of Drama"

Today’s Wall Street Journal’s “Weekend Journal” section has a nice cover feature on Law & Order and its impact on the actors of New York City. Here are 2 excerpts from: 'Law & Order' School of Drama:

To play a judge was only one point of entry into perhaps the greatest ongoing casting call of all time. For a record-tying 20 years, the original "Law & Order" shot 456 episodes in all. Its finale on Monday employed 42 actors in speaking roles and 125 extras. Every episode adhered to the same actor-intensive formula: fast location changes, talky scenes separated by the ominous chung chung sound, and crowded New York street life, courtrooms and the like.

The show provided about 4,000 jobs each year, including one-day acting roles, according to the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. Over the years the show employed 20,639 individual actors, with 5,934 of them in speaking roles and the rest background actors, according to Mike Hodge, the New York division president of the Screen Actors Guild. Of all the movies, plays and other TV shows in history, it's hard to think of a single entertainment entity which has hosted more troupers, emoters and hambones……

Ms. Hendrix, who played a medical examiner, says over the years the set seemed to run itself. "It was a formula you could fit yourself into without much effort," she says. "Eight or nine days that episode is shot and finished and boom, here we are, on to the next one." She recalls her favorite line as: "If you'll excuse me, I've got to go pull a javelin out of some guy's chest."

The job can be double-edged. In her recurring role as forensic psychologist Elizabeth Olivet, a passive listener who drew out other people's stories, actress Carolyn McCormick says she received mail from prisoners and others who felt she understood their story. But she lost out on funny and sexy roles elsewhere. "That role has stigmatized me as someone who is smart and boring," says Ms. McCormick. "Someone once said to me, 'I'd love to see you in a play because I'd love to see you change your expression.' "

The article also features a small trivia quiz and the on-line version included a video (below).

You can read the full article at this link (or pick up your copt at newsstands):
'Law & Order' School of Drama

They also include a review of the final episode of Law & Order, “Rubber Room”:
You Have to Watch It Anyway

My recap and review of Law & Order "Rubber Room" can be found here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


Wallyhorse said...

One thing about the Journal article:

It said: "Barring a last minute deal on cable for a few more episodes with an asterisk." If it does go to Turner, it would likely be the same 16 episodes as on NBC this season, and there is a widely-held view that the mothership could thrive on TNT/TBS (I have a scenario where the mothership debuts new episodes on TBS Thursdays at 10:00 PM ET/PT beginning in January in front of Conan's new show on TBS with those episodes also airing the same night following the NBA doubleheader on TNT as part of a "four pronged" strategy for each new episode), doing well enough to make it to a 22nd season and beyond.

janethyland said...

Theres a good article in NYTimes about The Good Wife and how it is stepping in where Mothership left off,in terms of using New York resources,actors etc.

Anonymous said...

Wally -- while there were 16 episodes originally ordered, there were actually 23 total on NBC this year.

Shelly said...

Janet, that article is certainly correct about NYC actors (and familiar faces from the L&O universe) appearing on The Good Wife. Lesie Hendrix has been on, and in this week's episode, Peter Hermann appeared as a judge. There have been others I'm not remembering right now, and, of course, Chris Noth, Christine Baranski and Titus Welliver have regular or recurring roles.

I haven't read the NYT piece, but I do have a point to bring up about what it says - yes, The Good Wife does use NYC resources and actors, which is a good thing. But that show is supposed to be based in Chicago. At least L&O was supposed to be located in the city in which it was filmed, which made it feel all the more "real," I think.

Thanks Janet for letting us know about the article though.. and All Things, thanks for posting this info. It's interesting to look at the impact the Mothership had on so many areas...

Wallyhorse said...

Sorry, I was thinking NEXT season, which was going for be for the same original 16 episode order this season was before ratings brought it to 20 and the Leno failue brought it to 23.

I'd be looking for 16 episodes if Turner got the order, most likely premiering in January and airing through the first week in March, with the balance then airing after the NCAA Tournament (which TBS, TNT and TruTV will have in addition to CBS next year) in April and May.

Anonymous said...

TNT is marking the final (?) L&O episode with a day-long marathon of favorites - there's a list at

The last episodes with Chris Noth and Jerry Orbach are included.

Lane said...

TNT needs to take the show from NBC! NBC is trying to cancel THE BEST DAMNED DRAMA ON TELEVISION (by NBC standards)! NBC is stupid for canceling one of it's highest rated shows!

TNT is the place to be! They KNOW drama!

NBC - Nothing But Crap
NBC - Nutered Butt Cracks
NBC - No Body Cares

USA - Ugly Stupid Asses (LOCI)