Comings and Goings in the ‘Law and Order’ Universe

Cast Changes Hit All Three Series

Law & Order

Not too long ago, the biggest stories regarding NBC’s Law & Order franchise were all about the original series that started it all. Specifically, the chatter in the fall focused on the show’s auspicious addition of actors Linus Roache and Jeremy Sisto (thank you to whoever made those choices a reality).

Later, talk turned to the imminent voluntary departure of longtime series regular Jesse L. Martin and the subsequent arrival of new cast member Anthony Anderson. Martin’s exit will occur on the April 23, first post-hiatus episode “Burn Card,” so mark your calendars now, L&O groupies.

News and gossip about the show has shifted this week with TV Guide‘s article featuring a familiar face on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, namely Diane Neal, who has portrayed Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak since 2001.

Initially it seemed Neal would be departing the show this season because she wanted to pursue other projects now that her current contract is almost over. Yet, TV Guide updated the original story on April 17 with new rumors that Neal has in fact been fired.

Unless someone “official” admits either version, we lowly viewers will likely never know what the true reason is. Either way, the reality is that soon SVU will have a different ADA. I was never fond of Neal’s character in the first place — she struck me as self-righteous and quick to make rash judgments. So, I definitely won’t be among those fans who’ll miss Novak, although I do hope Neal moves on to bigger and better things.

As for the third series in the franchise, Law & Order: Criminal Intent — my personal favorite until Roache, Sisto, and Anderson became attached to L&O #1 — will undergo a cast change, as well, but a return rather than a technical departure or arrival.

Actress Julianne Nicholson, who took maternity leave during the first half of the current seventh season while Alicia Witt substituted, will rejoin the series when its 12-episode summer run begins on June 8. Since I’ve always felt Nicholson is fantastic in her role as Detective Megan Wheeler, I personally can’t wait to have her back.

Law & Order photo courtesy of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

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