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September 2, 2015

Diane Neal gives her notice to Law & Order: SVU

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 16th 2008 9:01AM
Diane NealThis is a bummer. (By the way, isn't there a better expression than that to describe disappointment? "What a shame" is just too British to me.) Anyway, TV Guide's Michael Ausiello reports that Law & Order: SVU has lost Diane Neal. The actress, who's played assistant district attorney Casey Novak on the Dick Wolf show for five years has turned in her resignation. This season will be her last. "Diane spent five years on SVU and was a tremendous addition to the SVU team. She is looking forward to new opportunities and she will be missed," says the NBC source about her departure.

Like I said, I'm not happy about this one. Unlike so many of the faces and forms that come in and out of the L&O universe, Diane Neal stuck out. And I mean that in a good way. She had a presence and a passion, which was not only recognizable amid the many others who seem interchangeable, it was crucial to match fire with Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay and the other SVU cast.

SVU remains the strongest and most involving L&O entry -- and I still watch all three of them. Just look at last night's dynamite episode in which Olivia goes undercover into a women's prison and is forcibly -- sexually -- attacked by a deviant correctional officer. You can bet that's on Mariska Emmy-reel submission this year.

Back to Diane Neal, I'm hoping that she moves on to a show where she can get more time to shine. She had a good back story on SVU, but rarely got more than an episode or two thrown her way to explore the character. It's just the way it is on procedurals, even the best of them. Why do you think Gary Dourdan just left CSI? I think he's looking for a role with more juice.

Ausiello mentions the idea of Stephanie March returning as ADA Alex Cabot, but claims that Wolf wants a new up-and-comer instead. Yeah, that would be more cost-effective, Dick. Stephanie might not be interested anyway. She's been doing an occasional TV episode here and there, but more often is out and about with Food Network super chef/hubby Bobby Flay.

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I'm sad to see Diane go - I thought she was really good as ADA Novak. SVU is my favorite of all the L&Os - they only one I really watch faithfully, actually. Chris and Mariska are amazing, but Diane did match well with them.

April 16 2008 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Mcleod

I don't know how many people saw this..but it's certainly hilarious and apropos


annnnd thee part 2


April 16 2008 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

I just can't bring myself to care about any of the L&O's anymore. Yes, they occaisionally have a great episode, but I have to tell you, I am so eternally over the traditional procedural format in all it's incarnations. The only one I am consistently watching anymore is Canterbury's Law, because of the somewhat interesting character arc. But eventually they will have to resolve that and it will settle into the traditional procedural rut, and I'll stop watching that too.

April 16 2008 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Law and Order has always had a revolving door on its cast members, SVU is no exception. But for the number of people in the credits, we usually don't see anyone outside of Stabler, Benson, Wong, and the Captain. I've forgotten that Richard Belzer was on the show.

April 16 2008 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Agree, Jimmy. Cabot's were immense shoes to fill and Neal's acting was always overly dramatic and hamfisted to me. Newbies stepping into a beloved character's roles are always going to find it tough to appeal to a dedicated and faithful fan base and Neal never really overcame that initial hurdle.

I'm not sorry to see Diane Neal go and I'll go so far as to say that I think SVU jumped the shark the minute Cabot left and Neal joined the cast.

she was in the witness protection program.

You're forgetting Dick Wolf's failed series, Conviction in which March was back playing Bureau Chief, Alexandra Cabot. Easy to do as it was pretty easily forgotton.

April 16 2008 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice to see some reporting on one of my favorite shows!

I think Diane does a nice job, but as someone who only started watching SVU when NYPD Blue went off the air (and has since started watching the older episodes on NBC late night), she falls short of filling Alex Cabot's shoes.

Two other comments:

1. I was caught off-guard when I saw a pre-Casey Novak episode in which Diane was one of the perps! (An interesting episode about asphyxiation, by the way.)

2. I'm pretty sure Alex made a cameo a year or two ago in which she was in the witness protection program. It's unlikely she could come back as a DA.

April 16 2008 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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