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December 22, 2014

Christopher Meloni's 'SVU' Replacement: Who's on the Short List?

by Catherine Lawson, posted Jun 21st 2011 6:35AM
Mariska Hargitay and Christopher MeloniIt's only been a month since Christopher Meloni stepped down from 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,' but producers are reportedly screen-testing his possible replacements in New York today.

Production on the upcoming Season 13 is due to get underway soon and, according to Deadline.com, 'SVU' creator/executive producer Dick Wolf and NBC have narrowed the field to a short list of five.

The actors, who have all doubtless just spent a sleepless night in the Big Apple rehearsing their lines, have been named as: Danny Pino ('Cold Case'), Kevin Alejandro ('True Blood,' 'Southland'), David Conrad ('Ghost Whisperer'), Michael Raymond-James ('Terriers') and Rhys Coiro ('Entourage').

Each one will test today with Meloni's co-star, Mariska Hargitay, who plays Det. Olivia Benson on the drama. Both Alejandro and Raymond-James recently guest-starred on 'SVU,' so could be feeling like they've got the edge.

In May new NBC boss Robert Greenblatt said that the network "wants to keep refreshing an old franchise" by making changes to the veteran crime procedural. There have been frequent cast changes over the years, especially with the A.D.A. role, which has had numerous short-term inhabitants.

New 'SVU' characters come and go pretty regularly, and there have even been cross-overs from other shows. Dann Florek's character, Capt. Donald Cragen, started life on the mothership, 'Law & Order,' and Det. Munch (Richard Belzer) moved over from the now-defunct 'Homicide: Life on the Street.'

However, not all recastings have been successful. Munch swiftly blew through two partners before he finally met his match in Ice T's character, Finn Tutuola. And Adam Beach ('Big Love,' 'Flags of Our Fathers') was brought in at the beginning of Season 9, but his character, Det. Chester Lake, never really took off with fans -- many of whom felt that he was designed to gradually write out either Belzer or Ice-T -- and Beach left after only one season.

Producers are keen to replace the 50-year old Meloni with a younger actor in order to prolong the life of the series and to balance out veterans like Belzer (67), Florek (61) and Ice-T (53). With the exception of the 40-something Conrad, all the actors on the short list are in their mid- to late-thirties.

And soon they will be looking to cast a new female lead as well. New mom Hargitay only renewed her contract for one year, and she asked for a lighter work schedule, so we'll see less of Olivia in the second half of Season 13. Greenblatt reportedly lobbied for Conrad's co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt to take over from Hargitay, but she's already said to be out of the running.

'Law & Order: SVU' Season 13 is due to premiere in September, on NBC.

Who do you think should take over from Christopher Meloni? Leave your suggestions in Comments below.

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Butchiemost

replace christopher meloni with jason omara

September 19 2011 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
deanagais

I'VE BEEN A HUGE FAN OF SVU, BUT NOW SAD TO SAY, THE PROGRAM WILL NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT STABLER AND BENSON---THERE ARE TOO MANY PROGRAMS NOW HAVING TO DO WITH A STRONG CONTENT OF SEX, IT TURNS ME OFF!!-----MY HUSBAND FEELS THE SAME WAY---WHERE ARE THE GOOD OLD PROGRAMS????

June 28 2011 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
God Bless

it ain,t broke don,t """ FIX"""" it pay him whatever and let us we the t.v. audience have our show nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 22 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ronald Greenfield

I watched Law & Order through a revolving cast. I like Benson & Stabler but I will give new stars a decent chance to prove their worth.

June 22 2011 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vickie Terrell

No one! NO ONE! I have been a faithful fan of SVU since the start. I started watching because of Christopher Meloni. I first noticed him in the HBO series OZ. It's a shame to see him go. Stabler and Benson are a perfect fit. They have such a good present together that they will be missed. Even though we want them to get together just once, I thank the writers for not letting it happen. It would have done something to the relationship.

June 21 2011 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chip Christian

Too bad Elias Koteas has a regular gig next season. I'm forever mixing the two of them up...

June 21 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kathryn

I think Bill Paxton would be amazing...I love him...he is not "younger" but he is a great actor...if they want to go younger...maybe...hmmm...Sam Hutchinson...not as well known, but he was in Fanboys and it a great actor as well...cute too..do not hire Love Hewitt...that would be a mistake...

June 21 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tuffigirl

It pisses me off to no end that these executives are so blind, misguided and over-payed !!! They continually make the worst decisions possible and then have the nerve to wonder why a show tanked (yea I wrote and told them Leno would fail at 10pm but they did it anyway) !! We the fans love and want ONLY Christopher Meloni for what is probably the last year of SVU ~ cough up the cash and get him back or I guarantee EPIC FAILURE !!!!

June 21 2011 at 8:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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