LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT Boss on Returning for the Milestone 21st Season - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT Boss on Returning for the Milestone 21st Season

September 25, 2019 by  


LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “I’m Going to Make You a Star” Episode 21001 — Pictured: (l-r) Ice T as Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins, Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Peter Gallagher as Deputy Chief William Dodds — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

As LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT heads into its milestone 21st season—which will give the show the sole title as longest-running primetime drama—a familiar face will be running the series: Warren Leight, who previously served as showrunner from seasons 13-17.

“I was very flattered to be invited back,” he says. “I had been developing for the last few years…and working on the HATE CRIMES pilot with Dick [Wolf, which was originally supposed to be a part of the 20th season]. That’s on a more complicated path at the moment. So I wasn’t sure what to do next; I had another thing that was definitely going, which of course, doesn’t mean anything. And Dick called, and I thought, ‘Well, I know this world. I adore the cast, I love this crew, and it’s in New York—I’ve only shot in New York.”

The evolving real world also provided ample story potential.  “I’ve been frustrated the last few years because the world of that SVU takes place in has really changed a lot in real-life,” Leight admits. “The whole #MeToo movement exploded, the techniques that that cops use to help victims and survivors recover their memories has completely changed. There’s the sense of using rape kits, and trying to [get through] the rape kit backlog. All kinds of things have changed.”

“And at the same time, nothing has changed,” he continues. “You still see powerful men getting away with horrible serial abuse and pulling everything they can to not be held accountable. I thought, there’s a lot to write about. It was kind of interesting to walk away from characters for three years and wonder what their next move should be.”

While it helped that the season finale had no major cliffhangers—the biggest was Stone’s (Philip Winchester) exit—that gave Leight room to start relatively fresh when it came to mapping season 21.

“It’s always good to come in and reset things a little bit,” Leight says. “It’s tricky to me, I believe in continuity. So there are threads that are there that I might not have unraveled [had I stayed], but I feel an obligation to the fans to figure out what to do with them…Some things I’m not going to get to right away from the last few years, but there are…characters who reappear early in the season who we haven’t seen in 5, 6, 7 years.”

Figuring out who to bring back, and when, is its own challenge when you have a show that has lasted more than two decades. “You start out with a wish list and then you go, ‘Oh, that guy is on a show, that guy is in Europe, that guy’s in New Zealand,'” Leight says “We were going have someone coming back to do a surprise turn and she booked another series. So there went two and a half acts that only made sense for that character. The list of people I’d like to see reappear is long. The reality is, some of them aren’t available, some of them aren’t affordable. I wouldn’t want every episode to be like a nostalgia trip. I want to be meeting new people as much as getting reacquainted with old [characters]. So it’s a tricky mix. But, you know, certain people should be out of jail by now.”

The season does start off with a number of powerhouse newbies to the series, including Ian McShane and Ariel Winter. “With Ian, on the first episode of season, we did five weeks of back and forth defining that character,” Leight recalls. “‘Where he’s from? What kind of clothes does he wear? How long has he been married?’ His first day on the set, he knew more about that character than I would guess certain LAW & ORDER detectives knew in the first 12 years about their character on the original show. We really developed it together.”

“I would say that to start the season with Ian and to go to Ariel set a nice tone for us,” he continues. “I think got word out to a wide range of actors that this is going to be an interesting place to work. Episode 5 has some nice surprises in it, too. We’ve been very happy with the cast we’re putting together.”

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, Season Premiere, Thursday, September 26, 10/9c, NBC


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Filed under Law & Order, SVU

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