LAW & ORDER's Rick Eid on Co-Writing 'Gimme Shelter': 'We Threw Format Out the Window' for the Franchise-First Crossover - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER’s Rick Eid on Co-Writing ‘Gimme Shelter’: ‘We Threw Format Out the Window’ for the Franchise-First Crossover

September 20, 2022 by  

law and order crossover writer

LAW & ORDER: PREMIERE — “Gimme Shelter” Episode 301 — Pictured: (l-r) Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove, Mehcad Brooks as Detective Jalen Shaw, Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler, Danielle Moné Truitt as Sergeant Ayanna Bell — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

The LAW & ORDER franchise has one of its biggest events yet on Thursday, September 22 (at 8/7c), as LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, and LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME collide for “Gimme Shelter.” (For one night only, OC will kick off the night, followed by SVU, and concluding with the mothership; the title sequence and complete credits for the three-hour event will air in during the first part.)

In the crossover, a young girl is killed, leading LAW & ORDER’s Detective Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) to team up with new-to-the-franchise Detective Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) to get to the bottom of the murder. But, naturally, “the case begins to escalate and morph into something different,” LAW & ORDER boss—and “Gimme Shelter” co-writer—Rick Eid teases to Give Me My Remote. “So we bring all of our resources to bear on this one case.”

As a result, rather than the crossovers of the past, “the characters are more seamlessly integrated” across the three hours, he notes. “It’s not a hand off to another show and then that show hands off to the next show. It’s really just one story that involves all the characters of all the shows.”

law and order crossover writer

LAW & ORDER: PREMIERE — “Gimme Shelter” — Episode 24003 — Pictured: (l-r) Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon, Danielle Moné Truitt as Sergeant Ayanna Bell — (Photo by: Zach Dilgard/NBC)

Under normal circumstances, the three shows vary greatly in how they tell stories: LAW & ORDER spends half the episode on the investigation and the other half on the legal case; ORGANIZE CRIME is more serialized, taking on longer arcs; SVU is episodic, but flexible with structure.

But because the event was so interconnected, they took a new approach to achieve a consistent tone across the three hours. “We had Jean de Segonzac, who has been around the Wolf universe for a long time, and directed the first episode we did to relaunch LAW & ORDER—and he’s directed all the different LAW & ORDERs—direct two out of the three hours,” Eid says. “We manipulated the schedule [of filming the crossover] so he could direct two out of the three hours [OC and SVU, which filmed first and third in production]. And then the third hour [which was filmed second] was directed by Alex Hall, who’s the director-producer for LAW & ORDER. So we brought in our ringers to create some continuity here.”

To fuse the worlds together, “we threw format out the window,” Eid acknowledges. “You’ll recognize it, there’s still a crime, and you’ll hear the [mimics the “dun dun” sound], but it’s a special event that will incorporate all of our favorite characters on these shows…It’s such a long script [for the three episodes]—I think it was 148-pages or something like that; it was crazy.”

Having to combine the worlds, however, was easier said than done. “It’s hard to incorporate every single character [an equal amount]…there’s scheduling issues and financial issues; there’s a lot of issues that go into all that. ” Eid says. “Clearly we wanted to make sure that the most prominent characters are featured most prominently. And that that is definitely the case.”

law and order crossover writer

LAW & ORDER: PREMIERE — “Gimme Shelter” — Pictured: (l-r) Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler, Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

For Eid, there was also an extra hurdle: While he’s running LAW & ORDER and spent a season as SVU’s showrunner, he never wrote for the ORGANIZED CRIME characters; his co-writer, Gwen Sigan (who runs CHICAGO P.D.), had never written for any of the shows in the franchise.

“I’ve never written Stabler, but [ORGANIZED CRIME star] Chris Meloni knows that character way better than I do, and we’ve had a few conversations about certain scenes,” Eid shares. “When you get actors like Chris and [SVU star] Mariska [Hargitay], they’re going to take the story elements, and the scene, and they’re going to find a way to make it specific to them, in a way that great actors do. We’re lucky to have people like that involved.”

“It made it so that we didn’t have to know every aspect of these characters, because they did,” he continues. “TV really is a collaborative medium—it takes everybody involved because of how tight the schedule is and how fast everything moves. Everybody’s got to chip in and those guys were great collaborators throughout the whole process.”

Helping—and yet also making matters more complicated—is the fact the crossover is “a special event, and it kind of exists in its own universe”…but also has to introduce new LAW & ORDER regular Brooks to the franchise and is kickstarting a storyline for another show’s upcoming season.

“Something definitely happens in the crossover that will affect one of the shows, so we talked about that [with their creative team] to make sure we were all on the same page, and that whatever we set up in the crossover would service what they intended to do for the season,” Eid previews. “We know it’s connected to the individual shows, but it’s kind of a unique beast.”

law and order crossover writer

LAW & ORDER: PREMIERE — “Gimme Shelter” — Pictured: (l-r) Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove, Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson, Mehcad Brooks as Detective Jalen Shaw — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

Though they might not be able to pull off something quite to this scale again any time soon, Eid isn’t shutting the door on LAW & ORDER hosting mini-crossovers in the meantime.

“I think we’ll always think about it,” he says. “And if an episode presents an organic opportunity to bring a character over from one those shows, we’ll do it. We’re not starting out with, ‘We need three episodes that cross over’—at least I’m not. It’s always a really interesting thing to do, and I think it’s really cool to just incorporate the different elements of the universe. So, it’s something that’s always in the back of our minds as we’re breaking stories, and if an opportunity presents itself, I’d say we’ll probably see a, as you said, a mini crossover here or there this season.”

LAW & ORDER Crossover, Thursday, September 22, 8/7c, NBC


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