‘Law & Or­der: SVU’ of­fi­cers com­mand uni­form re­spect

The Daily Herald - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAC­QUE­LINE CUT­LER

On the screen, they’re deal­ing with the most hideous as­pects of hu­man­ity. When the di­rec­tor yells cut, the ac­tors from “Law & Or­der: Spe­cial Vic­tims Unit” leave the rapes and mur­ders their char­ac­ters en­counter and fall into easy pat­terns es­tab­lished af­ter years to­gether.

The 12th sea­son closes Wed­nes­day, May 18, a pretty re­mark­able run for a spinoff. On a re­cent driz­zly day in the ex­panse that is Man­hat­tan’s Chelsea Piers, the cast fin­ishes one episode and be­gins the sea­son fi­nale, the 24th of the year. Of­fi­cial word had not yet come from NBC as to whether this would be re­newed.

“We’re not go­ing any­where,” says Richard Belzer, who plays De­tec­tive John Munch. “The show makes too much money — for other peo­ple.”

“You know that cha-ching sound?” adds Ice-T, who plays De­tec­tive Odafin “Fin” Tu­tuola. “It’s (cre­ator) Dick Wolf’s cash reg­is­ter.”

Ice-T is play­ing a video game in his dress­ing room when Belzer pokes his head in. They’re very dif­fer­ent guys, but play­ing part­ners all these years gives them a deep bond.

“We don’t fin­ish each other’s sen­tences,” Belzer says. “We just look at each other, and whole para­graphs are fin­ished.”

They’ve played part­ners for 11 years, which Belzer notes “is longer than my first two mar­riages — com­bined.”

Ice-T is con­vinced they’re all play­ing height­ened ver­sions of them­selves.

“Chris is def­i­nitely an an­gry white man,” Ice-T says of Christo­pher Meloni, who plays De­tec­tive El­liot Stabler. “Fin is re­ally Ice-T, if I was a cop.

“I just use me,” Ice-T says. “I’m cheat­ing, I guess. I’m a ca­reer crim­i­nal in real life.”

“He’s kid­ding,” Belzer in­ter­rupts.

“No, I’m not,” Ice-T says. “But to have a ca­reer crim­i­nal play­ing a cop, you get a cop with an in­ter­est­ing dy­namic. You can get a player to act like a square, but a square never comes across like a player.”

Maybe, but many ac­tors over the years have guest starred on the show, if for noth­ing else, to play against type. In­de­pen­dently, many cite Carol Bur­nett as a fa­vorite. She knew the crew’s names be­fore she stepped on set.

By now, this is a fa­bled set. In the court­room, al­ways the sec­ond half of the orig­i­nal “Law & Or­der,” two floor tiles, in­vis­i­ble to view­ers, re­veal spe­cial mo­ments. One reads, “On this spot Gre­gory Hines danced for us 2/4/03.” The late, great tap­per played a de­fense at­tor­ney.

An­other states: “A striped bass blew up on this spot 3/3/11.”

John Sta­mos guest starred in an episode in which some­one was killed with a scuba diver’s knife that pumps out ex­plo­sive gas. A bass (an al­ready dead bass, the pub­li­cist notes) was blown up dur­ing re­hearsals to repli­cate how the knife could be used. Pieces of the huge fish splat­tered ev­ery­where.

Page 19 TV Cross­word an­swer: Piers Mor­gan

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