|Once a co-star leaves "Law and Order," he or she usually doesn't return. An exception is Chris Noth. |
The actor is reviving Detective Mike Logan, the part he played in the Emmy-winning show's first five seasons. "Exiled: A Law and Order Movie" (Sunday, 9 p.m. ET, NBC) reunites Noth with Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston and S. Epatha Merkerson, appearing in their respective series roles as Detective Lennie Briscoe, Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy and Lt. Anita Van Buren.
Benjamin Bratt is featured as his weekly character Rey Curtis, the detective who succeeded Logan as Briscoe's partner. Additionally, Dann Florek -- seen lately as Abraham Lincoln on UPN's "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" -- returns in his former "Law and Order" part as Capt. Donald Cragen. Dabney Coleman, Ice-T, Costas Mandylor and Tony Musante are in the cast as well.
In the story, which Noth co-wrote, Logan sees a chance to get reassigned from Staten Island to his previous Manhattan precinct. He hopes by solving the murder of a prostitute found in New York Harbor, he'll be back in the good graces of his ex-bosses, who cut their ties to him after he hit a politician. However, underworld links and possible police corruption complicate the case.
Most stories about Noth's "Law and Order" exit implied a major argument between him and executive producer Dick Wolf, but both parties deny that. "It was basically a problem of communication," Noth maintains. "The conflict between us has been highly exaggerated. He and I never got together to be able to talk about how I would leave, so all of a sudden, I was gone. I really had no intention of coming back. I'd done five years, and my last year was tough.
"I'm not sure it's good for an actor to do a show like 'Law and Order' for too long. It's a very specific style, and the personal stories are not the primary focus. You bring as much to the character as you can subtextually, but after five years, it wears on you."
Also the executive producer of "Exiled," Wolf recalls "the dynamic of the show" as a big reason Noth left "Law and Order." "It was set up to be older-cop/younger-cop. As we went into the third year with Chris and Jerry, Chris got a bit older and Jerry stayed the same. You need sort of a generational conflict to get drama into some of these stories."
Noth got serious about playing Logan again when a friend, Charles Kipps (who wrote the final script for "Exiled"), told him of ongoing interest in the character. "He started talking to me about all this feedback on the Internet," Noth recalls, "and these Web pages, and stuff I really don't have the know-how to find. He said, 'Would you ever go back to 'Law and Order'?' I said, 'No, that's out of the question, but what about the story after (Logan left)? Just for fun, let's talk about some ideas.' Out of that, this came together."
In his time away from "Law and Order," Noth has kept tabs on the show. "I've tuned into the crossovers with 'Homicide: Life on the Street,' and I've enjoyed those. I actually had the first 'Homicide' crossover in my last year, though it was only one scene. It's always fun to look at some of the 'Law and Order' repeats on A and E and see how it evolved into the show it now is. We were experimenting the first few years, trying to find our way."
Recently, Noth was a regular on the HBO comedy "Sex and the City," and he's also been the ad spokesman for an Internet service. Whether he gets another shot as Logan will depend on the ratings for "Exiled," but he continues to consider other offers. "I have to go where I feel I can do a compelling story and have the juice to get it done. That's what happened with this. Dick wanted to do it, NBC and Studios USA were nice enough to accommodate us, and we have very high expectations."