|Ending a long period of speculation, NBC confirmed on Monday (May 17) that veteran character actor Dennis Farina will join the cast of "Law & Order," while the man he's replacing will move over to the spin-off "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," set for midseason. Both announcements came in advance of Monday's upfront presentation to advertisers.|
"I've known Dennis for 20 years, and he's a terrific actor, a consummate professional and a truly nice guy," says "Law & Order" mastermind Dick Wolf.
As expected, Farina will play a New York detective, a role similar to Orbach's Lenny Briscoe. Just don't expect the parts to be that similar.
"Just as Dick has done when he's introduced every one of the new characters on 'Law & Order' through the years, they've each taken on their own personality and reflected the character who plays them," says NBC Universal Television President Jeff Zucker. "Dennis Farina's obviously going to be a different kind of cop from Jerry Orbach."
A former Chicago cop, Farina has played characters on all sides of the law in film and television projects including "Crime Story," "Manhunter," "Get Shorty" and "Big Trouble." He also starred in the short-lived NBC comedy "The In-Laws" for a brief period.
Orbach played Det. Brisco on "Law & Order" for 12 seasons before deciding to depart at the end of this season. He'll make the move to "Trial by Jury," where other characters from the "Law & Order" universe will make occasional appearances.
"I think Jerry just came to a point where frankly he was ready for a change and ready to take on a different schedule," says NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly. "He's going to play the same role in the new show, but the schedule's going to be more flexible for him. This has been a very big load for him to carry five days a week."
Just last week, NBC and Wolf films agreed to an extension that will keep "Law & Order" and spin-offs "Special Victims Unit" and "Criminal Intent" with the network through at least the 2005-06 season.