|LOS ANGELES (AP) - Chris Noth of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" is looking on the bright side of an unusual deal that next season puts the drama on the USA cable channel ahead of its NBC airing.|
"Cable is probably the future. They're paying a lot more attention to it (the show) than NBC did, frankly," Noth told The Associated Press. The network had scheduled it against tough competitors "Dancing with the Stars" and "House," he said.
The move could also put "Criminal Intent," part of NBC's "Law & Order" franchise, in a different and more favorable light, Noth said.
"This may give us a chance to be taken out of that general franchise description and seen more for what we are," he said, a show with innovative stories that are outside the traditional "Law & Order" box.
"We're happy to set ourselves apart," Noth said.
He pointed to the season finale (which was to air Monday 10 p.m. EDT and repeat 9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC) as an example. It includes a personal story for his character, New York police Detective Logan, a hint of romance that's counter to the standard "Law & Order" focus on the case at hand.
The episode separates itself from the brand "without being untrue. It still has roots in the format the show is known for," said Noth.
The series cast also includes Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Theresa Randle, Julianne Nicholson and Eric Bogosian.
In announcing its schedule for next season, NBC essentially concluded it had room for just two of three "Law & Order" series, keeping the highest-rated, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and the original show.
USA, an NBC corporate cousin within NBC Universal, has been airing reruns of "Criminal Intent" that rank among the channel's most popular shows. The cable channel will premiere a full season's worth of 22 first-run episodes next season.
It's unclear when "Criminal Intent" episodes will air on NBC, but they likely will be used to fill in when a new fall drama fails.