Friday, September 28, 2018

Why ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Matters

By Laura Barcella

As the show kicks off its 20th season amid the maelstrom of the #MeToo movement, Rolling Stone examines its impact on the cultural conversation around sex crimes.

On Thursday, the 435th episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will descend upon a TV near you. This marks the iconic show’s 20th season — that’s two full decades of “dun-duns.”

Since its September 1999 spin-off from Dick Wolf’s now-defunct Law & Order, SVU has become not only the franchise’s longest-running series but a cultural institution in its own right. The crackly crime drama has nabbed more than 30 awards, from Emmys to Golden Globes to NAACP Image Awards, as well as the bizarre distinction of “best show to fall asleep to.”

But the show’s soothingly formulaic rhythms can’t be the only reason for its staying power. Looking back, its willingness to tackle taboo topics around sexual assault (on primetime television, no less) is, arguably, pioneering. It helped normalize the discussion of sex crimes — though it glamorizes them as well. And as we grapple with these issues on a broader scale in the #MeToo era, SVU may be more relevant than ever before.

As Season 20 kicks off (the premiere airs tonight), Rolling Stone spoke with SVU’s stars and writers, as well as sexual assault counselors and survivors, about the show’s impact — for better and worse — on the cultural conversation surrounding sex crimes.

Mariska Hargitay, who has played SVU’s strong and sympathetic heroine, Lieutenant Olivia Benson, from the very first episode, sees the show as a longtime force for positive change. “SVU had the vision, from the beginning, to venture into a territory that most people shied away from,” she tells Rolling Stone via email. “When it started 20 years ago, these conversations about rape, domestic abuse, sexual harassment and child abuse just weren’t happening. … The calculus is, of course, not that simple or linear, but I know that the show is embedded in many people’s thinking around these issues.”

Michael Chernuchin, SVU’s current showrunner and executive producer, concurs. “We like to think that SVU’s place in pop culture contributed to the positive change we’re seeing today,” Chernuchin says by email. “The public’s perception of sex crimes is changing. … More victims feel they can speak out, more men are getting help instead of coping alone, and offenders are being held accountable for their actions.”

In the public’s view, Hargitay has become nearly indistinguishable from her character, Lt. Benson (who was herself conceived from rape). But it wasn’t until she landed that role and began receiving letters from survivors that Hargitay developed an understanding of the unrelenting trauma that often accompanies sexual assault. “At first, I was overwhelmed,” she says. “Many survivors were disclosing their abuse [to me] for the first time, and many shared how the show had given them a new strength, the will to fight for their own justice, or simply the community of shared experience.”

This realization prompted her to found the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004, with the aim to “transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and support survivors’ healing.” She also produced this year’s HBO documentary I Am Evidence, which showcased the human faces behind the astonishing backlog of 200,000 untested rape kits currently rotting away in American police facilities. (Vice President Joe Biden appeared in a 2016 episode of SVU to draw attention to the problem.)

Behind the scenes, show insiders say they’re careful to present the show’s difficult narratives with sensitivity. Chernuchin notes that his staff consults with former NYPD and SVU detectives, forensics experts, psychiatrists and ex-assistant district attorneys while crafting episodes. Warren Leight, the showrunner from 2011 to 2016, says his writers did extensive research before attempting to dramatize traumatic crimes. When he was brought on in Season 13, the sudden departure of star Christopher Meloni in a contract dispute had left the show at a dramatic crossroads. Leight chose to push SVU in a different direction, ushering in a period known as “SVU 2.0”. “I thought it had gone as far as it could go with odd stories and kinks, so I chose to focus more on the emotional toll on detectives, victims and their family members,” he says. To tell these more nuanced stories, “we talked to a lot of victims and survivors,” Leight says.

Sarah Storm, a New York actor who played the character Bronwyn Freed for five episodes during this time (Seasons 15 and 17), says she took note of staffers’ behind-the-scenes commitment to “spark empathy around issues of sexual violence.” She continues via email: “Working on the show changed the way I looked at what television can do to highlight the prevalence of sexual violence, and to combat it. As an example, before we shot [the episode] ‘Psycho/Therapist,’ I wasn’t aware that rapists sometimes choose to represent themselves in hopes of facing (and presumably further terrorizing) their victims in court.”

The show’s impact on real-life survivors, meanwhile, is mixed, as “every survivor of sexual violence responds differently,” says Christopher Bronson, Executive Director of NYC’s Crime Victims Treatment Center. But, he adds, it can be a useful aid in a viewer’s identifying or processing a sex crime. “For some people, shows like SVU are helpful because it can help them categorize: ‘Wait a second. What happened to me looked like that, and that’s a crime.’” (In fact, a 2015 Washington State University study found that college students who watched shows from the Law & Order franchise were better educated about rape and sexual consent than those who watched CSI or NCIS.)

Writer Virginia Pelley says SVU helped her process long-buried feelings about her own childhood abuse. “I found it cathartic once I realized that I was feeling for the victims and crying for them, but in therapy…I couldn’t cry for myself,” she says via email. Though Pelley doesn’t love the way the show “uses sexual assault as a dramatic vehicle,” she appreciates its take on underreported issues like languishing rape kits. “I’ve seen enough empowering characters and episodes that I forgive SVU when they fuck up, for the most part.”

Those fuck-ups often have to do with the fact that show is, after all, a show. Like most procedurals, SVU is beholden to a narrative formula. In fact, part of the reason it feels so eerily comforting is because it serves as a sort of parallel universe where victims of unspeakable crimes are believed and often find justice. Of course, that’s not how things unfold for most real-life survivors, many of whom never report their attacks at all. Anastasiya Gorodilova, Senior Coordinator of Systems & Training at the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, expresses dismay at SVU’s focus on the criminal legal system as the predominant pathway to closure for survivors. “It glorifies that option without exploring the retraumatizing situations that can arise from reporting to law enforcement,” she explains. “I’ve been troubled by how Benson will strongly encourage a survivor to make a formal report, using language like ‘You don’t want them doing this to anyone else.’ But it’s not the victim’s fault if a perpetrator does it again.”

“We see these very tightly done investigations [on SVU],” says Bronson. “It immediately moves over to the district attorney’s office, and we see the DAs treating the survivor really well. Things move quickly and there’s a resolution.”

For many who report a sex crime, things play out far less seamlessly, as Brooklyn-based Alison Turkos discovered when she reported to the NYPD’s Special Victims Division last year. “My experience has been nothing but horrific,” Turkos says. “The show gives this false idea that [the detectives] immediately care about you. They rush through the doors and the wind is blowing in their hair, like, ‘Something traumatic just happened to this victim. Do you need water? Do you want a can of soda? What can I do for you?’ And that doesn’t happen. I literally had to be escorted by four officers from the bed where I had my forensic kit done to … the back of a police car, like I was a criminal.”

Turkos hopes viewers will watch the show with the covert understanding that it’s a “double-edged sword” that’s “both actively participating in rape culture and bringing it into primetime [as conversation fodder].”

SVU’s take on the standard women-in-danger story line — a primetime staple since Dragnet moved from radio to TV in 1951 — “has inherent drama,” according to Jennifer L. Pozner, media critic and author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV. “Watching something that reinforces many people’s deepest fears will get a guaranteed audience.”

Media representation matters. It plays into how we see the world and our place in it. Seeing graphic depictions of crimes against women played out over and over again — even if the victims eventually find justice — can do a number on the psyche, says Pozner. “Many viewers … start to internalize the notion that sexual violence is inevitable,” she explains. “Even though you’re saying on the surface, through Benson, ‘This isn’t your fault,’ [the show is often] saying through every other character… that it actually is the victim’s fault, because why did she go to this place, or why did she trust that guy, or why did she wear that [outfit]?”

But the biggest problem Pozner sees with SVU is what she calls “a bait and switch between text and subtext.” In other words, the victims’-rights spin that stars and execs slap on the franchise does not always comport with its underlying messages. “[They use] nice progressive language so they can feel good about themselves,” Pozner says. “But the subtext comes through in cinematography choices. In the beginning of each episode, before the ‘dun-dun,’ there’s always a shot where you see the assault or you see the aftermath of the assault in a very lurid way.”

“The camera angles focus on close-ups of eyes and mouths in trauma, pain, and fear,” she continues. “The dress that’s ripped so it’s sexy, though it’s also supposed to be scary — this is not the way sexual assaults should be filmed if you want to portray sexual assaults as a problem. This is the way sexual assault is filmed if you want to portray it as titillating.”

Still, Pozner praises Olivia Benson’s character as someone “who mostly…believes victims and who regularly tries to get DAs to take victims seriously.” (Turkos jokes that “Olivia could’ve solved [my case] in 60 minutes, including commercial.”)

Hargitay, who is now directing and producing for SVU as well as acting, notes that the show’s writers today are “more determined than ever, not only to authentically reflect events, but also to represent current cultural attitudes and how they can add layers of complexity” into issues like rape culture, affirmative consent, victim blaming and more.

Bronson of the Crime Victims Treatment Center chalks up society’s increased propensity for talking about these subjects to campaigns like the #MeToo movement, as well as, yes, SVU: “The tone is different than it was even 10 years ago in terms of discussing sexual violence, victimization, or trauma. [SVU] has some hits; they have some misses. But overall, I think it has done a magnificent job of bringing sexual violence into the public discourse.”

Mariska Hargitay Opens Up About Her Future On ‘Law & Order: SVU’


With Law & Order: Special Victims Unit entering its 20th season this past week, many are wondering when the show or the show’s star Mariska Hargitay will call it quits as NBC’s Robert Greenblatt has said that the show would continue for as long as Hargitay wanted to do it.

Luckily for fans, the actress has no plans for her time as Olivia Benson to come to an end just yet. “I’ve really given myself sort of the respect or honor to take it year by year,” she said.

“With [Raúl Esparza] leaving I was so scared, as I always am with any big change, but it always pushes me, just like in life when we get out of our comfort zone. And that has been so thrilling, all good things come when we’re out of our comfort zone. That’s what keeps me so incredibly invested.

I’m just trying to go a little bit deeper every day and I’m not done yet, because there’s still so much to mine,” Hargitay added.

“Acting is what I love. I’m still engaged—and everyone is. We’re all super committed,” Hargitay said. “We’re like a little acting troupe…we all help each other. It’s a team.”

Of course, playing the same character on Law & Order: SVU for 20 seasons hasn’t been boring for the actress as she has put on the director’s hat a time or two, and is excited to do so again this season.  “I was just told, which I am very excited about, that Philip will have a big role in the episode that I direct, so that should be a challenge,” she joked.

“I’m very excited. For me, it is so challenging to direct, because it’s using a completely different part of your brain. I get scared and excited and I’m very much out of my comfort zone, in certain ways, and very much in my comfort zone in other ways,” Hargitay added.

Mariska Hargitay on Her Law and Order: SVU Future: "I'm Not Done Yet"

by Chris Harnick                    

She may have an ideal ending in mind for Olivia Benson, but that doesn't mean Mariska Hargitay is ready to say goodbye to Law and Order: SVU just yet. Former NBC boss Robert Greenblatt previously said SVU would continue as long as Hargitay wanted to do it.

"I've really given myself sort of the respect or honor to take it year by year," Hargitay told E! News recently.

Season 19 rolled around and there was a new energy to the series with showrunner Michael Chernuchin and cast members, including Philip Winchester.

"With [Raúl Esparza] leaving I was so scared, as I always am with any big change, but it always pushes me, just like in life when we get out of our comfort zone. And that has been so thrilling, all good things come when we're out of our comfort zone. That's what keeps me so incredibly invested. I'm just trying to go a little bit deeper every day and I'm not done yet, because there's still so much to mine," Hargitay said.

With season 20, Hargitay and Winchester have gotten to go deeper with their characters, Benson and ADA Stone, she said. "Acting is what I love. I'm still engaged—and everyone is. We're all super committed," Hargitay said. "We're like a little acting troupe…we all help each other. It's a team."

Acting may be what she loves, but Hargitay also has a knack for stepping behind the camera. She'll do so once again and direct this season of SVU. "I was just told, which I am very excited about, that Philip will have a big role in the episode that I direct, so that should be a challenge," she joked. This was news to Winchester, he said.
"I'm very excited. For me, it is so challenging to direct, because it's using a completely different part of your brain. I get scared and excited and I'm very much out of my comfort zone, in certain ways, and very much in my comfort zone in other ways," Hargitay added.

Law and Order: SVU's two-hour season 20 premiere airs Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. o NBC.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Why Mariska Hargitay Wanted Law and Order: SVU to Tackle Benson's Physical Limitations
by Chris Harnick              

Twenty seasons. Mariska Hargitay has played Olivia Benson for 20 seasons of Law & Order: SVU. The NBC drama is now tied with the original Law & Order and Gunsmoke as the longest-running scripted live-action series, and Hargitay has been there since the start. It's a momentous accomplishment, one the Emmy-winning actress is reflecting on.

"It's just been amazing and a gift," Hargitay told E! News. "And for me, especially, so fresh. We've talked about this a little bit before, that I've been on the same show for 20 years and yet I feel like with all the cast changes, I keep getting to be on a new show with new energies and all these new, all these amazing actors. It has been an unspeakable gift and really hard to describe, and I'm just proudly grateful. It's been nothing but a privilege."

Those cast changed Hargitay referenced recently included the addition of Philip Winchester to the series as ADA Peter Stone. Winchester played the character originally on Chicago Justice and was brought in, replacing Raúl Esparza's ADA Rafael Barba. "I was terrified to come in," Winchester told us. "Because the show is 20 years old, because the legacy it had." But series stars Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino and Hargitay welcomed him and encouraged him to be himself and take risks. It's something that's done with new guest stars too, he said, including those with parts on TV for the first time.

"You see it on camera and you see it in the stories," he said.

Season 20 of the series will feature Stone and Benson finally getting to know and trust one another. "People always say, ‘How do you keep the show fresh?' You keep the show fresh with these different energies," Hargitay said about SVU's new ADA. "With these different things to play, they're different keys on the keyboard that you get to hit that you haven't had to hit before, and that has been so fun. That's the beauty and the brilliance of the writing…"

This year will also see Hargitay's Benson tackle her physical limitations. She's been on the job for 20 years, she's not fresh out of the police academy.

"[SVU showrunner Michael Chernuchin] is such an incredible collaborator, so when he came on we talked about where the show should go. And after 20 years, you sort of have to figure out, ‘What haven't we done,' right? One of the things I wanted to do as we I've moved up into this leadership and commanding officer, I sort of wanted to look at my physical limitations and really go into that because Olivia Benson does think and model herself after Wonder Woman," she said. "She does think that she doesn't have limitations and she's superlative in every way because her ferocity and need and appetite for justice is so profound that she will—and has—stopped at nothing. That mama bear ferocity, whether it's her kid or survivor, she will get it done. I thought it would be interesting as we age to sort of acknowledge and honor the fact that there are physical limitations."

Law & Order: SVU season 20 premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. on NBC. Be sure to come back to E! News for more SVU scoop.     

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The 2 reasons ‘Law & Order: SVU’ may become the longest-running prime-time drama in history

By: Joe Dziemianowicz                  

These are their stories — two decades worth of them.

As NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” returns Sept. 27 with its two-part premiere, fans of the New York City drama are eager to know what badass lieutenant Olivia Benson and company are up against in Season 20. Non-fans may ask, “Why is that show still on the air?”
It’s a valid question. As it turns the Big 2-0, the series — which averaged 8.9 million viewers last season — shares bragging rights as the longest-running prime-time drama with “Gunsmoke,” a classic western, and the original “Law & Order,” whose straight-up title speaks for itself. Yes, 20.

So why has “SVU” and its harrowing tales of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse stood the test of time? The answer, Moneyish found, is a one-two knockout punch: Hard-to-watch stories plus an easy-to-love star equals stunning “SVU” staying power.

Mariska Hargitay, who’s played Benson since day one and now produces and directs episodes of “SVU,” shared her take on her on show last week at a Tribeca TV Festival event celebrating the program. “Very early into the shooting of the series and airing of the series did I learn how powerful talking about these issues would be in society,” said the 54-year-old actress, activist, wife and mother.

Seated between show creator Dick Wolf and fellow actor Ice T, Hargitay waved her hands like semaphore flags as she addressed the capacity crowd. “I gesticulate,” said the Emmy-winner, who had reason to be excited. “We’ve brought something that is traditionally swept under the carpet,” she said, “something that has left survivors in shame and in isolation … to the water cooler and a public arena in a way that has been profound and done a lot of healing.”

And the show did this way before the subject became the mainstream conversation it is today. “‘SVU’ was #MeToo before there was a #MeToo,” Matt Roush, TV Guide senior TV critic, told Moneyish. “‘SVU’ came on the air looking like the (‘Law & Order’) mothership’s unsavory cousin, but now looks like it’s going to break the original’s 20-year record — because for all of its sordid subject matter, there’s something almost comforting about the formula, about the catharsis of bringing these awful sex crimes to light.”

“SVU” also transcends entertainment. It has encouraged women and men who’ve been abused to seek help. “It has been an important way for survivors to know we exist and can support them,” said the spokesman for Safe Horizon, a victims assistance organization. (According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds; only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police, the organization estimates.)

Ashlee Austin, 27, who teaches phys ed and health to Bronx high school students, looks to the show for classroom inspiration. “I use it as a teaching tool,” she said, adding that we need to talk about the fact that “these things can happen.”

For all its pluses, ‘SVU’ has its flaws. It frequently kicks nuance to the curb. “Sometimes it’s just the most lurid of melodrama — and (that) would be my biggest issue with the show,” said Roush. “It tends to go over-the-top in plotting.”

But even when “SVU” loses it, the star at the center of its universe is rock-steady, according to TV experts and fans.

“The importance of Mariska Hargitay as the anchor of the series is beyond measure,” said Roush. Reaching Season 20 “is all due to her loyalty to the show,” he added, “her diligence to put Olivia through the wringer season after season and still keep fighting the good fight.”

Onscreen and off. Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 to help survivors of abuse heal. She’s made eliminating the nation’s rape kit backlog a personal crusade.

The high-profile fusion of Olivia Benson and Mariska Hargitay — Benitay, perhaps — is a mighty force. Asked why “SVU” has lasted so long, Tribeca audience member Kati Lampa, a 35-year-old Brooklyn premed student, answered without a heartbeat of hesitation. “Mariska Hargitay,” she said. “She’s the special sauce.”

Whatever the reason, SVU may soon become the longest longest-running prime-time drama in history: “Every year is a potential funeral, but hopefully there’s gonna be a new baby in September. That’s the goal. Nobody, until very recently, had a goal of exceeding 20 (seasons),” creator Wolf told the audience. “But that will happen. I’m fully convinced.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

People's Choice Awards 2018 - Mariska Up For Best Actress TV Drama
Ryan Schwartz

Click here to vote for Mariska Hargitay. You may vote 25 times per day.
E! on Monday revealed the top five finalists in each category of the newly minted E! People’s Choice Awards (airing Sunday, November 11 at 9/8c).

All told, Grey’s Anatomy and Shadowhunters lead the field with five nominations a piece. Fellow scripted series 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale are close behind (with four nominations each), followed by The Big Bang Theory and This Is Us (with three nominations each).

Of Grey’s Anatomy‘s five nominations, two are for leading lady Ellen Pompeo (who is nominated for both Drama TV Star and Female TV Star), while another two are for the series itself (which is nominated for both TV Show and the more specific Drama TV Show category).

If we may take a moment to nitpick, the Revival Show category doesn’t pay any mind to the actual definition of “revival.” Nominees include reboots One Day at a Time and Dynasty, which are in no way continuations of the original series on which they’re based, and therefore, not. reboots. (Sigh.)

Online voting for the PCAs remains open through Friday, October 19 at 11:59 pm ET.

SHOW OF 2018
13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (Freeform)
This Is Us (NBC)

Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Katherine McNamara, Shadowhunters: The Moral Instruments (Freeform)
Camila Mendes, Riverdale (The CW)
Mandy Moore, This Is Us (NBC)
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

Justin Chambers, Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Freddie Highmore, The Good Doctor (ABC)
Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead (AMC)
Harry Shum Jr., Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (Freeform)
Cole Sprouse, Riverdale (The CW)

KJ Apa, Riverdale (The CW)
Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
Katherine Langford, 13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Riverdale (The CW)
This Is Us (NBC)

Drew Barrymore, Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
Kristen Bell, The Good Place (NBC)
Donald Glover, Atlanta (FX)
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family (ABC)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
black-ish (ABC)
The Good Place (NBC)
Modern Family (ABC)
Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

The Expanse (Syfy)
The Originals (The CW)
Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (Freeform)
Supernatural (The CW)
Wynonna Earp (Syfy)

American Idol (ABC)
Dynasty (The CW)
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation (MTV)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Queer Eye (Netflix)

13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
Outlander (Starz)
Queer Eye (Netflix)
Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (Freeform)
Shameless (Showtime)

The Ellen DeGeneres Show (syndication)
Live With Kelly and Ryan (syndication)
The Real (syndication)
Red Table Talk With Jada Pinkett Smith (Facebook Watch)
Steve (syndication)

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen (Bravo)

Nikki Bella, Total Bellas (E!)
Paul “Pauly D” DelVecchio, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation (MTV)
Joanna Gaines, Fixer Upper (HGTV)
Khloe Kardashian, Keeping Up With the Kardashians (E!)
Antoni Porowski, Queer Eye (Netflix)

Chrisley Knows Best (USA Network)
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation (MTV)
Keeping Up With the Kardashians (E!)
Queer Eye (Netflix)
Vanderpump Rules (Bravo)

Nikki Bella, Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Brynn Cartelli, The Voice (NBC)
Eva Igo, World of Dance (NBC)
Cody Nickson, The Amazing Race (CBS)
Maddie Poppe, American Idol (ABC)

America’s Got Talent (NBC)
Big Brother (CBS)
Ellen’s Game of Games (NBC)
RuPaul’s Drag Race (CBS)
The Voice (NBC)

'Law & Order: SVU' Is Still An Idealized Version Of How Sexual Violence Is Investigated, Says Mariska Hargitay

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which is about to enter its 20th season, has been believing women and fictional survivors of sexual assault since the very beginning — and the real world is still catching up. There's still a long way to go, but the fact that the procedural is rivaling Gunsmoke as the longest-running scripted drama and has never run out of material speaks to its relevance. That was very clear at the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival, where the cast and crew discussed Law & Order SVU's real-world impact, particularly on sexual assault survivors.

"One of the major things I've heard [from viewers] over the 20 years is 'I wish you were the detective on my case,'" Mariska Hargitay said during the Q&A after a screening of the Season 20 premiere. "I think our show in many ways is an ideal unit of how we wish sexual assault and domestic violence was met in the world. Survivors are believed. Period."

Unfortunately, science and law enforcement and our own human understanding of the "neurobiology of trauma," as Hargitay put it, are not on the same page. "One of the issues right now that we're reading about in the press is 'Why didn't she come forward?'" she said. "Any kind of trauma is deeply disorganizing. It scrambles the brain. It fragments memories. These are just facts." SVU gets into those scientific facts and how they affect assault cases, reporting, and consent.

"We've tried to explain things from the survivor's point of view," Hargitay continued. "Which is a voice that traditionally has not been loud enough. A voice that has been deeply, deeply compromised."

At the beginning of the panel, Dick Wolf praised his lead actor and called her the "mother of the #MeToo Movement." While SVU definitely didn't start that movement, the show has helped change our perception of these crimes and bring to light some horrific controversies in the real world.

For example, Hargitay spoke briefly about learning about the backlog of untested rape kits in 2009 and how her activism on that subject (which lead to the Joyful Heart Foundation and the documentary I Am Evidence) started by bringing this issue to the attention of the SVU writer's room, who wrote it into an episode and thus helped educate the public about this problem.

"Cops have told me for years," said Wolf, "the biggest change pre- and post- the show was the percentage of victims who even went to the police, let alone tried to get them to investigate. I think the show's biggest contribution is to tell people it's not your fault." Nodding, Hargitay added "You matter." One day after the panel, survivors shared their stories using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport in response to the scrutiny of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. This is still a huge issue, though it is heartening to hear that SVU has even made a small impact to that regard.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit may still be idealistic in many ways, but we're finally catching up thanks to organizations like Joyful Heart and movements like #MeToo. Wolf's next installment in the franchise is Law & Order: Hate Crimes, and there's no way that creative team isn't hoping to make an impact in the world with this new theme, as well. Empathy is everything, and storytelling like this is one of the most effective ways to teach that.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Mariska Hargitay talks being ‘fulfilled’ after playing Olivia Benson for 20 years (Exclusive)

Mariska Hargitay and Detective Olivia Benson go hand-in-hand! The 54-year-old actress opened up to ET on Thursday at the 20th anniversary of Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit about her connection to her longtime character.

"We merge. We come together,” she says of the similarities between herself and Benson. "I think we’re each other’s teachers. But yeah, she’s taught me a lot.”

Hargitay says she feels “fulfilled” playing Benson, and didn’t disclose any ending she had in mind for her character.

"It’s a lesson in being present and to not be thinking ahead,” she notes of the future of her show. "If you asked me 20 years ago, I never thought I’d be here 20 years later, and I am fulfilled and I love my co-stars and it’s an incredible collaboration with the producers and the writers, so I’m really enjoying it."

After 20 years, Hargitay still considers her job to be “an incredible privilege,” sharing, “With moments like this, you’re sort of forced to really take it in because I feel like I’ve been in this marathon for 20 years. You know just doing the work everyday and our days are long so it’s been a long and beautiful [journey] to have moments to celebrate it."

Looking ahead, Hargitay is content with staying in the present.

"I’m thinking about this year and this season and how to make it the best and thinking a little bit about next year,” she says.

Friday, September 21, 2018

'Law & Order: SVU' hits Season 20: A look back at the many on and offscreen changes


This season will mark “Law & Order: SVU’s” 20th year on the beat investigating sexually based offenses. But while the focus of the NBC drama has remained largely the same for the past two decades, the elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit has not. With the exception of original star (and now executive producer and director) Mariska Hargitay, the drama has survived several major shakeups both on and off camera. As The Times looks ahead to the upcoming 20th season, let’s also take a look back at the stories behind the stories of “Law & Order: SVU.”

1999-2000 | Season 1

Originally titled “Sex Crimes,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” launches as the first spinoff of the Emmy-winning “Law & Order” in September 1999. Hargitay and Christopher Meloni star as NYPD detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler. Dean Winters (Det. Brian Cassidy), Michelle Hurd (Det. Monique Jeffries), Richard Belzer (Det. John Munch) and Dann Florek (Capt. Donald Cragen) round out the cast. Belzer reprises his role from the recently axed NBC cop drama “Homicide,” while Florek returns to the role he originated on the first three seasons of the original “Law & Order.”
The premiere episode is, naturally, a crossover with the original series. The series premiere draws 18 million viewers, and will go on to average a little more than 12 for its first season. Midway through the year, NBC moves the show from Mondays at 9 p.m. to Fridays at 10 p.m. The cast changes begin with Winters, who departs the cast after 13 episodes because of his series regular role on the HBO prison drama “Oz.” The show enters the Emmy race in its first season, nabbing nominations in the guest actress in a drama series category for both Jane Alexander and Tracy Pollan.

2000-2001 | Season 2

Showrunner Robert Palm is replaced by David J. Burke and later Neal Baer in the second season finale. Hurd also exits halfway through the season just as the series adds what will become several fan favorites, including Stephanie March as Assistant Dist. Atty. Stephanie Cabot, Tamara Tunie as medical examiner Melinda Warner, BD Wong as forensic psychiatrist George Huang and Ice-T as Det. Fin Tutuola, who now stands as the second-longest-running cast member, behind only Hargitay.

2001-2002 | Season 3

In the wake of 9/11, Dick Wolf is forced to put a planned three-show crossover about an international terrorist scare on hold and images of the Twin Towers are cut from the opening credits. Additionally, the producers dedicate the season to the victims and their families, as well as the first responders, as indicated in the changed voice-over.

2002-2003 | Season 4

The core cast and writing staff remain largely unchanged. However, after jumping from an average of 12 million viewers to more than 15, viewership begins to dip in Season 4.

2003-2004 | Season 5

NBC moves the drama to Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Onscreen, March departs after the fourth episode, in which her character is “killed” and sent into witness protection. She is replaced by Diane Neal, who joins the cast as Assistant Dist. Atty. Casey Novak.

2004-2005 | Season 6

Ratings tick up again in the sixth season and the drama begins to net awards attention, resulting in a Golden Globe win for Hargitay for lead actress in a drama, and later, an Emmy win for Amanda Plummer in the guest actress category.

2005-2006 | Season 7

Both Hargitay and Meloni earn Emmy nominations. The former goes on to win, making her the only actor in the “Law & Order” universe to take home the lead actor/actress prize.

2006-2007 | Season 8

The drama inches towards more serialized storytelling with the introduction of several ongoing stories, including Stabler’s daughter’s DUI and Benson finding her long-lost half-brother. Hargitay is replaced for six episodes by Connie Nielsen, who recurs as Stabler’s temporary partner Detective Dani Beck while Benson is undercover with the FBI. (In real life, the actress was on maternity leave.)

2007-2008 | Season 9

After first introducing him the previous season, Adam Beach joins the cast full time as Det. Chester Lake. Onscreen, Munch is promoted to sergeant. The drama also celebrates its 200th episode this season.

2008-2009 | Season 10

After years of relative stability in front of the camera, a wave of cast changes begins with the exits of Neal after five seasons and Beach after just one. Neal is replaced by Michaela McManus, who comes onboard as Assistant Dist. Atty. Kim Greylek, only to be replaced halfway through the season by returning star March. Behind the scenes, the season ends with tense salary renegotiations between Meloni and Hargitay, and NBC, with the latter threatening to replace its leads. The two sign new deals in May 2009.

2009-2010 | Season 11

In addition to the continued presence of March, Sharon Stone signs on to play Assistant Dist. Atty. Jo Marlowe in a multi-episode arc. Christine Lahti also appears in a multi-episode arc as Exec. Assistant Dist. Atty. Sonya Paxton. (Her character is killed off later in the season.) The show also moves to Wednesdays at 9 p.m. to make room for NBC’s brief 10 p.m. experiment with “The Jay Leno Show.”

2010-2011 | Season 12

So much for order in the court! After signing on to appear in multiple episodes as Assistant Dist. Atty. Mikka Von, Paula Patton exits the series after just one appearance when she lands a starring role in “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” Melissa Sagemiller fills the void as another new Assistant Dist. Atty., Gillian Hardwicke. Sagemiller, in turn, is replaced by Francie Swift, who recurs as Assistant Dist. Atty. Sherri West for the latter half of the season.
In November 2010, Neal Baer signs a lucrative multi-year deal with CBS. He subsequently steps down as showrunner at the end of the season. Also behind the scenes, “SVU” moves production to New York from New Jersey to take over the spaces formerly occupied by the original “Law & Order,” which was abruptly canceled in May 2010.
With both Hargitay and Meloni in need of new deals, reports surface about the former eyeing a reduced workload. The plan is to promote the Benson character to a supervisory position and bring in a new female detective (at one point rumored to be played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) to work alongside Meloni’s Stabler. Hargitay signs a new deal in May shortly before NBC’s annual Upfront presentation to advertisers without a deal in place for Meloni. Later that month, talks fall through and Meloni exits the drama after 12 seasons. Hargitay confirms his exit with an emotional statement: “For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth. I love him deeply and will miss him terribly — I’m so excited to see what he’ll do next.”

2011-2012 | Season 13

In addition to Baer’s and Meloni’s departures, Wong also steps down as a series regular for a role on the NBC midseason drama “Awake.” Tunie also moves from the regular cast to recurring. The show returns with a new showrunner in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” alum Warren Leight and with new series regulars Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino in tow to play incoming detectives Amanda Rollins and Nick Amaro, respectively. To offset the other onscreen changes, both March and Neal are brought back in recurring capacities.
In addition to a new more “gritty” tone, as Neal described in interviews, this season also moves towards more serialized and character-heavy storytelling. This is seen through the introduction of a major new love interest for Hargitay’s character (played by Harry Connick Jr.) as well as the return of former cast member Winters.

2012-2013 | Season 14

After an extensive revolving door in the courthouse, Raul Esparza begins recurring as Assistant Dist. Atty. Rafael Barba in the third episode of the season. However, it’s a different casting that is met with extreme controversy, when Mike Tyson appears in an episode despite his past rape conviction.

2013-2014 | Season 15

The season makes a major turning point for the series, both in front of and behind the camera. Onscreen, the season begins with Olivia kidnapped by a serial rapist named William Lewis (Pablo Schreiber), who will appear several more times during the season. This season also brings Olivia a promotion to sergeant and a baby, whom she decides to foster in the finale.
Behind the scenes, the series says farewell to two of its original stars, Belzer and Florek, leaving Hargitay as the sole remaining cast member from Season 1. In addition to promoting Esparza to series regular, Donal Logue joins the cast in the recurring role of Sgt. Declan Murphy.

2014-2015 | Season 16

While Logue departs for a series regular role on Fox’s “Gotham,” Peter Scanavino joins the cast as Det. Sonny Carisi. At first intended to be a temporary replacement while Pino’s character is demoted to beat-cop duties, Scanavino is promoted to series regular after five episodes. Peter Gallagher also signs on for a recurring role as Deputy Chief William Dodds, the head of the all the SVUs in the NYPD. The season ends with Pino’s departure.

2015-2016 | Season 17

Olivia is promoted once again — this time to lieutenant. Andy Karl joins the cast as Benson’s new No. 2, Sgt. Mike Dodds, the son of Gallagher’s character. However, he’s killed off in the final episode of the season. The Season 17 finale also marks the final episode for Leight, who exits after signing an overall deal with Sony Pictures Television to develop new projects. Meanwhile, Giddish’s real-life pregnancy is written into the series as Rollins welcomes her first child.

2016-2017 | Season 18

Leight is replaced by former “Law & Order” writer and executive producer Rick Eid. This season will also see the drama hit its 400th episode.
The series makes headlines just a month into its new season over an episode seemingly inspired by the sexual misconduct allegations made against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. In the episode, “Veep” star Gary Cole portrays a wealthy politician whose campaign goes haywire when several women go public with damaging accusations. Originally scheduled to air Oct. 26, the episode is delayed until after the presidential election between Trump and Hillary Clinton. In the wake of Clinton’s surprising defeat, the episode is shelved indefinitely. The following year, the controversial episode — and the many behind-the-scenes delays — are the subject of an episode of another legal drama: “The Good Fight.” The “SVU” episode, titled “Unstoppable,” has yet to air.

2017-2018 | Season 19

After just one season, Eid departs the series to take over as showrunner on another Wolf production, “Chicago P.D.” Enter Michael S. Chernuchin, another series veteran with deep ties to the franchise as a previous show-runner on both the original “Law & Order” and spinoff “Criminal Intent.” Chernuchin leans into the franchise’s rich history by tapping Sam Waterston to reprise his “Law & Order” role as District Attorney Jack McCoy and by bringing on Philip Winchester as Assistant Dist. Atty. Peter Stone, the son of “Law & Order’s” original Assistant Dist. Atty. Ben Stone. Winchester joins the cast midway through the season as a replacement for Esparza, who leaves to work on other projects.

Mariska Hargitay got an NYPD escort thanks to ‘SVU’s’ Olivia Benson

By Meghan Giannotta

After 20 years in the same role, the lines between actor and character can blur. For Mariska Hargitay, that means being recognized as Olivia Benson of Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
The actress, 54, who plays a fictional NYPD lieutenant, says there can sometimes be perks that come with portraying a beloved law enforcement character.

Exhibit A: scoring a last-minute lift to dodge the crowd at a packed NYC event.

“I have the best story for you,” Hargitay tells “SVU” fans at the Tribeca TV Festival at Spring Studios Thursday night. “So, I’m at the U.S. Open and Peter and I are running and we’re so late, there was really bad traffic, trying to navigate through, whatever that’s called … and all the sudden this white van comes pulling up and goes ‘err.’
“They open the door and go, ‘Get in Olivia!’”

The (actual) NYPD picked up the actress, her husband Peter Hermann and their 12-year-old son, August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, outside the Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park last year.

“We get in the car, we jump in, and before the doors close they pull out and take us right to the front door. I get out and I wanted to do like a tuck and roll,” Hargitay says, demonstrating while a crowd of nearly 500 fans laughs along.

She continues: “I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was so cool. And then as soon as I get to the front, they’re like, ‘Can I look through your purse?’”

Sorry, even a celebrity/Special Victims Unit lieutenant isn’t above a city security check.
“Anyway, it’s stuff like that that makes you feel really good,” she says.

“SVU” returns Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. Entering its 20th season, the series ties “Gunsmoke” and “Law & Order” as the longest-running longest-running drama series.

'SVU' star Mariska Hargitay says she's 'fulfilled' after 20 years on hit series

By Rachel McRady

Mariska Hargitay and Detective Olivia Benson go hand-in-hand! The 54-year-old actress opened up to ET on Thursday at the Tribeca TV Festival for the 20th anniversary of "Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit" about her connection to her longtime character.
"We merge. We come together,” she says of the similarities between herself and Benson. "I think we’re each other’s teachers. But yeah, she’s taught me a lot.”

Hargitay says she feels “fulfilled” playing Benson, and didn’t disclose any ending she had in mind for her character.

"It’s a lesson in being present and to not be thinking ahead,” she notes of the future of her show. "If you asked me 20 years ago, I never thought I’d be here 20 years later, and I am fulfilled and I love my co-stars and it’s an incredible collaboration with the producers and the writers, so I’m really enjoying it."

After 20 years, Hargitay still considers her job to be “an incredible privilege,” sharing, “With moments like this, you’re sort of forced to really take it in because I feel like I’ve been in this marathon for 20 years. You know just doing the work everyday and our days are long so it’s been a long and beautiful [journey] to have moments to celebrate it."

Looking ahead, Hargitay is content with staying in the present.

"I’m thinking about this year and this season and how to make it the best and thinking a little bit about next year,” she says.


Mariska Hargitay Talks Being ‘Fulfilled’ After Playing Olivia Benson for 20 Years (Exclusive)

Mariska Hargitay and Detective Olivia Benson go hand-in-hand! The 54-year-old actress opened up to ET on Thursday at the Tribeca TV Festival for the 20th anniversary of Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unitabout her connection to her longtime character.
"We merge. We come together,” she says of the similarities between herself and Benson. "I think we’re each other’s teachers. But yeah, she’s taught me a lot.”
Hargitay says she feels “fulfilled” playing Benson, and didn’t disclose any ending she had in mind for her character.
"It’s a lesson in being present and to not be thinking ahead,” she notes of the future of her show. "If you asked me 20 years ago, I never thought I’d be here 20 years later, and I am fulfilled and I love my co-stars and it’s an incredible collaboration with the producers and the writers, so I’m really enjoying it."

Looking ahead, Hargitay is content with staying in the present.

"I’m thinking about this year and this season and how to make it the best and thinking a little bit about next year,” she says.

Heading into its 20th season, 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' is as relevant — and addictive — as ever

On a Manhattan sound stage masquerading as a Rikers Island interrogation room, Mariska Hargitay acted out a tense scene as Lt. Olivia Benson, the tough yet compassionate protagonist of NBC’s hit procedural “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
“I believed you when you said all the empowerment and all the strength that you were looking for is inside of you,” she tells Lilah, a 30-ish willowy blond inmate played by Sarah Carter. Lilah, who has been charged with carrying out a murder at the behest of a manipulative guru, is resisting a plea deal.

 In its advanced age, the drama remains as culturally relevant as it’s ever been. Despite — or perhaps because of — its pulpy entertainment value, the series has helped shift the conversation around sexual assault and deliver weekly lessons about consent to a generation of viewers.
As creator Dick Wolf put it, “We’ve been doing #MeToo for 20 years.”
To date, 434 episodes of the series have aired, enough TV to fuel a 13-day binge-watching session — without ads. Excessive? Maybe, though anyone who’s fallen under the spell of an “SVU” marathon on cable, where reruns are nearly ubiquitous, can attest to its compulsive watchability. To hear that signature “dun-dun” — or “chung-chung,” depending on who you ask -- is to be instantly hooked. In the 2017-18 TV season, viewers spent 135 billion minutes watching “SVU” on NBC, USA and Ion, according to NBC.


According to the show’s famous opening narration, “in the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous.” In reality, rape cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute and accusers often face deep skepticism from law enforcement.

“I remember reading it and having chills and going, this is it.”

“SVU” has always been sympathetic to survivors. Benson will never ask a woman what she was wearing because, Hargitay said, “If somebody steals your car, nobody goes, why were you driving a Porsche?” An academic study published in 2015 found that college students who watched “SVU” had a better understanding of consent and were less likely to believe in myths about rape.
With a touch of hyperbole, Wolf calls Hargitay “the Mother of #MeToo.” Although she’s not willing to claim the mantle herself, Hargitay is a vocal ambassador for survivors, founding a charity and producing “I Am Evidence,” a documentary about the rape kit backlog.
“Mariska is a symbol of hope,” said showrunner Michael Chernuchin.
Benson has become a kind of feminist folk hero — Wonder Woman with a badge and a blazer, and the namesake of Taylor Swift’s cat. Hargitay grew animated as she described her character’s appeal — a “half-cop, half-rape counselor” and “mama bear” and who will “fight for you in your most tender place,” she said, gesturing to her stomach.
For the show’s first 12 seasons, “SVU” was, as Wolf put it, “a classic two-hander.” Benson’s nurturing warmth was balanced by the fiery masculinity of her partner Elliot Stabler, played by Meloni. Their obvious chemistry inspired constant will-they-won’t-they speculation and reams of fan fiction. But Meloni walked away from the series amid a contract dispute in 2011, triggering fan outcry and a sense of panic among the creative team.
Julie Martin, a longtime writer and executive producer on the series, recalled how the initial instinct was to find a replacement for Meloni. Instead, the focus shifted to Benson as she worked her way up the chain of command and became a mother. Behind the scenes, Hargitay also got more involved as a director and executive producer.
“We were nervous,” she said. “It really shifted the paradigm of the show. But it was exciting, especially for a woman writer to be like, ‘OK, now we really have a single female lead." The writers also leaned more heavily on the supporting ensemble, including Ice-T as the tough-talking Fin Tutuola, a fixture in the squad room since Season 2.

While “SVU” remained a procedural at heart, it dabbled in more serialized storytelling, including a multi-episode arc in which Benson was kidnapped by a serial rapist. Hargitay said this evolution has helped keep her invested: “Now things are so much more meaningful because of all this history we've had, as opposed to these disjointed individual little islands of episodes.”
The latest chapter in “SVU’s” journey began last season, when Chernuchin, a longtime veteran of the “Law & Order” universe, took over as showrunner and corrected course after what many considered a wobbly 18th season -- a.k.a. the one with a shelved episode about a Trump-like politician. While the series has never had a female showrunner, women currently dominate the writers room, and Martin is a principal creative force.
Portraying the darkest human impulses on a weekly basis requires a healthy dose of gallows humor. “You can't deal with it other than putting a little bit of distance, or you'd just be crying every day,” said Martin. With a laugh, she and Chernuchin rattled off the innovative ways they’ve found to portray the same crime — “clown rape,” “table-leg rape.” These occasionally absurd twists (see: the episode where rapper Big Boi is devoured by a hyena) are key to “SVU’s” appeal.

The question now is how long “SVU” can keep running; the headlines of the last 12 months alone could probably fuel five more seasons. Wolf is “absolutely determined” to get to a record-breaking 21st season. Chernuchin wants to reach 500 episodes. And NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt has vowed to keep it on the air as long as Hargitay wants to keep making it.
Now 54, she’s been playing Benson for a significant portion of her adult life. Between takes of the Rikers interrogation scene, the Emmy-winning actress joked that her plans to phone it in keep getting derailed.
“Twenty years later and I'm more invested, having more fun, having more responsibility. I love it,” she said, “and I need it.”
In other words, don’t expect the marathon to end anytime soon.
Kate Stanhope contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

“Law & Order: SVU” (NBC) 20th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, September 20, 6pm Spring Studios

Twenty seasons strong, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is the longest-running primetime drama currently on television. This hard-hitting and emotional series from Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” brand chronicles the cases of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department, an elite squad of detectives who bring justice to the victims of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence. The Tribeca TV Festival is proud to pay tribute to two decades of this iconic and impactful New York City fan-favorite with an exclusive preview screening of the 20th season premiere and a conversation with those both in front of and behind the camera who have made SVU the institution it is today.

After the Screening: A conversation with Creator and Executive Producer Dick Wolf, star and Executive Producer Mariska Hargitay, co-stars Ice T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, Philip Winchester.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T Reveal Secrets of Their 20-Year Law and Order: SVU Friendship
by Chris Harnick                 

The enduring bond between Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T was on full display when the Law & Order: SVU stars stopped by Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Hargitay and Ice are both back for SVU season 20, which ties the show for the longest-running live action scripted series on American TV with mothership Law & Order and Gunsmoke, and celebrating their two decades of working together, as they rightfully should.
"People through the word family around, but after 20 years its true, it's the real deal," Hargitay said about working with Ice.

The TV police officers didn't know each other before working on the NBC drama, but they used to live in the same area of Los Angeles. "We could see each other's house from where we lived in Los Angeles, but we didn't know each other," Ice said. "It was just odd, it was weird, and now here we are together."

"Meant to be," Hargitay said.
Hargitay went on to praise Ice's work ethic, including his advice.

"I've never seen—in 20 years—this man come to work in a bad mood, not be grateful, always ready to work…he's never complained, I've never heard him complain," Hargitay said.

"Also, I think, your gift, he has the ability to no matter what we're talking…about to distill it down to its purest essence," Hargitay said.

"I just believe everybody needs a reference point to f—k up, right?...We're on a set, we're making movies and you can feel bad, but I've been through some bad things, so I always use that as a reference point to be like, ‘Shut up. Relax. You're lucky. You're fortunate.' And then…You know what I'm saying? You got fans. Like, what? You got a lot of nerve to be upset. So, I just bring it right back and then I try to transfer that to everybody on set. Like, ‘Look, we're all very lucky and let's just be blessed, you know? And take advantage of it," Ice said.

"That is the truth," Hargitay said.

Ice said working with Hargitay for 20 years he's learned she's funny. You don't see it on the show because, well, it's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and there's rarely a light episode, but behind the scenes, "she's crazy. She's fun to be with, nothing but jokes. Not even jokes we can tell on television," he said.

Law & Order: SVU returns Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9 p.m. with a two-hour premiere on NBC.

Lastest Post

'Law & Order: SVU' Actress Mariska Hargitay Opened up about Her Family in a Candid Interview

From: "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" actress Mariska Hargitay shares never-before-known facts about how...