×

‘Law & Order’ Key to Awards Spree

Hard to find an Emmy winner who hasn’t guested with franchise

When the Emmys for supporting actor and actress are named, odds are good Law & Order producer Dick Wolf will have employed one or more winners on his team. Since its 1990 debut, the cop/law procedural and its spinoffs have enjoyed a mind-boggling hold on the character player Emmy kudos.

Almost half the drama supporting trophies in this period have gone to erstwhile L&O regulars and guests: Terry O’Quinn, Zeljko Ivanek, Michaels Imperioli and Badalucco among the men; Julianna Margulies, Margo Martindale, Kim Delaney and Allison Janney on the distaff side.

In comedy, Christine Baranski and Bebe Neuwirth boast credits as a mob wife and an ADA, respectively, alongside sitcom honors. Cynthia Nixon bookended her 2004 Sex and the City trophy with a first-season L&O turn as a subway shooter, followed by a guest actress Emmy for playing a psychopathic murderer on Special Victims Unit .

Last year, the franchise hit the comedy Daily Double with Modern Family honorees Julie Bowen ( SVU abused wife, 2008) and Ty Burrell (an former Marine-turned-killer sniper on L&O circa 2003).

With an estimated 26,000 speaking roles to fill over the years, Law & Order has offered thesps opportunity and occasion, especially in Gotham where, as Wolf Films prexy Peter Jankowski recalls, “for a long time, we were the only game in town.”

Manhattan’s casting pool, he says, is “very stage-savvy, which means they’ve studied the craft. … They don’t take as much time on the set as people who are green or just there for looks. Not that our casts were unappealing, looks-wise. But they’re actors first.”

Adds longtime casting director Lynn Kressel: “As the show grew in popularity, it was widely watched by casting directors, agents and producers in L.A. as well as in New York. We would get calls from other casting directors after a show aired, asking for the name and contact information of particular actors.”

Thus, a series of three franchise roles for Camryn Manheim between 1991 and 1994 could lay groundwork for a triumphant Emmy via The Practice in 1998. The same year, young Katherine Heigl appeared in an episode entitled “Castoff,” after which she cast off toward a trophy as Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy a decade later.

“Television has a strange way,” Wolf has said, “of assuring that quality prevails.” If quality is a hallmark of the thesping Emmy has honored over the years, plenty of it was born at Law & Order .

More TV

  • Baldvin-Z

    Iceland’s Baldvin Z Crime Series “Black Sands” Added to All3Media Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    GÖTEBORG, Sweden  All3Media is to handle international rights on Icelandic crime series “Black Sands” which, currently in development, is to be pitched at the Göteborg Festival’s TV Drama Vision confab on Thursday. “Black Sands” marks the first crime thriller to be created by Icelandic helmer Baldvin Z (“Trapped”) since the hit series “Case.” Commissioned by [...]

  • Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the

    Ad Time in Fox's Super Bowl Was Sold Out. Until it Wasn't

    Fox declared in November that it had sold all the advertising time available in its looming February 2 broadcast of Super Bowl LIV. But just this week, it found a little more. After holding nearly two months’ worth of discussions, Fox and the National Football League have devised a way to add commercial inventory to [...]

  • NBC Orders Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe'

    NBC Orders Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe' From 'House' Alums

    NBC has given out its fifth drama pilot order for the 2020-2021 season. The broadcaster has commissioned “Ordinary Joe.” It explores the three parallel lives of the show’s main character after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho 'Parasite' Director

    Listen: Who Will Take Home the Oscars for Best Director and Picture?

    The Oscars are just two weeks away, so it’s time to start making final predictions about who is going to win. On this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, I invited the magazine’s deputy awards and features editor (and my “Pick of the Week” co-host) Jenelle Riley onto the show [...]

  • Dazzler, Tigra, Hit-Monkey, and M.O.D.O.K.

    'Howard the Duck,' 'Tigra & Dazzler' Animated Marvel Shows Not Moving Forward at Hulu

    Marvel Television’s remaining slate continues to dwindle. Variety has confirmed that the animated shows “Howard the Duck” and “Tigra & Dazzler” — two of four animated Marvel projects set up at Hulu — are no longer in the works at the streamer. The other two shows, “M.O.D.O.K” and “Hit Monkey,” are currently still on track [...]

  • Star Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi movie

    After 'Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi Delay, Is the Force Still Strong With Disney Plus?

    The issues on Disney Plus’ Obi-Wan Kenobi series are either a minor stumble or a portent of trouble ahead, depending on who you ask. It was reported on Thursday that series writer Hossein Amini was no longer attached to the project as Disney wished to overhaul the scripts. The move led to pre-production in London [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content