10/14/2015 (09:00PM – 10:00PM) (Wednesday) : THE NYPD FALLS UNDER SEIGE AFTER THE SHOOTING OF AN UNARMED BLACK MAN
In the pursuit of an SVU rape suspect, detectives from another precinct shoot and kill an unarmed black man. As racial tensions rise in the city, Barba (Raúl Esparza) is tasked to indict three officers who claim they had no choice but to follow police procedure. Starring Mariska Hargitay (Sgt. Olivia Benson), Ice T (Det. Odafin Tutuola), Kelli Giddish (Det. Amanda Rollins) and Peter Scanavino (Det. Sonny Carisi). Guest starring Scott William Winters (Det. Robert “Doom” Dumas), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Capt. Reese), Dashiell Eaves (Sgt. Kevin Donlan), Josh Pais (Hank Abraham), Daveed Diggs (Louis Henderson), Robert John Burke (Sgt. Tucker), Caris Vujcec (Det. Louise Campesi), Leslie Odom Jr. (Reverend Curtis Scott) and Michael Potts (Sgt. Draper).
Seventeen years in and Law & Order: SVU is doing something it’s never done before when it writes in Kelli Giddish’s real-life pregnancy in as the character’s pregnancy. Yup, no character has never been pregnant before.
“[Mariska Hargitay] had somebody come in…I looked it up—I looked up when I first got pregnant what other TV shows did and…I guess on The X-Files, she went away. She got abducted by aliens,” Giddish said with a laugh. “So I was like, ‘That can’t happen on SVU. Can’t pitch that idea.'”
So Giddish’s Amanda Rollins, a dedicated detective with a gambling addiction that has caused her quite a few problems, will be pregnant. “I feel so comfortable in their hands,” Giddish said of the writers.
Rollins learned she was pregnant in the two-hour season 17 premiere. Dallas Roberts’ Dr. Yates said he smells it, the pregnancy, on her. “It’s creepy, right?” Giddish said. Last season, her character revealed she was a survivor of sexual assault and took some time off. With the gambling addiction and her haunted past, Rollins has had quite a journey, the baby is just another leg.
“Well, now she’s got another challenge. This one is more natural, or better, I guess, than the gambling addiction,” she said. “What’s going to be really fun is getting to see who the father is—I do know. I got to pick…I kind of did, yeah. I was like, it can’t be Danny [Pino], that would mean he would have three baby mamas. He’s got two kids from two different mamas!”
In the premiere, Rollins tells Benson her mom will come to town, along with her troubled sister. Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen will play her mother in episode six of the season. Will the pregnancy sideline Rollins? Eventually, Benson told her in the premiere.
“Look, I know you’re going to fight me on this, but as soon as the department hears, they’re going to put you on restricted duty,” Benson told Rollins.
“Can we wait to tell them? I just want to work until the last minute,” Rollins asked.
“I know what a hard worker you are. That’s a really good thing because being a single mom is, is not easy,” Benson said.
“Well, I may not be on my own. My mom, actually, might move up to New York,” Rollins revealed.
“Good! Good. I want you to know I’m really happy for you. If you want or need to talk about anything, I’m here,” Benson said.
Hargitay’s Benson recently became a single mom to baby Noah, officially adopting her foster son at the end of season 16. The two women, who have had their differences before, have formed a tighter bond, something Giddish said she’s “absolutely” looking forward to exploring. “Two women don’t always have to be at each others throats. They can get along every now and then,” she said.
And there’s been more bonding going on off-screen too. Giddish revealed her baby news to Ice-T’s wife Coco Austin. The couple is also expecting.
“They had the secret. They knew the secret before anybody knew,” Ice said. “Those two, she shared with Coco first and then slowly started to seep out.”
As for what she’s hoping for, Giddish summed it up succinctly: “Health. I hope he’s healthy,” she said. “And in real life. That’s all you care about.”
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays, 9 p.m. on NBC.
Showrunner Warren Leight talks to THR about his decision not to hide actress Kelli Giddish’s pregnancy, how Rollins’ relationship with Benson will change and why Amaro is not the father.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the two-hour season 17 premiere of Law & Order: SVU.]
The special victims unit is expanding this season – and not just with the addition of the new sergeant. The two-hour season premiere of Law & Order: SVU revealed that Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish) is expecting her first child, just like Giddish herself.
“I guess its just a coincidence that there are now two single moms in the squad room,” showrunner Warren Leight tells The Hollywood Reporter, “except on my stage, three of my five recurring actors are going to have kids in the next four months and you would say that’s an impossible coincidence.” (Giddish’s co-stars Ice-T and Peter Scanavino also have kids on the way.)
Although Giddish’s baby news had been out for some time, the reveal about Rollins’ unplanned pregnancy was still surprising given the recent exit of her on-and-off fling Amaro (Danny Pino) as well as her struggle to overcome her gambling and alcohol addictions in recent seasons. Leight spoke with THR about how Rollins’ life will change, how motherhood will alter her dynamic with Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and why Amaro is not the father.
Why did you decide to make Rollins pregnant?
I didn’t want to have deal with fern plants in front of her and fax machines and file folders. … I just thought we would play the reality of what happens to a working detective who finds herself pregnant and how does she adjust to it. Obviously for Kelli’s character, there aren’t a lot of people in her life.
Fans waited 15 years for Benson to become a mom so was there ever a concern that this would be too soon after Olivia adopted Noah?
It’s different. Benson basically rescued baby Noah and adopted him, and Amanda’s at an age where if you do get pregnant, you’re not cavalier about it. You’re just at the point where you go to the doctor, the doctor says, “I have to tell you this is less likely to happen as you get older,” and you start getting those speeches. So I just decided, OK, Amanda will figure it out. And we will find out who the father is at some point early on in the season, and this is her choice. I thought, either we hide the pregnancy, which was hard to do because we had a three-month break between episodes three and four, so that was just going to look ridiculous. It just seemed like, [she could] deal with it. In real life, it happens. I’ve had a number of friends in real life have this happen to them. They didn’t see it coming and they make the best of it. The first thing she does is to tell her boss, “It’s not going to affect me at work in any way. I’m fine.”
Detective Amaro may be gone fromLaw & Order: SVU, but there are still many more changes to come.
Although Danny Pino’s exit from the series will not be discussed laboriously in the two-hour Season 17 premiere (Wednesday at 9/8c, NBC), the emotional weight of Amaro’s loss will be felt through the first several episodes of the new season, particularly by Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Rollins (Kelli Giddish).
“We don’t get an immediate replacement,” executive producer Warren Leight tells TVGuide.com. “So, the first quarter of the season we’re dealing with people scrambling and trying to stay afloat. This guy was a rock in the department. He was there emotionally for Benson and Rollins — and at times physically for Rollins — so they’re both missing him. We don’t have people moaning about it, but you sense that it’s changed the rhythm.”
And that sense of change will seep into all the characters’ lives this season. “This year is about transitions,” Leight says. “Where everyone is at the beginning of the season is not where they’ll be at the end. A show in its 17th year cannot be static.”
Although Benson already made one transition at the end of last season when she formally adopted baby Noah, in the new season, after passing the lieutenant’s exam, she will be forced to hire a new sergeant. “One thing we’ll see early on is a lot of be careful what you wish for,” Leight says. “You take the lieutenant’s exam and pass, and suddenly you have to be more political in your job than you’ve had to be in the past. That’s not her strong suit.”
Indeed, the hiring of Benson’s new No. 2 becomes completely political when Deputy Chief William Dodds (Peter Gallagher) assigns his own son (guest star Andy Karl) to the SVU squad, much to the chagrin of Finn (Ice-T), Rollins and Carisi (Peter Scanavino). “These three detectives will have to have a new boss who doesn’t know anything about the job they do,” Leight says. “Finn has been there 17 years and will deal with someone who just got there giving him orders. Nobody likes to be told they’re doing their job wrong. He seeks a certain amount of autonomy, and that may be called into question.”
Before those changes are felt, however, the team must solve a tricky case involving serial killer Greg Yates (Dallas Roberts), who, despite being in jail, is suspected in another murder. Did the cops miss one of his victims or is a copycat on the loose? Although some of this story is inspired by the suspected crimes of Robert Durst highlighted on The Jinx (“There is no burping in this episode,” Leight quips), it becomes a psychological thriller between Yates and Rollins.
“Yates had a strange, disturbing relationship with Rollins and that continues in the two-parter,” Leight says. “How involved was he in this murder, if at all? Does he know anything about it? He wants Rollins to know he’s innocent of this one but that he also might be able to solve it. How deep into the rabbit hole of Yates’ sick mind does Rollins go? Yates throws a good deal of believable evidence in the direction of someone we deal with pretty often. So, we’re now investigating a guy involved in law enforcement in the city at the request of a serial killer. Do you trust a serial killer when he drops a dime on someone you work with?”
Regardless of the outcome of the case, viewers can expect some major upheaval in Rollins’ personal life. Could that mean the show is writing Giddish’s real-life pregnancy into the show? “By the end of the premiere you’ll know part of the answer to that question,” Leight teases, adding that much of Rollins’ drama this season will come from other aspects of her family — namely the return of her sister (Lindsay Pulsipher) and the introduction of her mother (Virginia Madsen). “Even if their intent is to be supportive, and I’m not even sure it is, her family showing up is not a great thing for her character,” Leight says.
Benson’s foray into motherhood will be equally challenging as she continues to try to balance work with her new responsibilities at home. “Being a parent, there’s always something and it always comes at the worst possible time,” Leight says. “Baby Noah’s first six months were not easy and there will be ripple effects to come. The pressure to do your job and be present for your child will increase, and she’ll be looking at what are her priorities. When it was just a question of taking care of herself or doing the job, she neglected herself. This is a character whose life was way out of balance for the entire run of the show, and I think Benson needs to find more balance, which maybe means hard choices.”
But perhaps the most notable transition this season is another one behind the scenes. Leight, who signed an overall deal with Sony last year, was allowed to do one more season of SVU. After weathering the storm of losing Christopher Meloni and eventually improving the veteran drama’s ratings, Leight will leave the show at the end of this season. But he doesn’t see an end in sight for the show.
“There’s a reason it’s a year of transitions,” Leight jokes of art imitating life. “The last thing I’ll do is leave the show in a lurch. It’s 17 months’ notice. I want to make sure the end of the season is poised to continue and there is a compelling reason to stay with it. If I do the job right, there will be reason for everyone to come back for a Season 18. My goal is not to tank it.”
Law & Order : SVU premieres Wednesday at 9/8c on NBC.
Broadway actor Andy Karl, who has appeared in Jersey Boys and earned a Tony nomination for his headlining role in Rocky the Musical, will guest-star as Sgt. Mike Dodds, the son of Deputy Chief William Dodds (guest star Peter Gallagher). He will serve as No. 2 to acting commander Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay).
So, what does that mean for Finn (Ice T), Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Carisi (Peter Scanavino)? Leaving aside the obvious nepotism of Dodds’ son getting the job, the squad will have trouble taking orders from the new guy.
“Finn has evidenced no desire to move up, Rollins still hasn’t earned the trust of Benson, and Carisi just got there,” executive producer Warren Leight tells TVGuide.com “It doesn’t look like someone is going to pick up the slack, which mean these three detectives will have to have a new boss who doesn’t know anything about the job they do. Finn has been there 17 years and will deal with someone who just got there giving him orders.. It’ll be interesting watching the squad adapt or not adapt.”
Karl, whose other Broadway credits include Wicked, Legally Blonde and Saturday Night Fever, will make his first appearance in an October episode.
Law & Order: SVU’s two-hour Season 17 opener premieres Wednesday at 9/8c on NBC.
Law & Order: SVU‘s 17th season kicks off Wednesday with a two-hour premiere, a nod to HBO’s The Jinx and executive producer Warren Leight‘s fifth year at the head of the seemingly unstoppable crime drama.
“When I came on, it was after [executive producer] Neal Baer was leaving and Chris Meloni was leaving, so everybody looked at me like, ‘Here’s the guy they got to board the Titanic after the iceberg hit,’” he says, chuckling. “I’m glad that we’ve stayed afloat for five more years.”
In advance of the series’ return (9/8c, NBC), we talked with Leight about Olivia’s aspirations, Rollins’ vulnerability, Amaro’s absence and — of course — Donald Trump. Read on for more.
TVLINE | Greg Yates returns in the two-hour season premiere, and you’ve said that he’s really going to mess with Rollins, in particular.
Rollins always gets in to the head of these psychos. There’s something off about Rollins. She relates to these guys and get into their head, but the other question is: Is he getting into her head? That’s the setup — whether or not he’s telling the truth. Even when we think we know the answer to that, there’s a few more tricks and turns.
About four months ago we asked the fans on Twitter if they wanted a weepy sort of premiere or a sick, twisted, disturbing episode. They voted for gore and gruesome over heart-wrenching, so they got it.
TVLINE | Talk to me about Olivia at the start of the season.
The first case is just a horrifying one for her because it involves… Rollins getting in too deep with some bad company, and it looks like the squad screwed up one way or another. So she’s under that gun. As the season progresses, we’ve gotten over the “Will she be able to keep the baby?” But the pressure is, there’s a lot of political cases coming up, and she is up for this promotion to lieutenant. It would be great if she was able to play the good ol’ boy game a little better, but that’s not her strong suit. We’re going to see her dealing with the limits of her political abilities and what the repercussions of that are.
This season is about transition, so that wherever anyone is at the beginning of the year is not where they’re going to be by the end of the season.
“No one comes out of this season where they were at the beginning. The departure of Amaro sets a lot of things in motion,” showrunner Warren Leight tells THR.
Between holding the second-highest political office in the country and plotting his possible run for president, it’s safe to assume Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t have a lot of time to worry about TV spoilers. So when he appeared alongside Law & Order: SVU star and producer Mariska Hargitay at an event earlier this month, Biden unknowingly spilled the beans on Benson’s promotion in this coming season.
“As Joe Biden said, ‘She’s the lieutenant,’ ” showrunner Warren Leight tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Someone’s got to step up and be the sergeant.”
Just don’t expect anyone from within the ranks to do so, which leaves a major gap in the wake of Nick Amaro’s (Danny Pino) decision to step down from the force last May. “There aren’t enough cops. We’re down a man,” says Leight. “We may be seeing someone new join the force about a quarter of the way through the season.”
Leight talked with THR about the squad’s “very well-connected” new addition, exploring the Josh Duggar scandal and his last season as showrunner.
What can you say about this new character?
Amaro’s departure means an outsider has to come in. Now you’re going to have a situation where there’s a new person on the floor, whom no one knows or necessarily has confidence in, who’s telling Fin, who’s been there for 16 years, and Rollins, who’s been there for five years, how to handle cases he knows nothing about. We’ve all had this happen in life, where you have a new boss or a new supervisor, and they don’t know your job as well as you do, but it’s their job to tell you what to do. … We’ve all had that, and to make matters worse, the sergeant is going to have good hooks with NYPD. He’s very well-connected, so anything you say can be used against you.
What kind of relationship will he have with Benson?
Our guys trust each other and have each other’s backs to varying degrees. Now there’s a new person coming in, and nobody knows how much you can rely on him and whether or not he’s there as a spy. And that’s the question.
10/07/2015 (09:00PM – 10:00PM) (Wednesday) : WHOOPI GOLDBERG GUEST STARS ON SVU
A starving toddler found wandering the streets alone leads detectives to the home of Manuela Ozuna (guest star Jessica Pimental) and another child in grave condition. The police question Department of Child Services caseworker Keith Musio (guest star John Magaro), whose vague and backdated reports on the family suggest he hadn’t checked on the children in months. When the overworked Keith accuses his supervisor, Janette Grayson (Goldberg), of orchestrating the false reports, Chief Dodds (guest star Peter Gallagher) promises to conduct an internal investigation. But when neglect leads to death, Barba (Raúl Esparza) takes matters into his own hands and arrests them for manslaughter. Meanwhile, Dodds indicates some changes coming to Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) squad. Also starring Ice T (Det. Odafin Tutuola), Kelli Giddish (Det. Amanda Rollins), and Peter Scanavino (Det. Sonny Carisi). Also guest starring Joseph Lyle Taylor (Counselor D’Angelo), Josh Pais (Hank Abraham), Yvonna Kopaca-Wright (Dr. Wilder), Josh Mercantel (Matt Sheridan), and Scott William Winters (Det. Dumas).