The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion
Title: The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion
Published by: BenBella Books
Release Date: September 1, 2009
The only behind-the-scenes companion to the long-running series starring Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay, the Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion covers the first 10 seasons and gives a sneak peek at the talents in front of and behind the camera that have made this show a classic.
"I was amazed at how much information they have for each episode. … I'd describe all of the pictures, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone. … So if you're a fan of the show, you'll love this book."
"If you're an SVU fan this is a must have."
(Introduction, from Dick Wolf): The inspiration for Law & Order: SVU goes back to the Robert Chambers case, the preppy murder in Central Park, which we did a variation of in the first season of Law & Order. I wanted to get deeper into the psychology of crimes like that, the role of human sexuality. At the same time, I saw a chance to expand the Law & Order brand, to create a universe of characters that would run between the two shows, who have real ties that continue and change. It may sound pretentious, but I thought of Law & Order and SVU as a huge novel, like Dickens’ London. And not only did SVU survive, it thrived.
At the time, the government was staunchly defending the V-chip. I was very outspoken at the time, against the V-chip, but not as a defender of violence. I was defending the right to free speech. So when I originally thought about calling the show Law & Order: Sex Crimes, Barry (Diller) disagreed with the title, and we changed it to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
So I wrote the pilot for SVU in early 1999, creating two intense, multi-faceted and complicated characters, Eliott Stabler and Olivia Benson. Stabler was a typical cop, a family man with four kids. Benson was the child of rape, so to her, working with special victims was a way to right the wrongs of her own life.
We read multiple actors for both lead roles, and we found our perfect match with Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay. Ten years later, they have become one of the most popular and enduring partners on television. I also recruited two familiar characters to join the fold―Richard Belzer, whose Detective John Munch migrated from Homicide: Life on the Street, along with Dann Florek, who created the role of Captain Cragen as an original cast member on Law & Order.
Tackling the difficult subject matter of sex crimes was not easy. The darkness of the stories had to have some light, which the writers provided by helping me flesh out such likeable characters. The crimes committed were particularly heinous―they often involved children and other defenseless victims―and the stories were rich in social issues. Rape, incest, child molestation were regular themes.
By halfway through the second season, we had a new showrunner―Neal Baer, a Harvard educated M.D. and pediatrician who had been a writer/producer on ER. Neal’s background in pediatrics and his talents as a brilliant storyteller were a dynamic combination. So it’s no accident that he infuses the series with sensitivity and a burning desire to cure this world of its ills.
Over the years, we have added new and exciting characters, including the role of the A.D.A. assigned to the special victims unit (three wonderful actresses―Stephanie March, Diane Neal and the newest addition, a bright, young and talented Michaela McManus). Ice-T, who I worked with previously on two series and a telefilm, plays the streetwise detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola. And supporting actors B.D. Wong (forensic psychologist George Huang) and Tamara Tunie (M.E. Melinda Warner) have expanded their roles over time, to give the show one of the most diverse ensemble casts on television. Given the sensitive nature of the show, all of these actors and characters bring their own voice to the stories, which tend to be more graphic and emotional than those on the other Law & Order branded series.