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Big congrats to Mariska for her directorial debut. She has certainly went above and beyond in her role as a director and tonight’s episode proved that. We are so proud of you! SVU will return with all new episodes starting April 2nd. It’s hard to believe we’re two months away from the finale! Anyway, captures are in the gallery.

SVU 15×18- Criminal Stories Captures

Alec Baldwin may have had his struggles with paparazzi, but he’ll be playing a member of the press on Wednesday’s episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

The former “30 Rock” star plays a New York Ledger columnist who appears to have the inside track on a hate crime, but declares it all to be a hoax. Baldwin started filming the day he said goodbye to public life in a New York Magazine essay, but producer Peter Blauner, who wrote the episode’s teleplay, told TODAY that the actor’s public life never crossed with his work on the set.

“I certainly never talked to him about the article,” said Blauner, a journalist-turned-novelist who once wrote for New York Magazine. “On that first day, he delivered a monologue you’ll see in the show, and the key line is, ‘I said my piece.’ I can’t speak for Alec, but he seemed to say that with no lack of conviction.”

Blauner also said that Baldwin’s character was written with the actor in mind since they were “aware” that he was open to appearing on the crime drama.

“We were thinking that the character of the columnist had to be a larger than life … to have big enough shoes to be worth Alec’s while to fill,” Blauner said. “We had to think about giving his use of language some muscularity. We had to think about giving him some history and stature knowing that we were writing a character that was larger than life for an actor who was larger than life.”

With Wednesday’s episode, Baldwin becomes a rare bird in the long-running franchise’s history: He’s the only person to have contributed to a script for the original “Law & Order” (1998’s “Tabloid”) that reflected some elements of his own life (in that case, his run-ins with the press), and later appear as a guest star.

But Baldwin isn’t the only unique thing about Wednesday’s episode, titled “Criminal Stories” — Katie Couric will be appearing as herself, and it’s the first time star Mariska Hargitay is stepping behind the camera as director.

“Everybody felt confident from the beginning that Mariska would know what she was doing as a director of actors,” said Blauner. “What I don’t think we necessarily expected was that she would be completely competent and completely prepared in every technical aspect of directing as well. Obviously, she’s been very observant over these last 15 years.”

While Hargitay will almost certainly direct again, will the show see Baldwin return? “I would hope so,” said Blauner. “I would work with that guy again in a heartbeat. If the flesh is willing, the words will be, too.”

“Law & Order: SVU” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.


Wednesday’s (March 19) “Law & Order: SVU” episode marks two debuts: Alec Baldwin as a guest star and Mariska Hargitay as a director, and showrunner Warren Leight says he was surprised by Baldwin.

“We have an Islamic Indian woman raped, and it’s a hate crime, and it’s on Central Park South so it is a high-profile crime,” Leight says of the episoded, titled “Criminal Stories.”

Baldwin plays a tough tabloid columnist, who accuses the woman of being a fake, and “our squad is caught in the middle,” Leight says. “Meanwhile, he is so discrediting the victim, it is going to be hard to prove.”

It’s ironic that Baldwin is playing a reporter, considering his recent screed against journalists. But it turns out he and Hargitay are pals, and he had optioned a couple of books on Mike McAlary, the late columnist who in the 1980s bounced between the New York Post and the New York Daily News. (McAlary was the subject of the 2013 Broadway play “Lucky Guy,” which starred Tom Hanks.)

“What we have is a columnist who, at a certain point, may realize he has part of the story wrong,” Leight says. “But his ego won’t let him admit it. This is the stage at these guys’ lives where they become larger than their stories.”

Baldwin is a perfect match for one of those columnists, long on swagger and buster. And Leight, who did his time in community newspapers in Manhattan, knows the type. But what surprised Leight was rather than play Jimmy MacArthur as a brazen, king-of-the-city loudmouth, Baldwin’s take was different.

“Alec went the other way on it,” Leight says. “And he took the guy and went under, instead of over. It sets expectations a little bit upside down. I was impressed.”

As for Hargitay, the show’s star, going behind the camera for the first time?

“It was kind of great,” Leight says. “I wasn’t at all anxious about it. She knows the show better than anyone. Often on our show when an actor can’t get there, Mariska helps them get there. She has done these scenes enough and knows how to get there. If they see Mariska knows how to get something, they will let her go get it. And she prepared more than almost more than any director I have had in here.”

Hargitay was busy working on the final edits for the episode, which she also appears in. Baldwin declined an interview.

“Law & Order: SVU” airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Wednesday on NBC.


Although deep into the 15th season of the show, this week’s episode of “Law & Order: SVU’ presents an onscreen narrative that doesn’t let up on what seems to be this season’s unofficial theme, ‘when things can go wrong, they will go horribly wrong.’

The single sentence synopsis for the episode, entitled “Criminal Stories,” is, “A reporter jeopardizes a high profile case.”

Disclosing a bit more, Executive Producer Warren Leight reveals, “It’s really about these old school reporters and their level of involvement in whatever story they’re covering. We’re exploring what happens when they’re so sure of their story that they discredit what our squad is doing and poison the well, really screwing up the investigation.”

This particular ‘old school’ reporter, Jimmy MacArthur, will be portrayed by veteran actor Alec Baldwin.

Certainly ‘SVU’ has had its share of high profile guest stars, but Baldwin may be the most decorated thespian to appear on the show. He’s been nominated for an Oscar, taken home three Golden Globes, two Emmys and six individual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

His inclusion in this episode, given Baldwin’s clearly stated disdain for the media, might be considered controversially by some but was a non-issue for Leight and everyone else at ‘SVU.’ In fact, his casting in this role seems to have been fated to be as Leight explained how it transpired, saying, “What’s funny is his name has come up apparently every year and it could never be worked out for him to be on the show for whatever reason. I’d been toying with this idea based in part on these well-known big old Irish columnists in New York and his name came up again. So, I called him up and I got about twelve words into the description of the episode and the role and it turns out he had also been very interested in these columnists. At one point he’d actually optioned a book about one of them to try to produce as a movie with him playing a character from that world. So we were on common ground pretty quickly.”

Helping broker the deal with Baldwin was ‘SVU’ star Mariska Hargitay. “We knew he wanted to work with Mariska, and I just knew that if he was going to do an episode, this was the one he should really be in,” explains Leight. “So Mariska stepped in and kind of facilitated the negotiations a bit.”

Leight goes on to reveal that “It certainly helped that he and Mariska are close friends and that Mariska was directing this episode as well.”

Yes, Hargitay has stepped behind the camera to take on her first stint as an ‘SVU’ director.

I spoke with Leight just as Hargitay was wrapping up the on-set portion of this episode.

“She’s been great,” said Leight, clearly beaming at the work his leading lady was doing in her new role, was also quick to say, “No one here was surprised by that. As an actor, we’ve all watched her all this time and every day that she’s on set, she’s always doing a lot of work on individual scenes in every episode. She’s always had this amazing sense of how to nurture other actors and help them get to their best performance.”

Truth be told, I’ve been on the ‘SVU’ set several times when Hargitay had no idea I was there (so this was not ‘showing off for the reporter’), and I’ve been privileged to witness her work with day players first hand. I’ve seen many show leads who never take a moment to even introduce themselves to these actors, who are asked to come in and play an integral part of an episode, treating them as though they’re rather unimportant. Much to the contrary, on numerous occasions, I’ve seen Hargitay, whose very presence is enough to unnerve the most gifted actor because of her stature within the industry, cheerily introduce herself with an outstretched hand and then proceed to discuss with the actor how they should best work together to elevate the scene, a process which clearly yields excellent results.

While her work as an actor on the show certainly informed her sensibilities as a director, Leight explained that while the transition seemed natural for the cast and crew, Hargitay, even with all her experience, was, “probably more anxious about it than any of us were.”

Leight for his part as showrunner had a few issues to work out to make the actor-director hyphenate position work for Hargitay and still keep the show on track. “The process isn’t just as simple as she steps in and directs for the eight day shoot,” clarifies Leight. “There are several days of prep time prior to shooting the episode. Those days involve location scouting and casting and working out all of those details. Then you shoot the episode and then there’s editing and finishing it up and as a director she’s involved in all of that, so what’s really tough is that while she’s trying to do all of this, we still needed her on set as Sergeant Olivia Benson. As acting commander in the squad room, she really couldn’t just disappear for large portions of time. Given all of this, we had to really negotiate her time very carefully.”

Hargitay’s commitment to her position at the helm of this episode is evident as she wrangled Leight into letting her fly to Los Angeles to work with the editing team for a few days, one of which was a workday. “She also did a lot of stuff on the weekends as well, working with the writer of this episode (Peter Blauner) and the editors as well throughout the whole production process,” revealed Leight, adding, “This was really an all encompassing project for her and aside from all of the outside pressures, she made it that way for herself because she really wanted to put out the best product possible so that everyone involved would be proud of this episode and she felt that the only way to do that was to be completely immersed in process.”

That process probably wasn’t helped by the fact that the scenes of this episode that were shot on location where done so during a week of brutally cold weather. In fact, I ran into the crew one night as they were shooting on the edge of Central Park. It was late and getting colder by the minute and I mentioned to a crew member that I hoped they were going to be finished soon, to which he responded, with a huge grin, “Oh yeah, this episode is going great. I love our director, she’s moving fast and getting it done because, well, she doesn’t like the cold and she doesn’t want us out here any longer than we have to be. She’s always thinking about what’s best for everybody.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I reached out to Hargitay’s publicist but was unable to speak directly with her about this experience. Fortunately, I was able to ask Leight the one question that’s most intrigued me about Hargitay’s move to the director’s chair — what took so long? “Oh she was definitely ready to do this,” revealed Leight, “but it was about getting everyone on board.” And by everyone he means, the powers-that-be within the Dick Wolf organization. “She’s the first actor in the history of the ‘Law & Order’ franchise to direct an episode of ‘Law & Order’ while she’s still acting in the show,” explained Leight.”There’s been this edict, really since time began, that no one on a Dick Wolf show can direct a Dick Wolf show. But, the counter argument was that if anyone has earned it, she has. It was sort of corporate policy and it often takes a while for things to change. In this case, the change was clearly well-deserved and worth it.” At this point, Leight laughed a little and said, “My feeling is that any other actor who does a Dick Wolf show for 15 years should get the same shot.” (So there’s hope for you actors on “Chicago Fire!” – in 2027!)

Circling back to talk specifically about “Criminal Stories,” Leight added, “I didn’t really want Mariska to be in every scene while she was directing, but because of the story, she belonged in as many scenes as we can get her into. This was because I felt a sense of obligation to Alec and to Mariska to give them really meaty scenes. There are some very serious confrontations between Baldwin and Hargitay who are two very interesting actors to watch as they go at it. Our goal was to have a compelling storyline that they could take opposite sides of and both come out of that looking smart. We understand where both of them are coming from. I think we pulled it off.”

In the end, Leight summed it up with this simple statement, “He’s a big star, she’s directing her first episode, no one wanted to screw it up.”

With the obvious amount of intense work and passion from all parties involved, it truly seems there’s little chance of that.

Two hashtags this week! = #MariskaDirects and #BaldwinOnSVU

“Law & Order: SVU” airs Wednesday at 9e/p on NBC.


Can you tell me anything about the SVU episode directed by Mariska Hargitay? — John
Even though Alec Baldwin is guest-starring, don’t expect Jack Donaghy to show up. (His character, newspaper columnist Jimmy MacArthur, shares more DNA with Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross, which gets a nice little homage.) And although “Jimmy Mac” flirts with Benson during his first interview, don’t expect sparks. In fact, when his headlines interfere with Benson’s rape investigation, things get heated in a completely different way.



Single mom Jenny Aschler (guest star Meghann Fahy) is arrested for child endangerment. Not trusting anyone to take care of her young daughter Maddie (guest star Ella Anderson), she instead leaves her home alone for days. Jenny’s fierce motherly instincts and fear of men leads Sergeant Benson (Mariska Hargitay) to suspect she may have been a victim of child abuse. With help from Dr. Lindstrom (guest star Bill Irwin), Jenny recovers deeply repressed memories of violence, rape and neglect. Also starring Ice-T (Detective Odafin Tutuola), Danny Pino (Detective Nick Amaro), Kelli Giddish (Detective Amanda Rollins) and Raúl Esparza (Rafael Barba). Also guest starring Dean Winters (Detective Brian Cassidy) and Daniel Stewart Sherman (Gary Aschler).

Determined to help make a difference in the lives of survivors nationwide, unite4:good today announced that the Joyful Heart Foundation‘s NO MORE PSA campaign has joined its growing global movement for humanity as a Founding Affiliate. Together, the organizations will amplify efforts to help end sexual assault and domestic violence as part of unite4:good’s mission to catalyze acts of kindness and service to inspire positive and lasting change.

The Joyful Heart Foundation recently produced the groundbreaking NO MORE PSA campaign to address the silence and excuses surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault and call Americans to action around these issues. Directed by actress and advocate Mariska Hargitay, the campaign features more than 40 celebrities and public figures engaging bystanders in ending domestic violence and sexual assault.

“NO MORE seeks to remove the shame and stigma surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Joyful Heart President and Founder Mariska Hargitay. “NO MORE is making these issues easier for people of all ages to talk about, and empowering bystanders in every community to get involved in preventing them.”

The Joyful Heart Foundation was created by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit actress Mariska Hargitay in 2004 to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. Since its inception, the Joyful Heart Foundation has served nearly 14,000 survivors and healing professionals.

Founded by the non-profit Bright Future International and philanthropist Anthony Melikhov, unite4:good is establishing a new standard whereby acts of kindness and service become so valued and celebrated that everyone chooses to make them a part of their daily lives. The ultimate goal of the unite4:good movement is to convey the “inspire:empower:share:love” message and inspire positive action so a day will come when the number of people who want to help outnumber those who need it.

“Through NO MORE, the Joyful Heart Foundation is changing the way the world talks and thinks about sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse” said Mr. Melikhov. “By working alongside the Joyful Heart Foundation, we can reach more people and fulfill our mission of bringing change to the world, one act of kindness at a time.”

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Julie: The threat of a Bensidy breakup on Law & Order: SVU has been giving my heartburn for WEEKS. Why? When? What?
We’ve heard your cries. SVU exec producer Warren Leight said some things will be addressed in an upcoming episode, specifically with Baby Boy Doe, the baby everybody wants Olivia to adopt. “Well, that’s part of the question: What are Cassidy’s views on starting a family or growing old with somebody? Episode 19 has a good amount of that personal drama, as well as a really disturbing story ‘cause that’s what we do,” Leight told us. “It’s a very tough story about a 23-year-old woman who finds out that she was the victim of horrific abuse when she was younger and it’s on the Internet. It’s a story about her lost childhood and interwoven with that is a little bit of Baby Boy Doe’s rough start.”


Thanks to Claudia we have a scan of the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly. The issue talks about Mariska’s directorial debut and Alec Baldwin’s guest appearance. Check it out in the gallery below!

Entertainment Weekly- March 21, 2014

Warning: May contain spoilers so do not watch if you wish to remain spoiler free!

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