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May 14, 2010

Will 'Law & Order' score a final season Emmy?

More awards coverage  

By Randee Dawn

The 20-season run of "Law & Order" matches “Gunsmoke” as the longest-airing drama series on TV, but will Emmy voters celebrate the remarkable achievement with nomination for outstanding drama series?

“L&O” may have been a long-distance runner, but it’s never racked up Emmy medals. The show has been submitted for a series Emmy this year, just as in most previous years, but it hasn’t scored a nomination in the category since 2002.

It did, however, win the top drama series award in 1997, so it wouldn’t be out of left field for it to snag a well-deserved nomination for its swan song.

And what about the “L&O” actors? It’s pretty shocking that nobody from the show’s flagship has ever scored a lead or supporting actor win (it does have several nominations). Its sister act, “Law & Order: SVU,” has a lead winner from 2006 in Mariska Hargitay. The late Jerry Orbach used to joke that the only way he would get a nomination for his iconic role as Det. Lennie Briscoe was if he died in his partner’s arms.

Well, “L&O” is now dying in Dick Wolf’s arms.

It may actually have a real acting shot in the Supporting Actress category – assuming voters have been paying attention. S. Epatha Merkerson, who has played Lt. Anita Van Buren since its fourth
season, announced her departure prior the cancellation, so she’s the only one really getting a good farewell, as the centerpiece of a breast cancer storyline. The prior Emmy winner (2005 for HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues”) has been excellent, and has a solid shot at a second prize.

Merkerson aside, don’t expect Hollywood hearts to go soft on “L&O’s” behalf just because it’s ending. For one thing, the big-drama-finale field is pretty packed – “24” ends after eight seasons on the same night, and “Lost” wraps up six seasons the day before.  For another, voters don’t necessarily choose winners out of sympathy for the end of a long run – yes, “The Sopranos” picked up the prize in 2007 for its final season, as did “St. Elsewhere” in 1988 – but it’s all very hit and miss otherwise. “The West Wing” failed to pick up the big prize in its final year, 2006, for example, and “The Wire” never even got a nomination.


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