Two years ago NBC threatened to replace Law & Order: Special Victims Unit stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay when the two were at a stand still during contract negotiations. Over the last few months the same threat was issued. But unlike two years ago where an agreement was eventually reached, it has been reported by Deadline that Meloni has walked out of negotiations and he will indeed not be returning next season. The exit certainly comes as a shock considering Meloni’s twelve year run on the show. The exit was also reportedly one of a personal decision for Meloni who’s reps have stated “he is ready for the next chapter of his life.”
This move will also help Dick Wolf gain support for his planned revamp of the show which will also include Hargitay being moved to a supporting character role during next season’s back nine episodes and the introduction of a new female lead. The new female lead will now also included a new male lead. These, along with the replacing of Neal Baer with Warren Leight as showrunner marks the biggest shake-up the show has ever seen.
It just goes to show that in the world of television, nothing is EVER set in stone.