Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is auditioning five new actors to replace the character of Christopher Meloni for its latest season to be aired in Fall 2011.
Dick Wolf, the executive producer and creator of Law and Order and NBC, have narrowed down the search to Danny Pino (Cold Case), Michael Raymond James (Terriers), David Conrad (Ghost Whisperer), Kevin Alejandro (True Blood) and Rhys Coiro (Entourage) , reports Deadline.com.
With Chris Meloni out of the show for various reasons and Mariska Hargitay who plays Detective Oilivia Benson, asking for a lighter work load, it is believed that the bosses at NBC are thinking of infusing younger blood to keep the series going for a longer time. The new NBC boss Bob Greenblatt said in May that the network wants to keep refreshing an old franchise, adds the report.
Mariska Hargitay has adopted a baby and her character will be promoted and moved away in the second half of the season, hence a new female lead is also in the offing. Media reports indicated that Jennifer Love Hewitt was being considered for the role, but it seems they are just rumors.
Kevind Alejandro and Michael Raymind James have both done guest spots on the series, so that may work in their favor.
Law and Order: SVU has been the most successful of all the franchises of the original series. It has won several awards and been nominated for both the Emmys and Golden Globe. Mariska won the Golden Globe for her role in 2005 and the Emmy's in 2007. Chris Meloni was nominated for Emmys in 2006. The series has won a slew of awards in guest appearance for many other actors.
Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni were reportedly among the highest-paid lead actors on a drama, each earning nearly $400,000 per episode, a salary that TV Guides said was exceeded only by House's Hugh Laurie.