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S. Epatha Merkerson to Leave Law & Order After 16 Years

After 16 years, S. Epatha Merkerson is leaving Law & Order at the end of this season, has confirmed. "It's a graceful way to go. It's the end of my contract this year, and the story line has been so perfect," the 57-year-old actress told Entertainment Weekly, which first reported the news. "I've given it my best for 16 years. It's time to move on. I'm doing other things and this will be a great way to leave what has been an extraordinary gig." Merkerson, whose character was diagnosed with cancer earlier this season, says she doesn't know yet if Lt. Van Buren will live or die. "Van Buren is a hell of a character. However they decide to take her out, it'll be worthy of the character," she told EW. "Either way, it'll be great for me because I get to act it." Although the fate of Law & Order - now in Season 20 - is also in question, the longtime cast member has faith it will return. "They say that every other year and the show always comes back," she told EW of the series, which is poised to break Gunsmoke's record for longest-running prime-time drama if it is renewed. "It's a great show. It's well-written. It has great integrity. It has a huge following." Merkerson, who won an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for her performance in the 2005 HBO film Lackawanna Blues, said she's next producing and directing a documentary. "It's exciting for me to be able to learn new things, she said. "I'm sure it will be emotional, but right now I'm just really happy for having had the opportunity." NBC refused to comment on Merkerson's departure. Source Here

LAW & ORDER "Brazil" Season 20 Episode 18 - Preview

Watch a sneak peek of the new episode of LAW & ORDER "Brazil" Season 20 Episode 18 which airs Monday March 29 (8-10 p.m. ET) on NBC. Episode Summary: When an environmental scientist, Dr. Oscar Silva (guest star Elliot Villar), is poisoned during a global warming symposium, Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) initially suspect competitors from Dr. Silva's field of study. It is soon discovered that Dr. Silva is involved in a messy custody battle with his wife's (guest star Tammy Blanchard) ex-husband, Phillip Shoemaker (guest star Tony Hale) and the focus of the investigation quickly shifts to the victim's family. Meanwhile, the case becomes personal for Cutter (Linus Roache) as it stirs up unpleasant memories from his own past. Also starring: Alana de la Garza (Asst. D.A. Consuela Rubirosa), S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren) and Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy). Source & Preview

LAW & ORDER "Four Cops Shot" Season 20 Episode 17 - Preview

Watch a sneak peek of the new episode of LAW & ORDER "Four Cops Shot" Season 20 Episode 17 which airs Monday March 22 (8-10 p.m. ET) on NBC. Episode Summary: When Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) arrive on the scene of four fallen police officers, they have to act fast to find the shooter. With a room full of witnesses, they have a description of the culprit but little else. The case becomes even more complex when the detectives discover that the police officers may have known the shooter. The investigation quickly leads them to a circuit of drug dealers, a jealous husband and a remorseful judge who are all pieces of a larger puzzle. Also starring: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy), Source & Preview

LAW & ORDER "Innocence" Season 20 Episode 16 - Preview

Watch a sneak peek of the new episode of LAW & ORDER "Innocence" Season 20 Episode 16 which airs Monday March 15 (8-10 p.m. ET) on NBC. Episode Summary: Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) detain a man who is tried and found guilty of killing a gay man as a hate crime. Shortly after, Emily Ryan (guest star Amy Madigan) steps in with The Innocence Collective, determined to prove his innocence and reverse the verdict. Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) soon discovers that Emily's overeager student assistant, Lisa Klein (guest star Anna Chlumsky), may have crossed the line to get a testimony in her client's favor. Before long, personal relationships are threatened as the integrity of the entire trial is called into question. Also starring: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy), Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa) and Linus Roache (Michael Cutter). Source & Preview

Tonight's TV Hot List: Monday, March 15, 2010

* 24 (9/8c Fox) Jack Bauer may be running out of time to save the country, as it has been reported in some news outlets that Fox is planning to pull the plug on 24's ticking clock at the end of this season. For the moment, though, it's still Jack's watch, and he and Ortiz work together in the field to try to safeguard New York City from an attack with a "dirty bomb" made from the hijacked nuclear fuel rods. Meanwhile, Kevin Wade's parole officer, Bill Prady (Stephen Root), questions Dana about his disappearance. * Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (8:30/7:30c Fuse) The 25th annual Hall of Fame gala honors a roster of rockers in a sonic evening that usually hits the right notes, particularly with its traditional surprise jams, loose talk, fascinating group reunions and, every once in a while, even palpable tension among feuding music mates. Tonight's inductees are Swedish pop group ABBA, prog-rockers (turned pop rockers) Genesis, Jamaican reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, harmonizing British beat band the Hollies and pioneering pre-punk practitioners the Stooges (featuring iconoclastic rocker Iggy Pop). The ceremony is broadcast from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. * Damages (10/9c FX ) Patty and Ellen - a team again. Ellen probably does think that only Patty can get to the bottom of l'affaire Tobin, but can that be her only reason for approaching her old boss last week? She has to know how easily Patty can see through flattery, so what's up? In any event, the two join forces tonight to look for the fragile Carol Tobin (Ana Reeder), who has gone missing. And another thing, does Ellen really think that Carol killed her dad? Meanwhile, old friend Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) is back, and now he's a philanthropist. * Law & Order (10/9c NBC) If a protege is truly worthy of a mentor's respect, there may come a day when the student surpasses the teacher. In an episode that winks at the efforts of the real-life Innocence Project, Cutter's mentor Emily Ryan (Amy Madigan) tries to exonerate a man convicted of a hate crime, culminating in standout performance by Linus Roache. Grown-up My Girl Anna Chlumsky also guest stars. * Jessica Simpson's The Price of Beauty (10/9c VH1) Jessica Simpson's return to reality TV plays to one of her strengths: looking good. She and sidekicks Ken and CaCee travel to a different country each week to check out the local beauty regimens. In this first stop in Thailand, they visit a monastery for a lesson in achieving inner beauty through meditation, stop by a Thai massage parlor, try some healthy snacks (such as fried worms), and learn about skin bleaching creams and heavy brass neck rings. Source Here

LAW & ORDER "Brilliant Disguise" Season 20 Episode 15 - Photos

Watch a sneak peek of the new episode of LAW & ORDER "Brilliant Disguise" Season 20 Episode 15 which airs Monday March 8 (8-10 p.m. ET) on NBC. Episode Summary: After a young woman, Justine (guest star Laura Campbell), is found brutally murdered in a hotel and her body stashed away on a food service cart, evidence leads Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) to a young medical school student. When a crafty lawyer, Ray Backlund (guest star Timothy Busfield), becomes involved, the detectives realize that it is going to take more than superficial evidence to put the murderer behind bars. This quickly becomes a case of mind over matter. Also starring: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy), Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa), and Linus Roache (Michael Cutter). Source & Photos

LAW & ORDER "Steel-Eyed Deaths/Boy On Fire" Season 20 Episode 12 & 13

Watch a sneak peek of two new episodes of LAW & ORDER "Steel-Eyed Deaths" and "Boy On Fire" (Season 20 Episode 12 & 13 respectively) which airs Monday March 1 (8-10 p.m. ET) on NBC. Episode Summary: A FAMILY IS FOUND BRUTALLY MURDERED IN THEIR HOME AND A RUNAWAY TEENAGER IS THE SUSPECT. When a family of four is found murdered in their home, Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) discover that the deaths may be related to the deceased teenage daughter’s troubled friend, Bonnie. As Lupo and Bernard track down Bonnie, the detectives become aware of another suspect, Justin, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder making the case more complicated when both suspects' mental states come into question. Also starring: Sam Waterston (Jack McCoy), S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa), and Linus Roache (Michael Cutter). Source & Featurette

Lindsey Vonn Lands a Bit Role on Law & Order

Dreams keep coming true for Lindsey Vonn: After winning two medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the alpine skier has landed a role on her favorite TV show, Law & Order. Vonn, who's been described as obsessed with the NBC procedural, received the good news during an interview with Bob Costas on Saturday night. After looking back at her Olympics performance, which included several injuries, a gold medal in women's downhill and a bronze medal in super-G, Costas told Vonn she has been cast as a jury foreman in an upcoming episode. The pair even ran through Vonn's lines. The role is an upgrade from what Vonn said she'd settle for: She said she "totally would" have played a corpse just to be on the show. Law & Order returns with new episodes Monday at 10/9c. Source Here

Debra Winger on LAW & ORDER Season 20 (PHOTOS)

Check out the first photos of Debra Winger who will guest star on an upcoming episode of LAW & ORDER Season Season 20, Episode 13 "Boy On Fire" airing Friday March 1st 2010 on NBC. Episode Synopsis: When detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) come upon the burning body of Cesar (guest star Noel Rodriguez), a sixteen-year-old charter school student from a bad neighborhood, they begin to question his young mentee Moses (guest star Aaron Shaw), who was the last person to see him alive. After evidence leads the detectives to a shocking cell phone video of the crime being committed, they soon realize that the four people in the video may be in cahoots with an unexpected ally. The investigation leads the detectives to the high school principal, Mrs. Woodside (guest star Debra Winger), who has all of the right answers. With a shady educator, tampered alibis and jealous schoolboys all coming into play, the detectives discover that their case may be more than elementary. Also starring: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy), Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa), and Linus Roache (Michael Cutter). Source & More Photos

NBC Orders More 'Trauma' and Other Shows to Fill 'Leno' Slot

NBC has taken a measure to anticipate the lost of 10/9c hour filler when "The Jay Leno Show" finishes its primetime run on February 11. The peacock is ordering more episodes from its series such as "Trauma" and "Community" and even extending the number of "The Office" and "30 Rock" which have gotten the full 22-episode order. "Trauma", the new medical drama, receives four more episodes although the show is not doing well in the rating. NBC initially wanted to cancel the show after the first 13 episodes but decided later to bring it up to 16. With the new order, the show gets a total of 20 episodes. Meanwhile, critically-acclaimed but equally not stellar in rating, "Community" gets additional three. NBC also orders three for "Law & Order" and two for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Parks and Recreation". This means "Law & Order" will have 22 episodes in total while "SVU" and "Parks" get a full-blown 25 episodes in one season. Conan O'Brien is taking a stance in quitting NBC when it is to be pushed to 12:05 A.M. The host is demanding a compensation for the staff of "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" when they lose their job. The show reportedly will end its run this Friday, January 22. Source Here