Hourlong Special Celebrates Thespians Who Got Their Start on Dick Wolf’s Monumental Brand

Celebrating the influence of one of the most iconic brands in all of television, NBC will air the hourlong special The Paley Center Presents Law & Order: Before They Were Stars on Thursday, November. 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. 

For an up-and-coming actor, an appearance on a Law & Order episode is a rite of passage. Since 1990, more than a few of the attorneys, victims, perpetrators, witnesses, kids, suspects and police of the week have gone on to become some of the biggest television and movie stars in the world.
The telecast will feature many actors whose roles on Law & Order played an instrumental part in shaping their careers, including Ron Cephas Jones, Chris Sullivan, and Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us), Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton), Michael Imperioli and Aida Turturro (The Sopranos), Ariel Winter (Modern Family) and S. Epatha Merkerson (Chicago Med).
For many actors, Law & Order was a way to earn their SAG card. Some played multiple guest roles on the series before becoming famous and will explain what the experience on set meant to them at the time.
Members of the Law & Order ensembles will recount the experiences of working with the great actors who were not yet household names. Some Law & Order cast members discuss appearing on Law & Order as other characters before landing a spot in the main cast. For example, Peter Scanavino appeared as double assailant Johnny Dubchek before he took the role of Sonny Carisi on SVU. Kelli Giddish played a victim before she joined the force as Det. Amanda Rollins.
With over 1,100 episodes from the Law & Order library to date and tens of thousands of roles for actors, it’s no surprise that many of them have gone on to incredible careers. This insightful look back is a celebration of thirty years of a legendary franchise and the stars who have helped pave the way.
Law & Order is one of television’s most legendary brands and has served as a springboard for so many talented actors,” said Maureen J. Reidy, the Paley Center’s President & CEO. “We’re honored to partner with our friends from NBC to present this entertaining look at where some of today’s biggest stars got their first big break.”
The Paley Center Presents Law & Order: Before They Were Stars will be produced by The Paley Center for Media in association with Brad Lachman Productions. Maureen J. Reidy, Brad Lachman, and Diane Lewis will executive produce. Bill Bracken will co-executive produce.

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