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Law & Order: SVU Scoop: Hargitay Inks New Deal, Jennifer Love Hewitt May Succeed Her

Just in time for NBC’s upfront presentation on Monday, Law & Order:SVU star Mariska Hargitay has closed a new deal to return for its upcoming 13th season — but there’s a catch.

Around midseason, Hargitay’s Olivia Benson will pass the baton on to a new female detective — possibly played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Meanwhile, SVU‘s leading man Christopher Meloni still has no deal for next season.

Going into the contract negotiations, Hargitay had asked to scale back her workload on the show. The producers granted her request, reducing her hours but keeping her salary roughly the same at $385,000 an episode. For the first 13 episodes, Hargitay’s character will continue to solve sex crimes alongside Elliot Stabler, pending Meloni closing his deal. Then Benson will be promoted to a supervisor position, with a new female detective taking her place. That is the role that producers are eying for Hewitt, who, ironically, guest-starred on SVU last fall as a rape victim.

As for Meloni, whose current salary is the same as Hargitay’s, I hear the actor is seeking a raise. Talks with NBC, however, are moving slowly, so it doesn’t look like he will have a deal before NBC’s upfront. The last time Hargitay and Meloni’s contracts were up two years ago they didn’t sign new pacts until the end of June.

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