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Case closed: 'Law & Order' canceled on brink of setting TV record

May 14, 2010 | 12:39 pm

Law-and-Order-Cancellation-Season-20 NBC canceled "Law & Order" Friday after two decades on the air. When the procedural drama signs off May 24, it will be tied with "Gunsmoke" as prime-time's longest-running drama series. Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Vonn is one of the show's last guest stars. The ski champ features in the series finale as a key witness in a terrorism case.

Two of the three "Law & Order" spinoffs -- "SVU" and "Criminal Intent" -- were renewed for seasons 12 and 10 respectively; "Trial by Jury" lasted just 13 episodes in 2005. And a new "Law & Order" series set in Los Angeles is scheduled to debut on NBC next season.

The original "Law & Order" debuted on NBC in September 1990. Although the series was a solid ratings performer for most of its run, it failed to win over the Emmys very often, taking home just six awards for its 52 nominations so far.

Beginning with the second season, it earned 11 consecutive Emmy Award nominations for best drama series, winning the award only once, in 1997. Elaine Stritch won the guest actress Emmy in 1993 and the series has won four technical awards -- sound editing (1992) and cinematography (1993, 1997, 1998).

Over the years, "Law & Order" starred three different lead actor contenders -- Michael Moriarty (1991-1994), Sam Waterston (1997, 1999, 2000) and Jerry Orbach (2000) -- but none of them made it to the winner's circle. Neither did either of the two supporting actor nominees -- Steven Hill (1998, 1999) and Benjamin Bratt (1999).

Bratt's then-girlfriend Julia Roberts picked up a guest actress nomination in 1999, and Jane Alexander was nominated the following year for a guest spot that crossed over to the spinoff "SVU." The last Emmy nomination to date for "Law & Order" was a guest actress bid by Tovah Feldshuh in 2003.

Photo: "Law & Order" season 20 cast. Credit: NBC

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