It must be nice to be an actor in demand. You can open up the trades, read about the hot new projects in development, and know “these people want me to star in this thing.” Sam Waterston, with all due respect, probably hasn’t felt that way in a while.
It was hopefully a lot of fun for him, then, when NBC announced that it was bringing back regular Law & Order and—before anyone else had even been cast—it said “boy, we would really like to get Sam Waterston back.” Waterston played DA Jack McCoy for years on various Law & Order shows, so his return would signify a major connection to the original series, but newcomers Jeffrey Donovan and Hugh Dancy (plus oldcomer Anthony Anderson, who starred on the show’s original final seasons) were all added to the revival before Jack McCoy.
Was Waterston waiting for NBC and producer Dick Wolf to add some zeroes to however much money they were offering? Was he concerned about fitting into the old Jack McCoy eyebrows? Either way, it’s officially happening now, with Deadline reporting that Waterston has signed a one-year deal to return to Law & Order (which will make this his 17th season on the show).
In a statement, Wolf said that Waterston himself has a “perfect pitch” for Jack McCoy that “both reflects and expands our ability to understand the law.” He also says he’s the “ultimate conscience” of Law & Order and that he hopes Waterston ends up “emulating the career of New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who served until he was 90.” (Waterston just turned 81 in November.)
The new version of the old Law & Order will premiere on NBC on February 24 “as part of a Law & Order Thursday lineup”—which has got to be one of the sweetest phrases NBC has heard in decades. If only it could also bring back Seinfeld and Friends.