‘Law & Order’: Here’s Which Original Star Camryn Manheim Is Replacing

by Suzanne Halliburton
Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

If you loved Camryn Manheim on The Practice, you’ll embrace this Law & Order cast announcement.

Dick Wolf Entertainment confirmed that Manheim will portray Lieutenant Kate Dixon on the Law & Order restart for season 21. But since the full-time cast has a limited number of spots split between the cops and prosecutors, someone from the original show won’t be in the revival.

And that someone is S. Epatha Merkerson’s iconic Lt. Anita Van Buren. Merkerson appeared in the most Law & Order episodes, ever.

Merkerson played Van Buren on Law & Order for 17 years and 388 episodes. When the show ended in 2010, Merkerson owned the standard for portraying the longest-running Black character on television. Ice-T, who portrays Fin on Law & Order: SVU, since has surpassed Merkerson’s total. He’s been on 482.

Merkerson has a good reason for not signing on with the show. She’d already planned to leave Law & Order before it was canceled. She joined another Wolf Entertainment project in 2015. That’s Chicago Med. Merkerson now plays Sharon Goodwin, the head of patient and medical services at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center.

(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Production of ‘Law & Order’ Hit New York Streets This Week

The Law & Order reboot premieres Feb. 24 on NBC and will be on the same night as two of its spinoffs — SVU and Organized Crime. The series started shooting in New York earlier this week. The Wolf Entertainment social media account posted photos of a series regular and newcomer to mark the occasion.

Anthony Anderson is reviving his character, Kevin Bernard. He joined the Law & Order cast in 2008 and was with the series until its surprise cancellation in 2010. After starring on the comedy, Black-ish, Anderson is returning as Bernard, although it’s being reported he’ll only be on the show for the first year.

The other actor in photos was Jeffrey Donovan. He’s new to the series. We don’t even know his name, only that he plays a cop. Donovan charmed audiences when he played Michael Westen, the charming, burned ex-spy on Burn Notice. That series ran from 2006-13 on USA Network.

NBC also cast Hugh Dancy as an assistant district attorney. Variety reports that Sam Waterston, who portrayed district attorney Jack McCoy, is in negotiations to return to his role on the show.

The Law & Order series and its spinoffs prefer to cast actors based in New York. They need to be believable as either a detective or prosecutor.

Manheim certainly fills that order. On The Practice, which ran on ABC from 1997 to 2004, she portrayed defense attorney Ellenor Frutt. She’s the second The Practice star to show up in the permanent cast for Law & Order or one of its spinoffs. Dylan McDermott, who plays criminal mastermind Richard Wheatley on Law & Order: Organized Crime, starred in The Practice as Bobby Donnell. Manheim won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama in 1998 for portraying Ellenor.