Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Dick Wolf's television show is gone, but not forgotten ... NBC canceled the show. The final episode was May 25th ...

We started watching "Law and Order" during its first year, 1990. The format was fun -- "Law" with lots of action -- criminals, police, victims, witnesses, and all the people who were affected by the crime. Then "Order" with lots of talk -- DA, Prosecutor, Defense Counsel, the criminal himself, pro and con witness testimony, and the verdict.

It was very absorbing -- current issues, important happenings taken from the headlines, but for me and my family, more than anything, it was "old home week."

Each and every time we watched, we saw our friends playing lawyers, judges, witnesses, criminals, and when the camera panned over the jury, we recognized many of them there as well. And the credits, (which don't interest most people) were fascinating. Often we knew the director (or his/her agent), and eagle-eyed, we checked to see who got top billing, and who was the featured guest artist at the all-important end of the list. (Depending on print size and spacing, last billing can be more important than first.)

Dick Wolf created jobs, well-paying work for actors -- it was sort of like a repertory company in New York. Many of our friends have made a living doing Off-Broadway shows, balancing their budgets with "Law & Order," and Wolf's "Law & Order: Special Victims," or "Law & Order: Criminal intent."

Sam Waterson, Joanna Merlin, Dianne Wiest, Charlotte Moore, Doris Belak, Michael Moriarity, Phil Bosco, Mariska Hargitay, Jerry Orbach (a dear friend who's gone now), also producer Neal Baer, director Ed Sherin, actor-politician Fred Thompson ... the list of friends, real pals, goes on and on ...

This is NOT just name dropping -- we grew up professionally with these people, and celebrated as many of them went on to bigger, more important things. As their lives changed so did ours. Yet in between major roles in movies and plays, they'd return, and guest star, direct, produce, do a "cameo" for Wolf. "L & O" was a home-base, a special job for all of us.

My husband John Cullum, who's thought of as a legend in Musical Theater, is still part of the gang, happy to work whenever SVU calls him in to be "Judge Murdock." (He used to be lawyer Murdock -- Wolf liked the character and promoted him.) Even our son, actor JD, has worked on Law & Order."

Do we see our old friends? Rarely. During rehearsal, and performances, a show becomes a close-knit, loving family. But five or ten shows later ... well, you remember your former family, but there's twenty to fifty new folks in your new family, and you're attached to them in a lovingly intense, though temporary way.

Even so, L & O is a landmark -- a place of historical value, marking an important stage in our life.

So, click, click -- on other channels there will be other shows featuring JC and JD. But, along with Law & Order's millions of fans, the Cullum family is certainly going to miss it.
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