The news that producers denied last year is finally coming true.
Actor Christopher Meloni will exit Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will not return for the show’s 13th season.
Meloni, who plays Det. Stabler, has co-starred opposite Mariska Hargitay since the show started in 1999.
The decision comes one week after NBC’s new boss Bob Greenblatt told reporters Meloni’s deal was “nearly done.” At his upfront presentation for advertisers in New York, Greenblatt added that the network had plans to “reset the tone” of the series. Hargitay will be scaling back her commitment to the show having adopting a baby girl.
Last year the Courier Mail broke news that Meloni was eyeing an exit.
“I think 12 years is enough, a good number,” he told The Courier-Mail.
But the quote became a global scoop and triggered a denial from executive produce Neal Baer: “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers!”
Meloni eventually responded with: “I couched it incorrectly. It wasn’t [the reporter’s] fault.”
Former Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer Love Hewitt is among the leading female candidates to fill out the show’s cast next season, but no word on a male replacement.
At its peak, the drama averaged just under 17 million viewers in its second season (2000-01). This season it has averaged under 9 million.
Source: Hollywood Reporter