April 20, 2012 6:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Law & Order: SVU' Star Mariska Hargitay Inks New Deal With Universal Television (Exclusive)
Mariska Hargitay is remaining in the NBC fold.
The Law & Order: SVU star has signed a new deal with Universal Television to continue on the long-running procedural, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
While a new contract for one of television's top stars could potentially spell good news for a 14th season of the Dick Wolf-produced crime drama, sources close to the show say it doesn't guarantee that the series will return in the fall. NBC is simply locking up Hargitay, who is said to make about $500,000 per episode, in case L&O: SVU is picked up.
The news comes the same week that Hargitay touted the rebooted series' new vibe at NBC's Summer Press Day, where she gushed about new cast members Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish and new showrunner Warren Leight.
"This new cast came on, and I had no idea what to expect -- and we had a new showrunner," she told reporters Wednesday in Pasadena. "The show this year is awesome and different and has gone into different areas, and I get to play different things; my own story of having a boyfriend after 13 years. … My character has gone on this unbelievable personal journey that is both reflected in her persona life and the storylines."
How big Hargitay's role with the Universal Television-produced series would be this season was a question heading into last fall. However, NBC Entertainment topper Robert Greenblatt later said the actress wouldn't be scaling back her role or leaving the series anytime soon.
Hargitay's former co-star, Christopher Meloni, departed SVU after its 12th season following prolonged contract talks with the network. In his absence, the drama added a plethora of new characters, including love interests for Hargitay's Detective Olivia Benson played by Harry Connick Jr. and Andre Braugher.
The veteran procedural has seen its ratings slide this season in the wake of Meloni's departure. Wednesday's installment was down 6 percent week-over-week in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, matching a series low with a 1.6, according to official national ratings. (Fast affiliate ratings had the series hitting a series low 1.5 in the demo.)
Hargitay is repped by CAA.