Hargitay, Meloni returning to 'SVU'

Stars ink new deals for procedural's 11th season

"Law & Order: SVU" will return with its two stars on board.

After on-again, off-again negotiations, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni have inked new deals to continue on the crime procedural, which is coming back in the fall for its 11th season.

Additionally, Christine Lahti has signed on to play the assistant district attorney on the veteran series for the first four episodes. Stephanie March will return after that to reprise her role as ADA Alexandra Cabot.

Sources said Hargitay and Meloni, who regularly negotiate their contracts together, have inked one-year deals with an option for a second year.

Despite the conglomerates and particularly NBC Universal being in cost-cutting mode, Hargitay and Meloni are said to have boosted their most recent salaries of about $385,000 an episode. In a rare feat for show talent, they have been able to negotiate a piece of "SVU's" lucrative back end, sources said.

Taking all into account, Hargitay's and Meloni's paychecks are expected to grow to more than $400,000 an episode, solidifying Hargitay's position as the highest-paid woman in television and Meloni as one of the top male earners.

All parties involved declined Monday to comment on the terms of the agreement.

Hargitay and Meloni's deals come more than a month after NBC closed a deal with Wolf Films for "SVU's" renewal. At the time, NBC brass said the show would return with or without its stars as the networks and reps for the actors had reached an impasse.

The two sides resumed talks at the beginning of June and, after a series of sessions, the deals were finalized last week.

Crime procedurals are more resilient than character dramas in replacing leads, but losing both Hargitay and Meloni, considered the heart of the show, was a potential big blow to "SVU."

Hargitay is repped by Paradigm. Meloni is repped by Gersh.
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