'SVU' locked, but not the leads

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NBC has renewed "Law & Order: SVU."

After lengthy talks, the network has closed a deal with Wolf Films to bring the crime drama back for an 11th season.

However, the stars of the show, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, still have no deals to return.

The duo, who regularly negotiate their contracts together, began talks with the network last week.

After a tough back-and-forth in 2007, Emmy winner Hargitay and Meloni inked rich two-year deals that brought their paychecks to about $350,000 an episode.

But with networks trimming costs and NBC at the forefront of the budget cuts, getting raises will be more difficult this time.

On the other hand, Hargitay and Meloni are the stars, and it's hard to imagine "SVU" continuing without them.

Crime procedurals have shown resilience after losing a lead — most recently with CBS' "CSI" subbing William Petersen with Laurence Fishburne — but it's more difficult for an established show to survive the loss of both its female and male stars. (partialdiff)
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