12:07pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Mariska Hargitay Inks New Deal to Return to 'Law & Order: SVU'
It's official: Detective Olivia Benson will be back.
Mariska Hargitay has closed a new deal with studio Universal Television to return to NBC's long-running procedural Law & Order: SVU, the actress announced Saturday.
"Happy weekend. It's official. Season 15--I'LL BE BACK!" she announced via Twitter.
NBC renewed Law & Order: SVU in late April in anticipation that Hargitay would return.
Wednesday's season 14 finale left the door open for Hargitay's Benson, with the character last seen at home -- not expected to return to work for two days and being held at gunpoint by a serial rapist the team had been attempting to take down.
Over the years, rumors have swirled on whether she would continue on with the Dick Wolf procedural, with buzz about a reduced role put to rest every year.
SVU has averaged a 2.1 rating with adults 18-49 in its Wednesday time slot. Heading into its 15th season, the show is not the juggernaut it once was but remains a consistent performer on a night that has been problematic for NBC. It will return to the Wednesdays at 9 p.m. slot in the fall, where it will face largely the same competition from Criminal Minds and American Idol/The X Factor.
Hargitay is repped by CAA.