Kelli Giddish’s upcoming “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” exit was not her choice, nor was it a decision made by showrunner David Graziano, Variety has learned.
According to multiple sources, the “SVU” shake-up was a call made from above, with one insider noting that the company is always looking to keep the show as up to date and current as possible. Mariska Hargitay, who is both the star and an executive producer on the Dick Wolf drama, as well as at least one other producer pushed to keep Giddish on the procedural, but the decision had already been made.
Additionally, salary negotiations were part of the conversation and, ultimately, a compromise couldn’t be made.
Giddish confirmed her exit in a statement on Wednesday, writing, “I wanted to address the chatter I’ve seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on ‘Law & Order: SVU.’ Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the ‘Law & Order’ family for the last 12 years. There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She’s grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I’m grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life.”
Graziano, who was named new showunner when Warren Leight exited after Season 23, responded to the news after angry fans began tagging him in social media messages. “You might take a moment to entertain the idea that things are more complex than they appear in a world of emojis and tweets. All I’ll say is Kelli has handled this with the most incredibly classy comportment,” he wrote in the comments section of Giddish’s Instagram post. “She is, without a doubt, one of the finest industry professionals I’ve come across in my 24 years of writing television. I’m saddened by her looming exit. It’ll be my lucky day if I ever get to write for her again.”
Giddish joined the series for Season 13 in 2011, alongside Hargitay, Ice-T and Peter Scanavino. Scanavino’s Carisi entered a romantic relationship with Rollins at the end of last season. Following the exit news, producer Julie Martin promised fans via Twitter that the duo “will have a happy ending.”
Giddish will appear on the Season 24 premiere, a three-hour crossover event with “Organized Crime” and the “Law & Order” flagship series, set to air on Sept. 22.
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