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Larry King Live

The Cast of `Law and Order' Gets Interrogated

Aired April 12, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET



JERRY ORBACH, ACTOR: Welcome to Rikers, Mr. King.

LARRY KING, HOST: This is a joke.

ORBACH: You're not going to get out of this one.

KING: Ah, this is nothing.

ORBACH: Have a seat.

KING: Have a seat!

ORBACH: You know we got you dead to rights.

KING: What? You got no prints -- no prints!

ORBACH: We don't need them.

KING: You got any blood samples.

ORBACH: Don't need them.

KING: Yeah, don't need them. Well, you don't need them because you don't have anything on me.

S. EPATHA MERKERSON, ACTRESS: All right, Mr. King, you've got one last chance. You've lied to my detectives. Don't you lie to me!

KING: I am not lying!

MERKERSON: Explain these.

KING: Oh, jeez!



KING: Tonight, the cast of the longest-running drama on television: Join the detectives and prosecutors of "Law & Order." They're here for the full hour. It's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE. We've got a great show for you tonight, the cast of "Law & Order," one of my favorite, if not my favorite, television shows, now in its 10th year on NBC. Let's meet them. We begin with Angie Harmon, who plays assistant DA, Abbie Carmichael, and in between, gets engaged on television...


KING: ... Sam Waterston, who's one of my favorite actors and who plays assistant DA Jack McCoy; the ageless Steven Hill, better known as District Attorney Adam Schiff; Jerry Orbach, who's done it all and who plays detective Lenny Briscoe; Jesse L. Martin, who plays detective Eddie Green; and Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lt. Anita Van Buren. They're all with us, and later, we'll include your phone calls.

We'll start with the dean of the characters, Steven Hill, who has been there for every show but the first one.

What happened? Why weren't you on the first one?

STEVEN HILL, ACTOR: Well, it was their mistake.

KING: How did you get in too early to get this unusual part?

HILL: How did I get...

KING: Yes, how did you get this?

HILL: Well, somebody got a crazy idea, you know, that I might be OK to do the part, and I don't know where it came from.


KING: Did you like it right away?

HILL: It took me a little while to get used to it, because I don't and I still don't understand too much about how law works.


KING: You're kidding?

HILL: Yeah, but I'm used to it a little now after 10 years. And hopefully, I'll understand something...

KING: By the time it goes off?

HILL: Yes, thank you.


KING: Epatha, how did they find you? And how did you get that name?

MERKERSON: Which.... KING: "Epatha."

MERKERSON: Which question do you want answered first?

KING: The name.

MERKERSON: The name. The name was given to me by my parents, and my mom said that my dad had a teacher that was very influential on keeping him in school, and her name was Epatha, but my mother said it was an old girlfriend.


MERKERSON: So I'm inclined to believe my mother.

KING: Your dad never got over her.


KING: How did you get this part?

MERKERSON: It was a hair thing. I had done a couple of shows for NBC, and they thought that probably my hair like this -- I would be saturated for some strange reason.

KING: I mean, did they see you as someone who had...

MERKERSON: They didn't see Van Buren looking like this, so I took my hair out, brushed it back, put a bow in the end and walked into the room with Dick Wolf, who proceeded to laugh for like two minutes straight, and literally, it was a hair thing.

KING: And you've been on seven years now?

MERKERSON: This is the end of my seventh.

KING: Orbach.


KING: How long have you been on?

ORBACH: This is my eighth season.

KING: And you were a character once, you were guested once?

ORBACH: I guested once as a defense lawyer it, played Shirley Knight's attorney.

KING: Do they ever show that episode when they show all these...

ORBACH: Yes, they do show it once in a while. People get very confused.

KING: Now you were the third in the line of those detectives, right? ORBACH: That's right. The first year was George Dzundza and the second year was Paul Sorvino.

KING: Paul only did one year, right?

ORBACH: Yes, he did one year and a few episodes of the next year.

KING: Did you want this? I mean, did you say to yourself I wanted to do television for this long? The show was a hit pretty early, right?

ORBACH: Yes, it was a hit. I had done a couple of things sort of like this. I did that spin-off for "Murder She Wrote," "The Long Harry McGraw," but that was out in Los Angeles, and "Law & Order" shoots in New York, which is like...

KING: Home?

ORBACH: ... 80 percent of the reason that I wanted to do it. It's wonderful. I get to stay home and work. It's great.

KING: Sam Waterston...


KING: You've got to answer this. I asked her about her name. Why are there two T's? You want to say "Waterston."

SAM WATERSTON, ACTOR: Well, go ahead.


KING: It's an unusual -- you must have had this all of your life -- Waterston.

WATERSTON: Well, it was my father's name.

KING: You've done many movies, appeared in many, many things. This is what year in this?

WATERSTON: This is the sixth.

KING: How did you get the part?

WATERSTON: Well, when Michael Moriarty didn't want to do it anymore, Dick Wolf pretended that there was only one person who could replace him, and I believed him.

KING: And it was you.

WATERSTON: I believed him and I talked to Sam and got all of these people's jobs.


KING: I am working my way down here.

Michael left on principle, right? Did he have an argument?

WATERSTON: I don't know. You'd have to ask him.

KING: Oh, Sam, why did he leave?


KING: Why did he leave?

WATERSTON: Really, I think you would have to ask him, and he's not here.

ORBACH: Michael went through some very troubling times there, emotionally, and he thought that -- he was having some big, major problems. Steven can probably bear this out. And at some point I said, gee, what happens if Michael kind of goes over the edge and just is incapable of going on anywhere? And Dick Wolf said "I've got two words for you." I said "What?" He said "Sam Waterston."

KING: He obviously, in saying that, knew you would take it?

WATERSTON: No, I don't see how he could -- well, maybe he did. He said he knew something I didn't know.

KING: But you liked it right away, one would guess?

WATERSTON: I did like it. I mean, I liked it for the reasons that Jerry has mentioned. I have been on the road for well over a decade really, and when I say "on the road," I mean all over the planet.

KING: Theater, movies and everything?

WATERSTON: Siberia, places like that.

KING: Literally?

WATERSTON: Yes, Tixie, Siberia. You ever heard of it?



KING: No one did.

WATERSTON: If there was a map here, it would just go right by. It's up there in the right hand corner by Russia.

KING: It's cold.


KING: Angie, how did you get on the show? I am working my way to you. You're the newest. ANGIE HARMON, ACTRESS: Are you preparing over there because -- OK. I was in Los Angeles, and I had just -- everyone was abuzz in L.A. about how "Law & Order" need and new a ADA, and of course...

KING: You read for the part?

HARMON: I read for the part.

KING: were there many ladies there that day?

HARMON: Many, many ladies, many hopeful, very beautiful ladies.

KING: When you have an audition, you're all looking at each other, what happens?

ha: You tend to do that. Either you buck up or you I guess fall apart.

KING: Did you have to do a second reading?

HARMON: Yes, I did, and that was for the networks, and that's kind of intimidating. They call it a test, and you walk in, and it was my first test actually, and you know, the presidents of NBC are there, and every high, heavy hitter you can imagine is in there, and you know, Dick Wolf as well, and all of his people and you have to go in...

KING: Scary.

HARMON: It is. It is. It's very intimidating. But you can use that, and I think my character would have thrived on something like that.

KING: We'll get the saga of Jesse Martin after we come back.

They got Jesse out of "Rent." This is an unusual group. It's a great show, and there's lots to talk about.

And as we go to a break, here's a scene from one of the multitudes of "Law & Orders" -- watch.


MERKERSON: Did you hear this confession?


ORBACH: Do you want to look over this DD5 before I file it?


MARTIN: Lucky he fessed up.

ORBACH: Yep, lucky.

MARTIN: How'd you get it out of him so quick? ORBACH: What's that mean?

MARTIN: I'm just saying, it's pretty amazing, you're alone with the guy for 10 seconds, and he gives it up.

ORBACH: You don't believe it happened?

MARTIN: Hey, I'm just asking how.

ORBACH: I've been doing this for 25 years. I think I've earned the right not to be second-guessed.

We are charging Sabo with the murder?

MARTIN: Let's see what ballistics says about his gun.




ORBACH: And here we have the forensics lab where they do...

KING: Autopsy.

ORBACH: Autopsy room.

KING: Boy.

ORBACH: And we move it around a little bit. We can do various things with it. We just did a scene this morning with Leslie Hendricks (ph), who plays a medical examiner.

KING: People who design this would go to a real morgue, right?

ORBACH: That's right.

KING: And ape that as best they could -- the jars.

ORBACH: They take pictures and then they just re-create it.



HARMON: At first glance, it looks like the baby was more than likely put in the bag and buried alive.

MARTIN: He looks like skin and bones. What did he die of?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Hard to tell -- asphyxiation, dehydration, exposure. I don't know until I do the autopsy.

MARTIN: How can a baby live like that?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: The Mexican earthquake? The baby survived nine days buried alive.

HARMON: Arrest the son of a bitch.


KING: As you can tell, we got a walking tour of the set the other day and that will continue. You'll see other shots an as we go along.

And now let's meet Jesse Martin, who plays detective Eddie Green, his first year on the show.

MARTIN: That's right.

KING: OK, what happened? They got you -- they saw you in "Rent?"

MARTIN: I have no idea Where Dick wolf became aware of me.

KING: But they called you, right?

MARTIN: No, I called them. A little bird told me that Ben Bratt was leaving the show pretty much right after he decided to leave, and I called Dick Wolf and met him at his office out in L.A. and I pretty much begged for the job.

KING: Did they say they want and black detective?


KING: Did that play any part in it?

MARTIN: No. I had no idea what they were looking for. They could have been a female detective. All I knew is that there was a spot, and I wanted to take it.

KING: Why?

MARTIN: Because it's a -- when I was, you know, just getting out of school here in New York, I mean, "Law & Order" was the show that every actor in New York wanted to be on. And if you were a good actor, you were "Law & Order" at some point in your career.



MARTIN: But it was literally the show to be on. So you know, I never got a guest spot.

KING: Accepting that as true, why would any actor watching this tonight -- young actor, old actor, any actor -- want to be on "Law & Order."

MARTIN: Oh, because of the scripts, the things that we get to say, the things that -- the issues that we get to discover, and talk about, and mold around and...

KING: And the way it's shot too, Jerry?

ORBACH: Well, the way it's shot, but also a very simple fact is that it's shot in New York.

WATERSTON: Yes, it helps actors stay in New York.

ORBACH: An actor -- we all said many years ago that an actor in London, an English actor, gets to do stage, movies, television -- everything in London. In this country, you pretty much have to go to Los Angeles for most film and television work. And actors who want to get their basic training in the theater -- and New York's the place to really do that -- the first steps that they take toward film and television, usually they have to go to Los Angeles.

KING: One of the -- many unusual aspects of the show, Sam, is that it is script driven, right?


KING: Because we know very little about all of you. There were a couple of shows where we learned your father was a cop and -- but basically, it's story driven.


KING: Is that more difficult to play?

WATERSTON: Than characters?

KING: Yes.

WATERSTON: I don't know if it's more difficult to play. It might be simpler to play. But I think it's more satisfying for an audience because it's so cramped with narrative, you know.

KING: We're following the plot?

WATERSTON: You get a lot -- you know, you get about three movies in 40 minutes.

KING: You do.

Steven, why is your character always so negative?

HILL: I want to tell you, I have been studying these scenes that you have been showing on this show tonight, all of them, up to now, and in every one of these scenes, practically, we only see the police department.


HILL: Wait a minute, Larry, just a minute. In all seriousness, Larry, I want to ask you something, is the audience ever going to see any scenes that I'm in, or Sam or Angie tonight? I'd be curious... (LAUGHTER)

KING: I'll tell you. You've asked a good question. I have no idea.


KING: But they'll tell me. Are we going to see any scenes with the prosecutors? Yes.

HILL: Yes.

KING: OK, Steven, now...

MERKERSON: The second half of the show.

KING: You know, you're just like you all are on the show, you're arrogant.

MERKERSON: Pardon me.

KING: I want to ask you something.

HILL: What?

KING: Why is your character always, in every script, when we go to you, you're telling them, it will never work, this is a failure, the case is doomed. Why?

HILL: I want to tell you something, I was thinking about this idea before I came here tonight, and as I have been sitting here looking at you and studying all about the LARRY KING show...

KING: And?

HILL: ... which is really represented by you.

KING: Yes.

HILL: And I'm thinking to myself, I'm trying to figure out, what kind of a budget does this show have? And I thought to myself -- I mean, this in all seriousness -- I thought to myself, here we are -- you usually have one guest or maybe two, but here you've got the whole cast...

KING: Right.

HILL: ... from the show, six of us, and the budget must be incredible.

ORBACH: We're not getting paid, Steven.

HILL: Oh, really?

ORBACH: Did somebody tell you we were getting paid?

KING: When we come back, there will be five of us here. And as we go to break, we will satisfy Mr. Hill -- watch.



HILL: The law has patience -- TV cameras don't.

HARMON: Then let's go after her. She's the one who decided to have the baby.

WATERSTON: Which means what? The father bears no responsibility for the child?

HARMON: I'm not saying that. But women have fought to control their reproductive rights, and with those rights comes a greater responsibility. Politically correct or not, the mother was this child's primary caregiver.

WATERSTON: Forget whether or not we can convict her alone. Should we? And I'm not asking you as a lawyer.

HARMON: Yes. I think it's the right thing to do.

WATERSTON: Even if it means we have to make a deal with the husband?


WATERSTON: Then you should try the case.

HILL: I can see the feminist fusillade in the op-eds.

WATERSTON: What? The case was assigned to Judge Rebecca Steinman. A woman will be presiding over Amy Beltran's trial, a woman will be prosecuting her, and you can bet a woman will be defending her.

HILL: Now I guess there's nothing left for us to do but to take our cigars and brandy and retire to the smoking room.




KING: So you actually used a courthouse before, and now you've built a courthouse.

ORBACH: That's right. And what's nice about this is the walls can be moved, the ceiling moves, we can put all the lights we want. The jury can be over there. It's all changeable and movable.

KING: You get the feel you're really in a place, right?

ORBACH: Yes. KING: Like you're in Rikers Island, you feel you're in Rikers Island.

ORBACH: Sure. Sure.

KING: And that adds to the acting, right?

ORBACH: Absolutely.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Answer the question, detective.

ORBACH: I had two daughters. One of them was murdered.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Because she turned state's evidence in a drug case?

ORBACH: She was going to testify against a dealer.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So she was selling drugs herself.

HARMON: Objection!


ORBACH: Yes, she was selling drugs.


KING: Do you -- let's take it through a script. You get script. Do you have to say every line given you, Jerry?

ORBACH: Well, we pretty much do, but...

KING: Can you say I'm not comfortable with this?

ORBACH: Yes. Well, Ed Sherin, as a matter of fact, our executive producer, instituted something a few years ago, a script meeting. We get the script. The writer of that particular script, our line producer, our executive producer, they fly in from California, everybody gets together, we sit around a table, because of the way that the show is done in two halves, while they're filming, we read through our half, and while they're filming, they read through their half pretty much. And it's like reading a new play for a Broadway show. We get to have some input. We argue about this, that, say I wouldn't say that that way. What do you think he should do? And we get some input on it, hash it out, and they go and rewrite it.0 which is great.

KING: None of you have anything to do, right, Angie, with script selection, in other words, the story they're going to do that week?

HILL: The story no, not really. I mean, they basically take everything. Most things...

MERKERSON: Sometimes there have been stories that cast members have suggested that they -- you know, at the end season, we do a big meeting, and we talk about the year, how the year was, and what kinds of things we'd like to see for the following year. And there have been suggestions in those meetings that have shown up in scripts the next year.

KING: Is almost all of them based on a true crime kind of story we've seen.

WATERSTON: Yes, almost all.

ORBACH: Pretty much. Sometimes...

WATERSTON: But changed around and made unrecognizable and...

KING: Yes, you'll do things like the same week that Susan Smith -- and we just had her mother on -- murdered her children, you did an episode on a mother who killed her children. Sometimes you're ahead of events.

HARMON: Close.

KING: But I know if I see a certain crime take place in and around New York or a crime that gets allot of attention, we're going to see it on "Law & Order," right?

ORBACH: Probably. And then what they explained to me one day, I said gee, this was a great case, this thing from the paper, and Dick said, yes, but what's the legal problem in the second half?

HARMON: Right.

ORBACH: Yes, that's right, because now they have to make some kind of complication that they have to deal with in the second half. Just solving the crime is only half of it, so it's pretty complicated.

KING: Might you ever deal with a case before that -- like let's say the Ramsey murder, where we have the murder of a child and the parents are the suspects?

MERKERSON: Before the -- yes, and certainly, it will seem similar, but we have to find ways to really change it so as not to be sued. I mean, that's the main reason why...,

KING: You've got to watch that a lot.

MERKERSON: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Do you get people, Jesse, that think you're a detective?

MARTIN: No, not usually.

KING: On the street, you don't run into people...

MARTIN: No, they're very much aware that I'm an actor.

KING: We'll be right back with our cast of "Law & Order." We'll be including your phone calls. They're with us for the full hour.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What's this got to do with the lineup?

HARMON: Somebody saw Michael Tobin get out of an RMP up in Harlem just before he was killed.


HARMON: That's confidential.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We were in Charlie sector all night. Look, why would we ride around with this kid.

MERKERSON: Maybe you're using him as a CI?


MERKERSON: Then you won't mind if you look at your memo books.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Don't you need to go through IAB?

HARMON: IAB doesn't have jurisdiction. This is a murder investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You got the two guys.

HARMON: Whoever dropped Michael Tobin off wasn't looking out for his welfare.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh. Well, before we give up any paperwork, I think we need to get with our PDA rep.

MERKERSON: Stay in touch.




ORBACH: This is Sam's office. Nice, all wood paneled and a lot of books, very lawyerly.

KING: Very lawyerly.



WATERSTON: CSU luminoled (ph) every conceivable spot in the Telfrence (ph) building and didn't find a drop of blood.

HARMON: We have the splatter games, violent behavior, the illegal weapons. There's no way to get it in.

HILL: Where did he get the weapons?

HARMON: Mail order, paid for with his father's credit card.

HILL: Kid gets off, father buys the son a bazooka.

Charge the father.

HARMON: With providing the instrumentality?

HILL: With murder.

WATERSTON: On what basis?

HILL: Depraved indifference.

WATERSTON: Hold the father responsible for the criminal acts of the son?

HILL: You don't think he's responsible?

HARMON: Morally maybe.

HILL: That's good enough for me. It's about time we knocked some sense into these parents.


KING: Steven, I know you were kidding earlier, but do you get to learn a lot about the law through this? All of these years you've been doing it, you must have learned a lot about criminal law?

HILL: I have learned a lot about it, but nothing sticks.


KING: in other words, there's no way you could go downtown tomorrow and be a district attorney?

HILL: No way!

KING: You have no idea?

HILL: No idea at all, except "I object," or "Sustained" or...


KING: You don't even know what that means.


KING: Sam, what's it -- this is for fall you. When you're playing the same character over and over, is that harder or easier to do when you're in your sixth year of being Sam?

WATERSTON: I think it's easier to do, although I think it's more or less like being in the long run of a stage play.

KING: Do you try to...

WATERSTON: You know, there's a kind of art where -- and when you're at the bottom of one of these curves, you think, if I have to do this again, I'll shoot myself, and it will never have any life in it ever again, and the whole thing is dead and I should quit, and then the next day you come in and it all suddenly feels alive again.

KING: I know in theater, actors have told me they try to look for something new every night, to give some vitality.

Do you try to look for something new in your character?

MERKERSON: Well, it's kind of difficult, because the writing happens in Los Angeles. I think, basically, what I try to do is be consistent, not necessarily something new, but consistency, because after, you know, seven years, sometimes things that I did the second year are forgotten by the writers, because they have so many characters they have to write for. So it's almost, you know, keeping in touch with what has been known of the character and staying consistent with that.

KING: We'll ask this entire panel why this show works, why it's so popular, why it's longevity, and we'll include your phone calls. The cast of "Law & Order" is with us.

We'll be right back.


KING: Janet Reno, as you know, is in Miami tonight, and she has just left the home of Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin of Barry College. Let's pick up what they're talking about.


SISTER JEANNE O'LAUGHLIN, PRESIDENT, BARRY UNIVERSITY: A heavy conversation between the family, the attorney general, and the commissioner of the INS. The attorney general listened carefully to what the Gonzalez family had to say. She was very attentive, took numerous notes, and she listened to everything they had to say. She was very respectful, and they were very honest.

The pain of this family and their understanding of the pain of Juan Miguel was very evident, and they have expressed over and over again their loving family and their desire to be a loving family whole again.

It is very difficult to know how it will unfold at this point. The lawyers will be meeting, and they will be talking to the attorney general some time this evening or early in the morning. I sincerely believe that with all the concern and the prayer within this community that there will be a meaningful, nonviolent solution no matter what final decisions are made. It is my hope and it is the hope of the family that as we rest tonight, weary from the day, that in the morn we will be re-energized and recommitted to following both the law and responding, hopefully in truth, to justice.

KING: We will elaborate on this more, of course, at the top of the hour, and this continuing story, and CNN is following it around the clock as well, as we are on this program. Obviously, the lawyers and Ms. Reno will get together. She said maybe tonight, certainly tomorrow morning.

Is this something we might see on "Law and Order"?

ORBACH: Only if somebody gets killed I think.

KING: Somebody -- there has to be a murder?

ORBACH: Somebody might get killed over this, but we haven't seen that yet.

KING: But I can see...

MERKERSON: The mother was killed.

KING: The mother was. But I can see you doing a scene of a protest in Central Park dealing with a kid, someone is killed with the Park. How do we charge them? Right? This is the kind of thing "Law and Order" does?

MERKERSON: Very much so.

ORBACH: We just had a thing of 15 young Chinese girls in a container on a ship who were smuggled over here, and at the end of it, the INS is sending them back. And Steven, didn't you say: It would have been easier if it was a young Cuban boy? They would have gotten to stay here, you know.

We get into those issues, yes.

KING: You even used John Rocker the other night. You used the term "don't rockerize me."


Even heard my own name mentioned once in a court case. What am I going to go on "LARRY KING"?

WATERSTON: We're going to mention your name a whole more often now.


KING: Thanks. All right. Let's start with -- I guess the youngest member here is Angie. Why does this show work? HARMON: The writers definitely.

KING: It's all in the script?

HARMON: It is. I mean, I think the -- that attachment that each actor has to their character is -- is wonderful and incredible, and we all put our own thing into it. But it is definitely the writers, which is kind of sad because, you know, it's not like our writers in California throw on a pair of jeans and sweatshirts and head off to the store and are mobbed by people: "Oh, I love your show. You're so fantastic. You're so wonderful."

KING: No one knows them.

HARMON: They don't recognize them. They don't see their face every Wednesday night. But it is the writers.

KING: And there are -- there are, right, different writers every right, right?

MERKERSON: Well, we have -- I think we have...

KING: Is there a core staff?

MERKERSON: A core staff of writers. But I also think that it's the fact that it's an hour movie. You watch the beginning, you watch the end, and it's over. It's rare that the show does a two-parter. So you don't have to worry about what you have to wait for next week.

KING: But sometimes, Steven, it leaves you unresolved, right? I mean, everything doesn't always tie together, as life doesn't always tie together.

HILL: Yes.

KING: Why do you think this show works?

HILL: Well, I think what you just said I think is pretty much on the money, which is as life doesn't always turn out the way you would expect.

KING: And it doesn't turn out a lot of times, Jesse, we're disappointed in the outcome. I don't agree with the decision. I get mad at "Law and Order" sometimes.

MARTIN: But that happens in life. I mean, you read the paper. Don't you get mad at some of the things that are decided, you know? I mean, it's real. I love that. A lot of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) doesn't get wrapped up.

KING: Do you like being a cop?

ORBACH: I like being this cop. Yes.


KING: By the way, do all of you like the people you play? And is that necessary? Sam, do you have to like that character?

WATERSTON: Yes, I like -- you have to like them, because you have to lend yourself to him. You don't have to agree with everything that he stands for.

KING: Or approve of what he does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approve of what he does.

KING: But when you play him...

WATERSTON: You have to like him. Meryl Streep said that the job of an actor is to stand up for the character, and I think that's pretty good.

ORBACH: I'm sure that Richard III and Iago didn't think they were bad guys.

KING: Hitler didn't comb his hair and say, I'm terrible.

ORBACH: That's right.



ORBACH: He thought was he all right.

KING: So if you play him terrible, you're going to miss the whole...


MARTIN: It would be terrible.

KING: We'll be right back. We will definitely before the end of the hour ask Angie about being engaged on television on "David Letterman"...

HARMON: Jay Leno.

KING: Oh, it was Jay Leno. I'm sorry.


ORBACH: Those two guys...

KING: They've become almost interchangeable.


KING: And -- oh. And we'll also take your phone calls for the cast of "Law and Order." Don't go away.


MERKERSON: Mr. Bauer, hold your hands out so the detectives can put the handcuffs on.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Come on, Harvey, put our your hands like we talked about.

MARTIN: What's that in his pocket?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It's just a wrench.

MARTIN: Take it out of his pocket.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: He's not going to use it. He just feels safe with it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Get out! Go! Get out! Get away!

MERKERSON: Keep back.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Take it easy, man. Take it easy.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Don't touch her.


MERKERSON: Hold fire! Hold fire!


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Looks like he caught it in the shoulder.


MERKERSON: Call paramedics. Who fired? I want to know who fired.

You fired?


MERKERSON: Hand over your weapon. Sergeant, call your precinct: officer-involved shooting.

You better call your PDA.




KING: You've got to have a lot of fun sometimes, right? ORBACH: Oh, yes.

KING: Extras bang into each other.

ORBACH: Oh, we have a lot of fun.

KING: A cop -- an extra who actually believes he's a cop.

ORBACH: I think the silliest one was a couple of years ago. Benjamin Bratt and I were standing like this on the street up on Broadway around -- in the 90s. We were this far apart in the middle of a scene shooting. And a guy just came through like this and walked right through.


That was pretty good, and we just kept going, you know.


KING: Welcome back. We've got the cast of "Law and Order" with us. The prosecutors: Angie Harmon, who plays Assistant DA Abbie Carmichael; Sam Waterston, who plays assistant DA Jack McCoy; and Steven Hill, better known as District Attorney Adam Schiff. Now the detectives: Jerry Orbach -- he is Detective Lennie Briscoe -- Jesse L. Martin, who plays Detective Eddie Green; and S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lieutenant Anita Van Buren.

We are going to take a phone call, and we go to Pittsburgh. Hello.



CALLER: I'm a huge fan of the show. I've been watching it for years.

I understand the show is story-driven, and that's part of the reason we love it so much. But I'm curious why we don't get to know a little bit more about the characters. I mean, we've heard about Sam's ex-wives, and that's about it. And I'd just like to get to know -- we have no idea what Angie is doing with her time. I just would really like...

WATERSTON: That would be...

CALLER: ... to get some more.

WATERSTON: That would be Jack's ex-wives.

KING: Jack, not Sam.

HARMON: And Abbie was...

KING: But we know Jerry had a problem with his daughter, right? We don't know anything about -- we know you have two kids and you're divorced. right?


KING: No, you're not divorced.

HARMON: And we do know that Abbie was raped in college, and that's part of her vendetta for cleaning up society.

KING: That's right. That we know. We know nothing about you.

MERKERSON: He lost his wife .

HILL: He lost his wife.

KING: Would you like to do some more shows, Jesse, where we learn more about Eddie?

MARTIN: Well, you know, it's -- that's a hard one to answer, because as I've been doing this whole season, I've started to realize the more there is about our characters individually the more indulgent it seems. Like it almost seems like it takes away from the story to stop and sort of comment on our own selves. I just -- I think I would...

KING: So you wouldn't agree if they said, let's do a whole script, like you did once, where each of you -- we learned a great deal about you from -- they did a little episode around each. That wouldn't work?

ORBACH: The audience -- the audience felt that that wasn't "Law and Order."

KING: Really?

ORBACH: The times that we have done personal things, except for that one time when everybody had a problem...


You know, it was a mess. But the times when we dropped in a few minutes of personal things it's been within another story, and that's been very difficult. We've teased the audience with it a little bit and given them a little flavor of certain things happening, like when my daughter on the show got killed, but there's never been a whole story about something personal.

That might be...

KING: Last night, in fact, there was a story where you shot someone.


KING: Teller machine.

MERKERSON: What I was going to say is although you don't see our home lives what you do get is our opinions about things in the way the cases are work. You know, you might hear about my son having a friend that did such and such or knows someone. So I think that within the working of the cases you find out.

KING: But you want to keep it that way?

WATERSTON: But you see people at work, which is what I think everybody can...



WATERSTON: ... about.

KING: ... it's people at work.

WATERSTON: And when you're at work, they don't say: "How's your wife? Tell me all about it."


WATERSTON: They say: "Oh, you're wife's sick. I'm sorry to hear it. Are you OK to work?" And that's pretty much the way we go.

KING: When we go to break, we're going to show the clip of how you got engaged. Now did you know -- did you that Mr. Sehorn of the New York Giants was there that night?

HARMON: I knew he was there. I did not know my father was there.

KING: You did not know he was going to come out?

HARMON: No, I had no idea, no idea at all.

KING: And did he take any risk in asking? Was there a chance you would have said no?


HARMON: Well, I think that's why he did it in the large scale that he did, was he had a pretty good feeling I'd say yes.

KING: Here is what happened on "The Tonight Show" with the soon- to-be Mrs. Sehorn. Watch.


JAN LENO, HOST: Suppose he wanted to come out?

HARMON: I don't think he would.

LENO: If I say his name, let's see if he comes out.



His name is Jason Sehorn. He plays with the New York Giants.

Jason, are you there? Jason.

HARMON: Oh my god.


LENO: He's a good-looking guy. He's a good-looking guy. How are you?



LENO: Do you want to...


HARMON: Hi. What are you doing?

SEHORN: Will you marry me?


HARMON: Jason, oh my god. Baby, oh.

LENO: Look at that ring.


Even Elton is jealous.


SEHORN: And...

HARMON: Yes. Yes.

LENO: Is that a yes?


LENO: Yea! Now, wait a minute. Hang on. Wait a minute. We have to -- hang on. We have to get...






MERKERSON: How's a young woman working her way through grad school afford breast implants?

MARTIN: Her parents didn't pay for it.

MERKERSON: Was she seeing anyone?

ORBACH: Her boyfriend in Terre Haute. He hasn't taken any trips lately.

MARTIN: Her parents say she didn't have time for a social life at school.

MERKERSON: Well, I get the feeling this girl wasn't keeping her parents up to date.

ORBACH: They mentioned a friend, a girl named Penny Rollins. She's been on a camping trip in Utah the past couple of weeks. She's flying back tonight.

MARTIN: While we're waiting, we go down to Wall Street and talk to the place where Lizzie Cavender (ph) worked.

MERKERSON: You read my mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And cut! Very nice.

Once more please.


KING: And you had to do that scene 22 times.




KING: I thought you were perfect every time.

WATERSTON: Not in the history of "Law and Order."


KING: You don't do scenes over?

WATERSTON: We do them over. There have -- there have been...

KING: Something was cracking you up the whole time.

MERKERSON: Jerry and Jesse. It happens consistently.

KING: Let's take another call. Pismo Beach, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi. I would just like know how Epatha got from being a janitor where her son was killed by a gang member...


CALLER: Epatha, yes.

MERKERSON: Night school.

CALLER: ... and then she became head of the department?

MERKERSON: Night school.

KING: How did you get to be head of the department?

MERKERSON: Night school.

KING: Night school. See, we don't know, right?

MERKERSON: I did it -- I did an episode in the very first season of the show where I played a cleaning lady. And so a lot that happens on the Internet, a lot, people want to know how did she go from being Denise Winters, the cleaning lady, to Anita Van Buren. And I said, she went to night school, changed her name, and got married.


KING: Is this cultish? You're on the Internet. People can look up, they know about what's going on. They know about episodes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh yes, very much so.

KING: People have favorite episodes?

ORBACH: Very much so.


ORBACH: Very much so we hear.

HARMON: And we hear that if -- they've kind of gotten to the point where even if a car door isn't shut all the way shut in one shot but it was in the one before it, they'll write in and say, you know, the car door -- the left -- the passenger car door on the second cop car wasn't...

WATERSTON: But we don't want to seem to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...


(LAUGHTER) KING: How long does it take, Steven, to do a show? A one-hour show takes how long?

HILL: It takes -- shooting days, it takes eight shooting days, and then another couple to three weeks to finish the editing of the show, I think. Is that about right?

KING: But you don't have anything to do with the editing? You shoot in eight days and then you start again?

HILL: And I also have very little to do with the show.


KING: You're a cool guy, Steven. You've got the best job in television. You amble in. You have no interest in this part.

HILL: Right.

KING: You have no interest in this character. You have no interest in the law.

HILL: Right.

KING: Right?

HILL: But I want to tell you something.

KING: You're an eastern -- you're an eastern Brando!

HILL: Just a minute, Larry. Now wait a minute. I want to tell you something. I like the check when it comes in that week.



MERKERSON: There you go.

KING: New Milford, Connecticut, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I just want to ask Jesse what's the -- what is the -- what the main differences are, I'm sorry, between working on "Law and Order," especially with those producers, versus working with Ally McBeal and specifically David Kelley? I know he's pretty eccentric. And...

MARTIN: How did you hear that?

CALLER: He's extremely bright.

MARTIN: How did you...

CALLER: Of course I think "Law and Order" has been highly underestimated all of these years, and I'm so pleased that you joined the cast. KING: What's the biggest difference, Jesse?

MARTIN: One's in L.A. and one's in New York. I mean, I think...

KING: That's all?

MARTIN: Well, that's the biggest difference, and that was the most notable difference to me.

KING: What about Kelley and Wolf?

MARTIN: Both of them very great people.

KING: Perfectionists?

MARTIN: Huh? No, I wouldn't say so. No. They leave room for human error. You know, you have to.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments of LARRY KING LIVE for this night. Tomorrow night, the author of a new book on the Ramsey case that's very, very controversial. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And cut! Very nice. One more please.



ORBACH: There will be more "Law and Order" right here on LARRY KING in a minute.



KING: ... looking at it. What's the pin?

ORBACH: This is -- this is a guardian angel. My wife, Elaine, gave me this. It's my guardian angel actually.

KING: It looks over you?


KING: Are you superstitious or you...

ORBACH: No, I'm not superstitious. I like the way it looks, and people ask about it. And I wear -- on the show I wear a Detectives Endowment Association Pin. But I like to carry around this one.

KING: All right. How much longer do you want to do this, Angie? You're going to get married? You're going to be a football wife?

HARMON: Oh, well, I am going to get married, and as long as he's playing football, I'll be a football wife.

KING: I mean, do you want to stay with this show?

HARMON: I definitely want to stay with the show and I'd like -- you know, I want to stay with my career.

KING: Are you committed contractually?

HARMON: I am committed. I have three more years in mine.

KING: Sam, how many more years are you signed for?

WATERSTON: It's unknown.

KING: You don't know how long?

HARMON: That's how good he is!

KING: All right. Both of you got a call today, they want you for a movie, and you love this book and you want to do this movie?

WATERSTON: I could do it.

KING: You could get out of the show?

WATERSTON: Well, not tomorrow.

KING: But you have an out?


KING: Jerry?

ORBACH: I think I have another year contractually. I don't know. We'll have to renegotiate a little bit. I keep hearing stories about some of these people who work for NBC getting cars as presents and...



ORBACH: ... million-dollar bonuses.


ORBACH: We got a little -- we got a little leather briefcase. So you know, I'm ready for next year.

KING: And by the way, Jerry's doing a movie that's going to come out hopefully this fall with Al Pacino called "Chinese Coffee."

ORBACH: "Chinese Coffee."

KING: How long do you want to do this, Jesse, or do you want to go back and do stage work again? MARTIN: I'd love to go back and do stage, but I'd like to do this for quite a while.

KING: How long are you contracted for?

MARTIN: Five years.

KING: Five years?

So someone's expecting this show to go 15 years.

MARTIN: Why not? It think it could.

MERKERSON: They're trying -- Dick's trying to beat the "Bonanza" record, which I think was 20 years.

HARMON: "Gunsmoke."

MERKERSON: "Gunsmoke," I'm sorry, which was 20 years.

KING: How long do you want to do it, Epatha?

MERKERSON: I don't know.


You know, as long as it feels good.

KING: How long are you contracted for?

MERKERSON: Another two, I believe.

KING: So you have two. You have five. You have one. You don't know.

WATERSTON: I might be contracted for another year maybe.

ORBACH: I think so. I think Sam and I are kind of joined at something, you know.

KING: That could be an episode.


ORBACH: That's right.

KING: But you know you've got a couple of years, right?


KING: And Mr. Hill.

HILL: Yes.

KING: How much longer are you committed to this show?

HILL: I'm committed to this show for one more year.

KING: Do you want to stay...

HILL: But I have to tell you something, which I think...

KING: All right. We have a minute left, so -- we began with you. We'll close...

HILL: OK. A lovely girl on the street saw me and she came up to me and she said, I just love what you do on "Law and Order," Mr. Waterston.


And I told her just, you know, simply, get lost!


KING: Will you reup?

HILL: Pardon me?

KING: Will you stay with the show?

HILL: Well, you know, I mean...

KING: I'm running out of time. Will you stay?

HILL: I think I'm in the school of thought of Jerry here, which I never really wanted to go that far and detail about presents from NBC and things like that.


I mean, I think that's a little prosaic.

KING: Thank you all very much. We shall watch the story with even greater interest. In fact, don't turn away from us, because we're following the Gonzalez case on CNN "NEWSSTAND," but they're on in a minute.

Thanks, guys. The cast of "Law and Order." See you tomorrow night with more on the Ramsey case.

I'm Larry King in New York. Good night.



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