They wouldn't dare.
Multiple sources are confirming that NBC is threatening to replace Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni on “Law & Order: SVU” if the actors persist in their demands for more money.
Last week, NBC closed a deal with L&O boss Dick Wolf for an 11th season of “SVU” — which, at 10.5 million viewers, remains the Peacock's No. 1 scripted show. That opened the door to a new round of negotiations with the stars, whose $350K-per-episode contracts will expire in May. Yet a source close to the matter said talks stalled when the duo — who, like in their previous negotiations, are banding together — attempted to go after back-end profits, a perk that's almost never granted in the L&O universe (although exceptions were made for Vincent D'Onofrio and Chris Noth).
As a result, NBC cautioned that it may be forced to replace the MVPs — a risky move considering how integral Hargitay and Meloni are to the show. Many feel the Peacock won't make good on its threat (reps for the network, studio and the actors would not comment for this story). "I don't think in this environment, there's any chance they could re-launch the show with both of them gone," says a high-ranking exec at a rival network. "It's a horrible time to retool a show. They already have to change the time-slot, because it's not going to be airing at 10 pm next season." At the same time, a Peacock insider says, "I can't imagine either actor walking away from over $7 million a year."
For now, Wolf is putting a positive face on the talks. Through his spokesman, he said, "It is my fondest hope that both Chris and Mariska will be back next season."
What do you think? Can “SVU” exist without Chris and Mariska?! Cast your votes in the comments section below!