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Former ‘Law & Order’ star has ‘cool’ vision for ‘SVU’/‘Chicago Med’ crossover

S. Epatha Merkerson formerly played Lt. Van Buren, but now serves on "Chicago Med."
/ Source: TODAY

In the "Law & Order" universe, there are few veterans with more episodes under their belt than S. Epatha Merkerson. From 1993-2010, over the course of 390 episodes, she played Lt. Anita Van Buren, the tough-but-fair office head at the 27th precinct.

But since 2015, she's had a totally different position, as Sharon Goodwin, head of patient and medical services at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center at "Chicago Med" — a show that like "L&O" was created by Dick Wolf.

S. Epatha Merkerson and Mariska Hargitay at the 2022 NBCUniversal upfront on May 16 in New York City.
S. Epatha Merkerson and Mariska Hargitay at the 2022 NBCUniversal upfront on May 16 in New York City. Raymond Hall / GC Images

So when Merkerson showed up at Monday's NBCUniversal upfront in New York City, palling around with "Law & Order: SVU's" own long-timer Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson), TODAY naturally had to ask: In a crossover between "SVU" and "Med" featuring Merkerson, which character would turn up, Sharon or Anita?

Turns out that Merkerson has thought about this already. "We'd have to go as 'Med,'" she said. "I think it would be like really cool if at some point we do a crossover, and Olivia Benson and I cross paths and we make a stop — a moment to say—"

Just then, "Chicago Fire" star Taylor Kinney jumped in to suggest what they might say: "'Do I know you?'"

Law & Order
(from l.-r.) Ice-T, Merkerson and Hargitay in a 2005 episode of "Law & Order" called "Flaw."NBC

"But it would be good," Merkerson, who won an Emmy in 2005 for her performance in "Lackawanna Blues," added.

Also listening in was "Chicago P.D." star Jason Beghe. He reflected on the crossovers his show has already done with "SVU," and agreed it would be a good time. There have been four crossovers thus far between what's known as the "One Chicago" universe and "SVU," in 2014 (twice), 2015 and 2016. But while many "SVU" stars have made appearances, Merkerson has not had a role in those episodes.

But here's a wild card: What if she turned up in her first "Law & Order" role? Before she became a permanent cast member, Merkerson stunned audiences in the show's 17th episode ("Mushrooms") in 1991, as a grieving mother named Denise Winters.

Chicago Med - Season 7
Merkerson as Sharon Goodwin on "Chicago Med," with a new mother patient. NBC

That would be a deep dive, indeed, and probably be a little confusing to the "Chicago" timeline. But after all, it is about having a good time. Noted Beghe, "We all had fun (on the crossovers). Those are always fun. It's hard. I remember actually that I shot on 'P.D.' until 4 a.m., got a 6 a.m. flight for a 7:30 (a.m.) call in New York and went (on shooting) for 14 hours."