Renaissance Books

We The Jury Find Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion Guilty

...of first-degree hilarious trash-talk and derpy photos of Michael Moriarty playing the piano. CHUNG CHUNG!

The Brand

Law & Order

The Extension

Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion, by Kevin Courrier and Susan Green

Is This A Brand Worth Extending?

Uh duh.

Is This An Extension Worth The Branding?

Oh my God, you guys. YES IT IS. I know you might think, as I did before I cracked the spine, that the cheery yellow "INCLUDES THE ENTIRE 1999 SEASON" "update" splash on the front means L&O:TUC has nothing to tell you -- that the budgey screensaver-esque cover layout and kludgy blurbs on the back mean that even at used-bookstore prices, it's not worth it.

It so, so is.

The back cover also describes Courrier and Green, with stiffly unpromising formality, as "freelance writers who contribute to several periodicals dealing with the pop-culture scene," and their prose isn't great -- lots of flashing eyes, dimpled smiles, straining for adjectival variety. But their access is, and what the text lacks in elegance, it more than makes up for in not only determination (getting unbelievably snarky comments from the L&O cast) but fearlessness (using them, no matter how divisively bitchtastic). Chris Noth talks shit about Dick Wolf. Dick Wolf talks shit about Michael Moriarty. Michael Moriarty talks shit about...who even knows, a crumpled Post-It he thinks looked at him funny. Eeeeeverybody talks shit about George Dzundza.

Want a few highlights while you open Half.com in a new browser tab? My plezh.

  • "According to series regular Dann Florek, 'Dzundza was difficult and mean. Sorvino was difficult but never mean. Sorvino was just kind of a blowhard. On the set one day he said, "I am one of the five greatest living actors." We all just looked at each other and no one knew what to say. It was his shot and he had a line like, "Are you sure the car was brown?" He screwed it up about four times. I just turned to him and said, "Paul, maybe you should make that one of the seven greatest living actors." ...'"
  • Chris Noth calls the "new shows" (i.e., since his departure) "incredibly derivative" in their cinematography.
  • William H. Macy gives the authors a quote about the bravery of the writing, in that the good guys don't always win, and Dick Wolf snorts, "Yeah, we're down here every week doing The Cherry Orchard."
  • Several cast and crewmembers shit-talk NYPD Blue for looking very obviously soundstaged and not New York City.
  • Dzundza thought, per Florek, "'that it was going to be the Greevey show,'" and though he sort of tries to speak graciously to the authors, it doesn't quiiiiite work: "'If you want a serious police drama that's not about naked people, you don't have any other choice really." Oh.
  • Jill Hennessy corrects Dick Wolf on what a feminist is.
  • Carey Lowell studied documentary filmmaking at NYU at one point.

The book is packed with fantastic quotes and trivia tidbits (as a grad student, Moriarty "thought he saw God in Florence, Italy," which I guess beats thinking you see Him in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey), and a full complement of episode summaries from the first two hundred episodes. I didn't always agree with Courrier and Green's assessments of the eps (they're not fans of the L.A. triptych), but I loved the commentary from the actors and crew, especially Carolyn McCormick on the still-oogy-after-all-these-years "Helpless" in which she's assaulted by her GYN and episode director Constantine Makris on various flavors of actor bullshit.

Once I've finished this piece, my copy L&O:TUC will get the ultimate Buntsy seal of approval: a permanent position in my bedside cupboard. Recommend!

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