Gary Susman
June 04, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Law & Order” made stars of such little-known actors as Chris Noth, Benjamin Bratt, and Jill Hennessy, but it looks like the new ”Law & Order: Trial by Jury” will rely on established names. Variety reports that the latest series in the ”L&O” franchise, which will debut early next year on NBC, is in talks with Candice Bergen and John Mahoney to play recurring roles as judges. They would join a cast already said to include ”L&O” alums Carey Lowell and Jerry Orbach, reprising their roles as assistant D.A. Jamie Ross and newly retired police detective Lennie Briscoe.

”Trial by Jury” will reportedly use a revolving cast of actors playing lawyers, judges, and investigators involved in specific trials that would run multi-episode arcs. That would work well for actors like Mahoney and Orbach, who both expressed a desire to take it easy after their long runs on series TV — Mahoney’s 11 years on ”Frasier” and Orbach’s 12-year run on the original ”Law & Order.” Bergen, of course, spent 10 years on ”Murphy Brown,” which went off the air in 1998, and in recent years has appeared occasionally as Sarah Jessica Parker’s Vogue editor on ”Sex and the City.” A spokesperson for ”L&O” production company Wolf Films told Variety that it was ”premature to discuss casting,” and that no deals have been finalized.

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