UNIQUE ~ DIANE NEAL ONLINE
> LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: 2003 — 2008 (108 Episodes)
“LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT”
Role: Amelia Chase (season 3 only)/Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak (seasons 5-9)
Created by: Dick Wolf
Series Debut: 20 September 1999
First Episode & Airdate: Ridicule — playing Amelia Chase; 14 December 2001
Last Episode & Airdate: Cold — playing ADA Casey Novak; 13 May 2008
Genre(s): Police Proceedural
Tagline: Where risks are taken …
Narration: In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories….
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT was the first of many spin offs of NBC’s staple LAW & ORDER franchise. It follows the lives and cases of the 16th Precinct of Manhattan’s Special Victims Squad who investigate the dark world of rape, sexual abuse, child abuse and child sexual abuse, and abuse against the elderly. The series stars Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler, a hard-nosed and slightly volital cop coping with the aspects of his job as it impacts his personal life with his family. Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson, a loner who as the child of rape herself deals with the day-to-day cases that bring her somewhat closer to finding out about herself as well as the cases she investigates. The series also stars Richard Belzer as Detective Sergeant John Munch, a hard-boiled and very jaded man whose sarcasm helps get him through. Rapper Ice-T as Detective Odafin ‘Finn’ Tutola, formerly of the Narcotics Division, Finn was transferred over to the SVU squad who finds it hard to understand the inhumanity displayed in his work and who is often at odds with Det. Stabler. Former LAW & ORDER alumni Dann Florek transferred from the mothership as Captain Donald Cragen, the ‘dad’ of the squad in charge of his detectives though has a history of alcohol abuse who walks that fine border between sobriety and wanting to forget what he does each day. BD Wong as Dr. George Huang, a psychiatrist who often helps the squad and the District Attorney’s office with many of their cases in trying to understand why the perpetrators commit the crimes they do. Tamara Tunie as Dr. Melinda Warner, works for the Medical Examiner’s office who is the chief coroner to the detectives and who cares very deeply for the ones who come across her table.
The cast was rounded off in season one with Dean Winters as Det. Brian Cassidy, a green cop without the stomach to continue his job, and Michelle Hurd as Det. Monique Jeffries, a tough-as-nails cop whose closeness to her cases put her job in jeopardy. In season two, the cast was joined by Stephanie March as Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot, Novak’s predecessor who had political ambitions until one case forced her into the Witness Protection Program allowing Casey Novak to take her place. In season five, Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch, the one who plucked Novak from blue collar crimes to work on the SVU team. Season eight brought in acclaimed Danish actress Connie Nielsen as Detective Dani Beck, former Warrant Officer Beck joined the SVU team briefly while Benson was conducting an investigation for the FBI. Then finally in season eight, award winning Native American actor and activist Adam Beach as Detective Chester Lake, a ‘special victim’ himself who shared more than sparks with Novak.
Diane Neal on SVU
Initially brought in as a guest star in the series third season episode Ridicule as stock trader Amelia Chase, Diane impressed series creator Dick Wolf so much that when regular Stephanie March announced her decision to leave the show during season four, Diane was brought in to test for the newly minted role of ADA Casey Novak. Casey was introduced in episode four of season five, her first few episodes were difficult to say the least, but Diane seemed to fit in effortlessly within the tight-knit cast of regulars. Signed to a five year contract, Diane seemed to blossom in the later half of season five propelling her own stories as Casey. During season six, Diane’s hair began to be lightened in an attempt to make her more like her predecessor, Stephanie March. The drastic change wasn’t immediately known until Diane mentioned on her Twitter account that she, “always felt like a placeholder until Stephanie March came back.” In essence, Dick Wolf’s intent was not to expand the character of Novak outside of the limited information we found out about her. Though her beginning was strong, Novak suddenly became more of a foil to Det. Benson. It is this webmaster’s belief that co-executive producer Neal Baer found Diane to be competition to his aims of making Mariska Hargitay the defacto Alpha female and pulled back on furthering Diane’s airtime and story possibilities. It wasn’t until Hargitay’s maternity leave during season eight that Diane once again took her place as a bonafide member of the team, however, upon Hargitay’s return Diane’s screentime was reduced to the obligatory two minute arraignment scenes and coat carrier to Benson. With the season eight finale addition of Adam Beach as Det. Chester Lake, an intended love interest for Novak, it was believed that Diane would become a more valued member of the cast. That would be short-lived as during the 2008 Writer’s Guild strike, it was announced that Diane had decided to leave her role. It was later revealed by Diane herself again on her Twitter account, she didn’t want to leave. According to Diane, “Dick Wolf wanted to shake things up.” And he did. Novak and Diane’s time on the show was summed up with an ignoble ending with Novak being disbarred for a Brady Violation. Later it was reported that likely due to Diane’s departure, Adam Beach also left thus facilitating his exit as well as Diane’s the finale to season nine, Cold. In this person’s opinion, there was never any real justification for letting Diane go. Since Diane’s firing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has become one long stream of guest ADAs. Fan reaction has been overall negative on the rotating ADAs and most wanting a return of Diane as Casey. What made Diane so unique to SVU is that newcomers to the show who are either watching it through reruns or dvd rentals or sales is that most cannot believe that Diane played both Amelia and Casey. On most of the message boards I either lurk or have signed up to, most are shocked at how different Diane played both women to the point they are unequivocally stunned she played both. Wolf’s inability to see beyond his ‘shaking things up’ mentality is truly the looser here. Not allowing Diane to show what she can do if given half a chance; example: Svengali, Poison, Downlow, Night, Goliath proves he not only misjudged the popularity of the character, but misjudged his own rank stupidity at believing Diane was expendable. Like S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Jerry Orbach (Detective Lenny Briscoe), Isabel Gillies (Kathy Stabler) and Alfred Molina (Gabriel Duvall), Bebe Neuwirth (ADA Tracy Kibre), Amy Carlson (ADA Kelly Gaffney), who all returned to the L&O spin-offs to play other characters within the family, Diane crafted a character unlike Amelia Chase and gave us Casey Novak. If Dick Wolf has any sense, he’d re-sign Diane. Unlike what he did with Alex Cabot’s character, there is a way to ‘resurrect’ Casey Novak and restore her to her former glory as the only ADA within the Sex Crimes unit with the highest conviction rate. There is a way that would involve either Alex or Judge Mary Clarke (Marlo Thomas), perferrably the latter, who could find out that what Casey did wasn’t illegal and she should never have been put up on disciplinary charges. That is if Wolf is listening. With the likelihood of SVU being renewed for a thirteenth season and the lack of a solid ADA presence, now is the time to bring Diane back. Now is the time to realize what was done was not only wrong, but cruel. Diane Neal was an asset to this show. She should have remained so.
About Amelia Chase
Amelia Chase was a stock trader who along with her friend Attorney Pamela Adler and Sydney Green, raped male stripper Peter Smith. Amelia and Pam conspired to murder Sydney Green who was going to divulge what she knew of the rape of Smith. After their arrest, Chase and Adler put up a united defense until ADA Alexandra Cabot gave Amelia a deal that allowed her less time in prison if she agreed to testify against Pamela. Amelia Chase is currently imprisoned in the New York State Correctional Institution. She isn’t due for parole at least until 2013.
About Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak
Casey Novak came to the attention of District Attorney Arthur Branch whilst attached to the Blue Collar Crimes unit of the NYPD. On her first case as ADA for the Sex Crimes Unit, Casey found herself at odds with the cruelty of the cases she was being asked to prosecute. Having come from blue collar roots, Casey waited tables at the restaurants her upper classmen would dine in in order to make the money to put herself through law school. Showing a knack for the legal process, Casey did her job with passion and heart, treating the victims with dignity and a gentle spirit while prosecuting the perpetrators with a hard edge toward gaining justice for those who were harmed. We find out that Casey had been engaged to a man named Charlie, a manic depressive who at one point beat Casey to the point the police had been called. She identified herself as a member of the office of the District Attorney in order to handle Charlie herself, this would later bring her face to face with new DA Jack McCoy who would frequently clash with Novak over cases Casey felt an affinity to. Casey Novak carried a 71% conviction rate while attached to the Sex Crimes Squad, the highest in the office at that time. Later Casey became enamoured of former Brooklyn Det. Chester Lake. It is intimated that Novak and Lake had an affair to the point that Casey committed a Brady Violation prosecuting a case involving one from Lake’s past. This Brady Violation made Judge Elizabeth Donnelly put Novak up on disciplinary charges thus ending Casey’s tenure as ADA. It was later revealed by ADA Kim Greyleck, Novak’s successor, that Casey had been disbarred.
||Detective Elliot Stabler
||Detective Olivia Benson
||Detective Sergeant John Munch
||Detective Odafin ‘Fin’ Tutola
||Captain Donald Cragen
||Dr. George Huang
||Medical Examiner Melinda Warner
||Detective Chester Lake
||Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot
||Detective/Warrant Officer Dani Beck
||Attorney Trevor Langan
||Detective Brian Cassidy
||Detective Monique Jeffries
|Fred Dalton Thompson
||District Attorney Arthur Branch
||Forensics Tech Ryan O’Halloran
||Judge Elizabeth Donnelly
|Joel de la Fuente
||TARU Tech Ruben Morales
||Judge Lena Petrovsky
||Juege Lois Preston
||Attorney Lionel Granger
||Kathleen Stabler #1
||Kathleen Stabler #2
- Is listed on the season 10 DVD cover even though her last episode was Cold in season nine.
- Can be seen in season six’s Obscene wearing her wedding and engagement rings, or just wedding ring even though Casey wasn’t ever married and in no episode prior or after did she wear them again.
- Husband Marcus Fitzgerald appeared in two episodes of the series. The first was as a patron at a bar Casey, Elliot (Christopher Meloni) and Dani Beck (Connie Nielsen) are at after the case in season eight’s Underbelly, then in season nine in a photo as Casey’s fiancee Charlie in Blinded where we learn that Casey had been beaten up by him and that he had schitophrenia and eventually killed himself.