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[12/02/04 - 12:00 AM]
Emmy-Winning Actor Michael Imperioli ('The Sopranos') to Fill in for Jesse L. Martin for Several Episodes of 'Law & Order' While Martin Stars in Film Version of 'Rent'

[via press release from NBC]

EMMY-WINNING ACTOR MICHAEL IMPERIOLI ('THE SOPRANOS') TO FILL IN FOR JESSE L. MARTIN FOR SEVERAL EPISODES OF 'LAW & ORDER' WHILE MARTIN STARS IN FILM VERSION OF 'RENT'

"I'm glad to be on the right side of the law," said Michael Imperioli

BURBANK, Calif. -� December 2, 2004 �- "Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli, the most recent recipient of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, has been signed to fill in for NBC's "Law & Order" star Jesse L. Martin while he stars in the upcoming film version of "Rent," creator and executive producer Dick Wolf announced today.

Imperioli will play the younger detective, nephew and partner of Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina) for the final few episodes of "Law & Order's" 2004-2005 season. The Emmy Award winning Wolf Films/NBC Universal Television Studio series is currently in its 15th season on NBC.

"For the past six years, Jesse has been an 'actor's actor' � an incredible performer, total professional and he is liked by everyone. He had an opportunity to reprise a career-making role that is very important to him, and we wanted to make it work. We look forward to his return to "Law & Order" for season 16," Wolf said.

"I am very grateful to everyone at Wolf Films and NBC Universal Television, especially Dick Wolf and Jeff Zucker, for allowing me this once in a lifetime opportunity," Martin said. "I'm going to miss Dennis (Farina), Epatha (Merkerson) and the rest of the cast and crew, and I can't wait to return next year."

Imperioli added, "Dick and his team tell great New York stories and I am excited to be a part of it....and I'm glad to be on the right side of the law."

Martin is currently in his sixth season as Detective Ed Green on "Law & Order" and was an original cast member of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Rent," creating the role of Tom Collins, which he is slated to play in the film version. He also appeared in recurring roles on the Fox series "Ally McBeal" and "413 Hope Street."

Imperioli is best known to television audiences as the hot-headed Christopher Moltisanti on the Emmy Award winning HBO series "The Sopranos." He won the Emmy last September for his high profile role and has also appeared in numerous films and television series. He stars in the upcoming ABC telefilm "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and he also appeared in a guest-starring role on "Law & Order" in 1996 and Wolf's Fox series "New York Undercover" in 1997.

"Law & Order" is a Wolf Films production in association with NBC Universal Television Studio and airs on Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on NBC. Dick Wolf is creator and executive producer; Matthew Penn, Eric Overmyer, Roz Weinman and Peter Jankowski are executive producers.

The deal was brokered by Bob McGowan of McGowan Management and Endeavor Talent Agency. Imperioli is repped by UTA and Tina Thor of TMT Entertainment.





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· ALLY MCBEAL (FOX)
· FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, THE (ABC)
· LAW & ORDER (NBC)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)











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