Mariska Hargitay will return as lead detective, Olivia Benson for season 13 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but with strings attached. Hargitay has signed a new deal with NBC, however at her request, she will work fewer hours for the same pay as she received last season and she only signed on for 13 episodes, not 26.
With this condition to Hargitay’s new deal, NBC is looking at forner Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer Love Hewitt to replace Hargitay as a new lead detective for the last 13 episodes in the upcoming season.
According to reports from TVline.com, Olivia Benson will be removed from the special victims unit when she is promoted to a supervisory position. A new detective (quite possibly played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) will take Benson’s place on the SVU team.
It is still not yet known if Hargitay’s on screen partner, Christopher Meloni (Detective Elliot Stabler), will sign up for another season. Meloni may be looking for a raise in salary, and negotiations are moving slowly along. It is quite possible he will not be able to ink a new deal before NBC upfronts are due.