Mariska Hargitay, Josh Pais Mariska Hargitay, Josh Pais

Talk about a rerun. Almost every spring, the fate of NBC's Law & Order: SVU remains unsettled until the last possible moment. TV Guide Magazine talked to showrunner Warren Leight about the prospects for Season 16.

TV Guide Magazine: You, along with some of the cast and crew, have been tweeting under the hashtag "Renew SVU." So everyone wants to return?
Warren Leight: It's fair to say the cast and crew want the show to come back and the show deserves to come back.

TV Guide Magazine: It's done pretty well this season, particularly in the demos, thought it's not what it once was.
Leight: It's done well in our impossible time slot [Wednesday, 9/8c]. Idol, Criminal Minds and Modern Family are down and we're up 5 percent from last year. Chicago Fire was the only other NBC drama that's up for the year and it's positioned after The Voice. We also served as a good launching pad for Fire and Chicago P.D. From our point of view, the show, to paraphrase Dick [Wolf], the show's as good as ever. Mariska [Hargitay] is quite happy.

TV Guide Magazine: Mariska has indicated that she would be happy to return, but she hasn't signed a new contract, has she?
Warren Leight: It would be helpful to get the show picked up so all those other deals can be made. We're just in that moment of purgatory — for a crime we haven't committed.

TV Guide Magazine:  A Deadline article put the blame on Dick Wolf, saying he won't take a pay cut to keep the expensive show alive.
Warren Leight: That Deadline thing was crap. That was somebody with an agenda leaking it. If it's about budget, the last time our budget was this low was Season 8, back in 2006-2007.

TV Guide Magazine: You cut some longtime players, like Dann Florek and Richard Belzer. That saved some bucks.
Warren Leight: And we run the show much more efficiently than it used to be run in the old days. What this is, is a game of brinksmanship. The show generates plenty of money. This is one of those times we just have to wait until the last moment to see who blinks. All of the big guns need to sit down and talk. I have lots of people every day coming up to me saying, 'Have you heard anything? Do I have a job? Should I take the other job? I don't want to leave this show, but Blue Bloods is calling.'

TV Guide Magazine: I hear some pilots have reached out to you.
Warren Leight: I'm employable; Mariska's employable. We can all get work, but if you have a year like this, you would like to think you'd get another one. Our hope is a hero will emerge to find common ground.

TV Guide Magazine: Are you writing a season finale that can serve as a series finale, just in case?
Warren Leight: We're still writing the finale. We always cut things pretty close by the end of the season, but I would say, all the other stuff is distracting. There won't be a cliffhanger like last year's when Olivia had a gun at her head. But there will be some unresolved questions that will jump you into the next season. I don't want to bet against the show. 

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