"Right before Paula started her first episode — which she's shooting right now — she was offered a test for Mission: Impossible: 4," says Baer. "We had a contract, but I don't want to stand in someone's career path if they're going to be in a huge feature film with Tom Cruise. So when she got that role, we recast ours."
Sagemiller was on his radar since he had "compiled a huge disc of performances" from actresses he was considering for the ADA role before Patton won it. "So we went back to someone we had liked already and that was Melissa Sagemiller," the producer says. Luckily for him, the actress (Raising the Bar, Sleeper Cell) was available since her pilot, the Rockford Files remake, had crashed and burned.
Sagemiller makes her first appearance on October 20 and plays Gillian Hardwicke, "a Brooklyn ADA who wanted to come to SVU because she greatly admires Benson and Stabler" and has "got an amazing track record in solving cases," Baer says. As for Patton's Mikka Von, expect her to go out in a big way.