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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit shares anger over using unvaccinated actors

Law & Order SVU
Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Carisi (Peter Scanavino) face a tough court case on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit may be facing an issue with actors refusing to comply with health mandates.

Showrunner Warren Leight took to Twitter to voice his complaints about the series having to do some recasting due to actors being unvaccinated against COVID-19.

His words echo a growing concern over the battle on vaccinations that might be affecting some television shows.

Leight on actors being unvaccinated

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, like all TV shows, suspended production in March of 2020 when the initial coronavirus pandemic began. It finally resumed filming in September of 2020 under strict guidelines of safety for the cast. 

The show has continued to film and, as usual, has used the New York theater community for guest star roles. However, taking to Twitter, showrunner Warren Leight revealed the series had endured issues of actors who were cast without being vaccinated. 

“To my sadness, we are still offering parts to actors only to learn they STILL aren’t vaccinated (and therefore we won’t/can’t hire them). Our community has to look out for each other, especially when working unmasked in close quarters. The stream of misinformation is toxic.”

He added, “The vast majority here are also vaccinated, but I’ve been surprised that even some older members of our community have chosen to play Russian Roulette with Covid.”

Leight did not single any actors out by name, yet his words make it clear that some recastings of guest roles have occurred because of an actor’s vaccination status. 

There have been issues of actors refusing to comply with COVID-19 vaccination rules. For example, General Hospital actors Steve Burton and Ingo Rademacher were let go from the soap opera for their refusal to get vaccinated. 

The conflict over COVID-19 vaccinations has continued to rage, with celebrities such as Eric Clapton enduring a backlash over refusals to go along with mask or vaccination mandates. While many actors have complied with these rules, there have been notable exceptions.

It’s expected the current COVID-19 filming protocols will continue for the rest of 2022. While the current deal ends on February 13, most believe the lingering effects of variants will ensure the protocols remain in place.

Yet Leight brings to light how the conflict over vaccinations continues to affect the filming of shows and the casting process for a series as successful as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The vaccination debate on TV

It’s no secret that vaccinations for the coronavirus pandemic are a hot-topic issue, especially in the United States. 

While many states (such as New York) have strict vaccination laws, others are more relaxed. There are also differences in mandates for masks, distancing, or presenting vaccination cards for employment. Ongoing legal battles only complicate the issue. 

In New York City, where Law & Order: Special Victims Unit films, there is a mask and vaccine mandate for almost all business, although there is a possibility that may be lifted by the end of February. 

Last July, the Hollywood actor and producer guilds modified filming protocols into how “Zone A” (for the main filming cast) would always need to have actors vaccinated. 

These rules have mostly been followed, but there have been issues. That was especially true when the Omicron variant began to spread in December of 2021. 

Several series, such as Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, NCIS, and Chicago Fire, had to suspend filming when actors in “Zone A” suffered breakthrough cases. So far, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has largely managed to avoid these issues. 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 returns with new episodes on Thursday, February 24 at 9/8c on NBC.

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  1. Vaccinated or not, you can STILL get the virus. The shot, as it were, only helps in the severity of the symptoms should you catch it. No matter if you’re vaxxed or not, you, again, can still get the virus and therefore transmit it. Those who don’t get the vaccine should not be criminalized.

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