NBC eyes Jennifer Love Hewitt to step in when Mariska Hargitay leaves SVU team

This time of year, as networks announce their plans for next season, we always hear a few eyebrow-raising schedule changes and casting rumors. But one that came over the weekend still makes my head ache from confusion because it has to do with the midseason departure of this star:

And the possible entrance of this one:

If you’re wondering how these women could possibly play similar parts, you’re not alone. But NBC, who has been in contract negotiations with Law & Order: SVU stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, has reached a deal with half of the Benson-Stabler team.

Somewhere around mid-season, Detective Olivia Benson (Hargitay) will be promoted to supervisor, moving her out of the lead role as a sex crime solver. A new female detective will take her place on the team. The front-runner for the job is, according to those always reliable unnamed sources, is Jennifer Love Hewitt Ironically, Hewitt played a rape victim on SVU last season.

Before you lose your mind completely, you should know that Hargitay asked for a reduced schedule next season so she could spend more time with her family, which includes newly adopted daughter Amaya Josephine.

Aww.

NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, said that Meloni’s deal is “nearly done” and that the show was looking for a strong female character to add to the cast. Hewitt is “one of the people we’re looking at,” he said.

Meanwhile, The Clicker, a pop culture site for NBC, reports that Hewitt indeed got an offer from the show — but not for the role described in rumors. I wonder if the site has talked to Greenblatt.

Personally, I like JLH. She’s obviously high on the hotness scale and I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I still watch Ghost Whisperer reruns. Hewitt is a pro at playing worried and upset — and is a natural for TV movies and horror films. But can she play a tough detective in the Special Victims Unit? I just don’t see it. Unless, of course, she talks to the dead victims to help solve crimes.

We’ll let you know more as any deals are announced, but meanwhile, give us your thoughts on this possible casting. What do you think of Jennifer Love Hewitt as a new partner for Stabler? If not JLH, who would make a good match for the SVU team?

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