The return of Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" to NBC's schedule this fall will be marked by a number of changes.
Wolf has been pressured by the network to cut costs, and sources tell me he's figured out ways to do it.
As I reported recently, Wolf will persuade veteran actor Sam Waterston to let his Jack McCoy character finally become district attorney. Waterston, 65, is now playing the oldest living assistant D.A. in recorded history, quipped a Wolf insider.
"With Fred Thompson leaving to run for president, Sam will have to move up," my source said. "It's less screen time, but it should have happened a while ago. Dick will cast a new ADA who'll be younger and cheaper."
Wolf is also said to be getting rid of the two cops on "Law & Order." Definitely out is Milena Govich, who has been on for two seasons. And Wolf may also oust Jesse L. Martin, who has logged 180 episodes since he arrived in 1999.
Meanwhile, the move of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" to USA Networks may be what saves Chris Noth's job. There was talk about Noth leaving and Vincent D'Onofrio staying because Noth was too expensive. But a source at "CI" tells me that Noth's paycheck is about the same as D'Onofrio's and that he's not going anywhere.
"Vincent can't do all 22 shows," my source said. "The split schedule is what works."
People are still talking about the Janet Jackson performance in the Bahamas over the weekend. Janet did five or six songs and rocked the house as only Janet can. There was no sign of her brothers, but all of the Jackson women were in attendance including mom Katherine, sisters La Toya and Reebe.
Janet's show was capped off by a firework show provided by the Grucci family that observers say was the single best show they've ever seen of this kind — and that's saying a lot. The whole weekend was to launch the new Cove at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino in Nassau.
By the way, the big star of Stevie Wonder's birthday party was said to be BeBe Winans, a Wonder favorite. Stevie and Natalie Cole — who some think is the best female R&B singer of her generation — wowed the crowd on Saturday night after sets by Aerosmith and the Village People.
The Tony Awards committee echoed the sentiments of the Outer Critics Circle Tuesday. They failed to give "Legally Blonde" a nomination for best musical. This is exactly right. The show is one of the worst to come along in ages.
I was happy to see that star Laura Bell Bundy did get a nomination, however, for best actress in a musical. She won't win, but just putting her in the same category as superstars Donna Murphy and Audra MacDonald means Bundy is on her way.
I can't wait to see Bundy in a great Broadway musical, but those are hard to find. Murphy and MacDonald's shows are nothing to write home about.