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A Paley Center for Media Special

A Paley Center for Media Special

  • Premiered: 
    December 13, 1994
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Fox
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Special, Annual
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Entertainment
  • Tags: television

Buy This Show on DVD or Watch Online

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Plot Synopsis

Since 1994, The Paley Center for Media, formerly know as the Museum of Television & Radio, has presented a series of television specials that honor TV's seminal programs and performers by focusing on many memorable television moments and events in sitcoms, dramas, and reality television. Each special, typically 90 to 120 minutes in duration, has a different theme, including: "Science Fiction: A Journey Into the Unknown" (Dec 13, 1994 on Fox); "Classic Stand-Up Comedy on Television" (Sep 14, 1996 on NBC); "Behind the Laughs: The Untold Stories of Television's Favorite Comedies" (May 27, 1998 on Fox); "America's Teenagers: Growing Up on Television" (Jul 31, 1998 on ABC); "Influences: From Yesterday to Today" (Aug 27, 1999 on CBS); "The '70s: The Decade That Changed Television" (Sep 17, 2000 on ABC); "Breaking the News" (Aug 24, 2001 on CBS); "Great Women of Television Comedy" (Apr 15, 2003 on NBC); "The Funniest Families of Television Comedy" (Jul 19, 2004 on ABC); "Unforgettable Moments in Television Entertainment" (Aug 10, 2005 on NBC); "A Day in the Life of Television" (Sep 2, 2006 on CBS); "TV's Funniest Moments" (Jun 1, 2007 on Fox); "TV's All-Time Funniest" (May 9, 2008 on ABC); "TV's 50 Funniest Phrases" (May 26, 2009 on NBC); "TV's Greatest Surprises" (Jun 16, 2010 on CBS); "TV's Funniest Holiday Moments" (Nov 26, 2010 on Fox); "TV's Most Dynamic Duos" (Sep 2, 2012 on ABC); "TV's Funniest of the Funniest" (Sep 1, 2013 on NBC); "Now That's Funny! On Set With TV's Hottest Comedies" (Dec 26, 2014 on CBS); "TV's Funniest Animated Stars" (Dec 7, 2015); The Paley Center Salutes the Best of Will & Grace (Sep 19, 2017 on NBC); The Paley Center Salutes This Is Us (Sep 18, 2018 on NBC); The Paley Center Salutes The Good Place (Sep 19, 2019 on NBC); The Paley Center Salutes Law & Order: SVU (Jan 2, 2020 on NBC); The Paley Center Salutes Parks and Recreation (Apr 30, 2020 on NBC).
On Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 10pm ET/PT, NBC premiered "The Paley Center Presents Law & Order: Before They Were Stars." For an up-and-coming actor, an appearance on a LAW & ORDER episode is a rite of passage. Since 1990, more than a few of the attorneys, victims, perpetrators, witnesses, kids, suspects and police of the week have gone on to become some of the biggest television and movie stars in the world.

"LAW & ORDER is one of television's most legendary brands and has served as a springboard for so many talented actors," said Maureen J. Reidy, the Paley Center's President & CEO. "We're honored to partner with our friends from NBC to present this entertaining look at where some of today's biggest stars got their first big break."

The telecast will feature interviews with actors whose roles on LAW & ORDER played an instrumental part in shaping their careers, including Ron Cephas Jones, Chris Sullivan and Susan Kelechi Watson (THIS IS US), Leslie Odom Jr. (HAMILTON), Michael Imperioli and Aida Turturro (THE SOPRANOS), Ariel Winter (MODERN FAMILY), Abigail Breslin (ZOMBIELAND) and S. Epatha Merkerson (CHICAGO MED).

In addition to the above, several prominent actors who have a LAW & ORDER credit or two on their resume will be part of the special, including eight-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper.

For many actors, LAW & ORDER was a way to earn their SAG card. Some played multiple guest roles on the series before becoming famous and will explain what the experience on set meant to them at the time.

Members of the LAW & ORDER ensembles will recount the experiences of working with the great actors who were not yet household names. Some LAW & ORDER cast members discuss appearing on LAW & ORDER as other characters before landing a spot in the main cast. For example, Peter Scanavino appeared as double assailant Johnny Dubchek before he took the role of Sonny Carisi on SVU. Kelli Giddish played a victim before she joined the force as Det. Amanda Rollins.

With over 1,200 episodes from the LAW & ORDER library to date and tens of thousands of roles for actors, it's no surprise that many of them have gone on to incredible careers. This insightful look back is a celebration of 30 years of a legendary franchise and the stars who have helped pave the way.


Other Titles

  • Also known as: Presented by The Paley Center for Media on TV
  • Previously known as: A Museum of Television and Radio Special

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Scott Goldstein Productions (1994)
  • Produced by Zaloom Mayfield Productions (1996)
  • Produced by Nash Entertainment (1998 May)
  • Produced by ZMC Productions (1998 July)
  • Produced by Rocket Science Laboratories (1999 - 2000)
  • Produced by Planet Grande Pictures (2001 - 2006; 2010 May)
  • Produced by Brad Lachman Productions (2007 - 2009; 2010 Nov; 2013)
  • Produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions (2012)
  • In association with Paley Center for Media (1994 - 2007 as Museum of Television & Radio; 2008 - Present)