Thompson Ends 'L&O' Term
Potential presidential candidate bows out of show
Thompson informed "Law & Order" creator/executive producer Dick Wolf on Wednesday that he wanted out of the show, the showbiz trade papers say. He's played Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch on the show for the last five seasons.
Thompson, who represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1994-2003, is also taking the first steps toward setting up a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He's expected to begin hiring staff and raising money in the next few days, news reports say.
"I've spoken to Fred today, and although he told me he has not made a firm decision about his political future, he felt that given the creative and scheduling constraints of the upcoming season, he asked to be released from his responsibilities to the show," Wolf says in a statement.
Thompson's departure from "Law & Order" is not unexpected. At NBC's upfront presentation earlier this month, then-network head Kevin Reilly said that "it's highly likely that Fred will not be back on the show."
The 64-year-old Thompson will be entering an already crowded field for the Republican nomination -- 10 other candidates have already entered the race.
Prior to his Senate tenure, Thompson appeared in such films as "No Way Out," "In the Line of Fire" and "Cape Fear," often playing government officials or law-enforcement types. He played President Ulysses S. Grant in the HBO movie "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," which debuted on Sunday. He was the third D.A. on "Law & Order," following Steven Hill and Dianne Wiest.