Viewers weren’t the only ones who didn’t get to say goodbye to “Law & Order” properly. Writer-producer Rene Balcer didn’t know that he was directing the final episode until afterward.
“It was kind of bittersweet,” he says on the phone, already at work on the West Coast spinoff. “We all became pretty close over the last 20 years. It was like taking your firstborn out back and putting a bullet in his head.”
On “Law & Order: Los Angeles,” premiering tonight, the gritty streets of New York have given way to the surreal sunshine of La-La Land, and a new cast destined for rerun immortality. Peter Coyote is a natural as a politically savvy district attorney, and decades of supporting roles have earned Rachel Ticotin her cred as a police lieutenant. Skeet Ulrich (“Jericho”) will satisfy fans as a kinder, more compact Chris Noth. And Terrence Howard is almost unbearably sexy as a prosecutor with a conscience. “Iron Man’s” loss is our weekly gain.