"The producers are deeply saddened," read the statement. "While Jerry is irreplaceable, 'Law & Order: Trial by Jury' is an ensemble and will continue in production. A new member will join the company. Announcements will be forthcoming." Tony Award winner and fellow stage stalwart Bebe Neuwirth is featured in the cast alongside Amy Carlson ("Third Watch") and Kirk Acevedo ("Band of Brothers"). Orbach would have reprised his role from the original drama — a role he played for 12 seasons — as Detective Lennie Briscoe with Fred Thompson, reprising his "Law & Order" role as Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch. Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown") is also slated to appear.
The new NBC drama series is expected to debut in March 2005. Orbach had appeared in at least half of the six episodes already shot, which will air according to NBC. His role on "Trial by Jury" was catered so the veteran actor only worked a two day weekly schedule.
To visit the Playbill On-Line obituary for Orbach, click here.