|"Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli will step in for Jesse L. Martin on several episodes of "Law & Order" later this season, when Martin takes a break to film the movie "Rent."|
Imperioli, who won an Emmy this year for playing mob soldier Christopher Moltisanti on the HBO series, will play the nephew of Detective Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina), who's partnered with his uncle while Martin's Detective Ed Green is away (NBC isn't revealing the reason for the character's departure).
Like scores of other New York-based actors, Imperioli has guest-starred on "Law & Order," playing a suspect in a murder case in a 1996 episode. He also appeared in FOX's "New York Undercover," which was created by "L&O" head man Dick Wolf.
"Dick and his team tell great New York stories and I am excited to be a part of it," Imperioli says. "And I'm glad to be on the right side of the law."
Martin, who originated the role of Tom Collins in the Broadway musical "Rent," will play the character again in the film version. He says he's grateful to Wolf and NBC for the time off to pursue a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." He's set to return to "Law & Order" for the 2005-06 season.
"For the past six years, Jesse has been an 'actor's actor' - an incredible performer, total professional and he is liked by everyone," Wolf says. "He had an opportunity to reprise a career-making role that is very important to him, and we wanted to make it work."
"The Sopranos" is scheduled to return to HBO in 2006 for its final season. Imperioli will next be seen in the ABC movie "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," airing Sunday (Dec. 5).