|Dennis Farina's going off duty for good. |
The Law & Order regular has elected not to return to his role as New York police detective Joe Fontana on NBC's perennial cops and lawyers series after two seasons, the network confirmed on Wednesday.
His publicist cited the actor's desire to pursue other offers and projects that he and his production company are developing as the reason for his departure .
"Dennis is the consummate professional and I respect his decision to pursue other opportunities and he will be sorely missed. I genuinely hope we work together again, " said show creator and executive producer Dick Wolf in a statement.
Farina took over for Jerry Orbach, who walked the L & O beat for 14 years as Detective Lennie Briscoe, including a short-lived stint headlining spinoff in Law & Order: Trial By Jury, until his death in 2004.
The veteran thespian has made a career out of playing no-nonsense tough guys.
After getting his first big tube break playing a hard-nosed P.I. on the Peacock's 1980s series, Crime Story, he transitioned to the big screen where he assayed a motley assortment of movie mobsters and other wiseacres.
Farina's film credits include Manhunter, Midnight Run, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Reindeer Games and Snatch. On the TV side, he's guest starred on Miami Vice and appeared in the 1992 telefilm, Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel, Tales From the Crypt and Buddy Faro.
As it just so happens, Farina's exit comes on the heels of NBC's decision to shift the original Law & Order mothership, now entering its 17th season, from its longtime Wednesday night home to Fridays starting in the fall.
Per the Hollywood Reporter, Wolf tapped actress Milena Govich, who played an assistant district attorney on the producer's recently-axed drama Conviction and guest starred on Law & Order in 2005, to succeed Farina and partner with Jesse L. Martin's character, Detective Ed Green.
An NBC rep was mum on the report.
But any way you cut it, a cast shakeup isn't entirely unexpected given the fact that Assistant D.A. Alexandra Borgia (Anna Parisse) was killed in the season finale while probing a murder.
As for Farina, he's next set to costar with Ben Kingsley, Luke Wilson, Bill Pullman and Tea Leoni in the indie ensemble film, You Kill Me and also has a part in Edward Burns' latest, Purple Violets, featuring Selma Blair, David Arquette, and Debra Messing.