It looks like Rohm, a four-year cast member of Law & Order, may not be in danger of having her residuals dry up completely if one of her former co-stars, Fred Thompson, runs for president.
Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee who’s likely to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, was on L&O for three of Rohm’s four seasons. There has been speculation that if he does run for president, NBC, TNT — which has rerun rights to the show — and stations that air it in syndication will have to pull all of Thompson’s episodes so as not to run afoul of equal-time rules, in which other candidates could demand free airtime to compensate for the exposure Thompson received.
For now, though, Rohm and the other actors who appeared with Thompson, not to mention Law & Order honcho Dick Wolf and all the others involved with the show, don’t have to worry. Asked about the situation at press tour Tuesday — where he appeared with new L&O family members Jeremy Sisto (the mothership), Adam Beach (SVU) and Alicia Witt (who’s filling in for a pregnant Julianne Nicholson on Criminal Intent) — Wolf produced not one, but three statements on the matter.
Here’s the deal for NBC: "The equal time requirement applies when the person has legally qualified as an official candidate in a relevant state — for example, having his or her name formally approved to be on a state’s primary ballot — not merely when he/she declares his or her intent to run," which is where things stand now (Thompson hasn’t even formally declared yet). "If Fred Thompson formally announces his intention to run for president, NBC will not schedule any further repeats of Law & Order featuring Mr. Thompson beyond those already scheduled, which conclude on Saturday, Sept. 1."
The situation on cable is even looser: "The equal time requirement does not apply to programming on national cable networks, including cable runs of the Law & Order programs." TNT could make its own decision to pull reruns featuring Thompson if he becomes an official candidate.
As for syndicated episodes, Wolf says, "We have been anticipating Mr. Thompson’s decision and have taken appropriate steps consistent with FCC regulations."