'Law & Order: LA': Dick Wolf says blame him for Skeet Ulrich's exit

skeet-ulrich-lola-exit.jpgMonday's episode of "Law & Order: Los Angeles" will be its first in several months, and the first to air after the show underwent some pretty serious retooling. It will also be, as a result of that retooling, the last one for Skeet Ulrich.

"L&O" creator Dick Wolf says any blame for Ulrich's departure should fall at his feet. "It was a very, very painful call, and it was not something in the abstract that Skeet deserved," Wolf said Wednesday (April 6) in a chat with reporters. "I'm sure this is not what he wants to hear, [but] I would unhesitatingly use him again as an actor in something that I think called on his strengths better than this [show] did.

"I remain a fan. ... He's one of the nicest people I've ever worked with, and it's not something I enjoy or hope to have to do ever again. But it's my fault; it's not his fault. I don't know what else I can say."

With Ulrich's departure -- from all appearances, his character, Detective Rex Winters, is going to die in the line of duty -- Alfred Molina will join Corey Stoll on the show's detective team; we'll learn in Monday's back-to-back episodes that Molina's character, Ricardo Morales, was a cop before joining the DA's office. Wolf says he thinks the "rhythm of the show" is better with Molina and Terrence Howard, who previously split time as "LOLA's" lead prosecutors, in every episode, and he hopes the audience will too.

Wolf also says that Ulrich's departure stems in part from the fact that "Law & Order: LA" had to work out its kinks on screen rather than through the pilot process. The new show came together in a bit of a hurry after the original "Law & Order" was canceled at the end of the 2009-10 season following intense negotiations about and weeks of media speculation about its fate.

"I think I was one of the more surprised people on the planet when the mothership 'Law & Order' didn't come back. It was sort of in everyone's plans that it was going to continue," he says. "There had been a different schedule laid out with 'Los Angeles' coming on after a final group of episodes from the mothership. When that didn't happen, we were in a breakneck race to get on the fall schedule in time. ... This was basically a transition at 60 miles per hour. Some things get to go through their growing pains on screen, which is never the first choice of the people making these shows."

The revamped "Law & Order: LA" debuts on NBC at 9 p.m. ET Monday (April 11) with back-to-back episodes and will air at 10 Mondays in the weeks to follow.
Photo/Video credit: NBC
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