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NBC's 'Jury' Will Carry on Without Orbach

LOS ANGELES -- NBC will proceed with plans to introduce the new series "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" despite the death of one of its stars, Jerry Orbach.

The 69-year-old veteran of stage, TV and film died Tuesday at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center where he was being treated for prostate cancer.

A spokeswoman for the show confirmed that episodes already taped with Orbach will air in the upcoming midseason and issued a statement Wednesday.

"The producers are deeply saddened," the statement said. "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."

Six episodes of "Jury" have been taped, according to the spokeswoman, with Orbach having appeared in as many as half of them. His character, Detective Lennie Briscoe, will be replaced by a new character, but NBC declined comment on what actor might be tapped for the role or how he will be written off the show.

Orbach agreed earlier this year to transfer from the original "Law & Order," where he spent 12 seasons, to "Jury" in a reduced role in order to accommodate the actor. After more than a decade of carrying a heavy workload on "Order," "Jury" required only two days a week.

Briscoe's departure was explained on "Order" as a retirement from active duty on the police force; the character was written to join "Jury" as an investigator for the district attorney's office. Dennis Farina replaced Orbach on "Order" this season.

NBC has not announced a premiere date for "Jury," though a spokeswoman indicated the new series could debut as early as March.

Cast alongside Orbach in "Jury" are Bebe Neuwirth, Amy Carlson and Kirk Acevedo. Joining Orbach in the switch from the original "Order" to the new character was Fred Thompson, who is reprising his role as Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch.

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