"Law & Order" Loses Another Lawyer? by Joal Ryan Jun 23, 2004, 1:35 PM PT Looks like the mother ship is coming in for another overhaul. The mother ship is the ever-morphing Law & Order, which stands to lose costar Elisabeth Röhm at midseason next year, NBC announced Wednesday. Röhm, 31, has played Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn, Sam Waterston's partner in crime-fighting, since 2001. The network said the actress will return for the launch of Law & Order's 15th season in the fall but warned she has been granted permission to bolt after 13 episodes. "Lis has done a terrific job...and she has been a consummate professional," series creator and executive producer Dick Wolf said in a statement. "[But] we knew she had other career interests and opportunities." Currently, Röhm is filming Miss Congeniality 2, starring Sandra Bullock. Also, NBC said she had "several" TV projects in the works. The actress has been a prime-time fixture since taking on a recurring role as a cop on Angel from 1999-2001. Röhm called her contemplated exit "difficult," but, what the heck, she sounded ready to go through with it anyway. "Sam Waterston has been a great teacher and friend who has taught me about taking risks, and it is time to put that knowledge into action," Röhm said in a statement. There was no announcement on which aspiring starlet would partner up with Waterston in Röhm's absence. Already, Law & Order, TV's second-longest-running drama series behind Gunsmoke, is braced to break in a new face in its police division. Get Shorty gangster Dennis Farina previously was announced as Jesse L. Martin's new detective partner, replacing Jerry Orbach who departed Law & Order at the end of the just-completed season. Orbach's bound for the new Law & Order brand, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, set to debut in the fall. Whew... Law & Order is a large vessel that has provided a hospitable home to a number of smaller vessels, or in TV parlance, spinoffs. Trial by Jury will be the third Law & Order franchisee, after Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. If the new series follows the mother ship's lead, its cast will change more often than, well, just about everything. Röhm is Waterston's fourth counterpart since joining the series in 1994. He previously worked with Jill Hennessy (who pre-dated his arrival by a year and stayed until 1996), Carey Lowell (1996-98) and Angie Harmon (1998-2001). The only assistant D.A. Waterston missed was Richard Brooks, who served from 1990-93 under original boss Michael Moriarty. Prior to his departure, Orbach was the cast stalwart, pounding the beat as Detective Lennie Briscoe for 12 years. But even he wasn't an original castmember. He didn't sign on until 1992. At least Martin, now moving up to third on the Law & Order seniority chart after S. Epatha Merkerson and Waterston, may stick around a while longer. The 35-year-old is close to inking a multiyear deal with the series, the Hollywood Reporter said this week. In May, NBC renewed the mother ship, as well as Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, through the 2005-06 season.