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Mugging for the camera

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

If you blinked, you might have missed it, but Rene Balcer, executive producer of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, was expected to make a “mug shot” debut on the NBC drama Sunday night. The episode, appropriately titled Blink, revolved around a group of frat boys who engineer a scam to defraud a horse race. The image of the Montreal-born writer-producer appears as the mug shot for a member of an Israeli gang of miscreants involved in the story line.
Mr. Balcer told TelevisionWeek that he just happened to be around the set when the mugs for the episode were being taken. “I looked enough like a murderer,” he said. “Maybe I killed off enough people on the show.”
The appearance will not be Mr. Balcer’s first cameo in the Law & Order franchise. He once portrayed a golfer at a driving range on the flagship Law & Order series. Mr. Balcer also is far from the first behind-the-scenes player to stand in for a suspected criminal among the dozens of mug shots used in the show. For legal reasons, the show can’t use real mug shots. So members of the crew, friends and family serve as stand-ins.
“Just about every person behind the scenes has been included in mug shots in this show or on the mother ship,” Mr. Balcer said. However, he added: “I don’t think Dick [Law & Order series creator-exec producer Dick Wolf] has ever appeared in a mug shot. I think he’d be superstitious.”