On Wednesday September 23, the longest-running drama on television will premiere its 17 season on NBC. The Shadow League was recently invited down to Law & Order : SVU’s New York stage to discuss the show’s legacy, characters and changes with the cast and writers in a round table discussion that included other members of the press corps. On hand were stars Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino and Raul Esparza, as well as executive producers/writers Warren Leight and Julie Martin. Check out the quotes, as well as some behind the scenes footage and exclusive interviews with Ice-T and Kelli Giddish. Primary among many of our mind’s was how they worked around his co-stars pregnancy as far as writing was concerned.

“What we did last season was finish the season, then we did three episodes,” said Ice. “So, we come back on the fourth episode. So, that way we have something in the can over the hiatus.”

There was once a time when Ice-T was considered something of a novelty actor, but that was a very long time ago. Way back before he put in almost 2 decades of work on SVU.

“To tell you the truth, it doesn’t seem that long,” he told me. “It doesn’t seem long at all. If you told me five years, then yeah. Because it just doesn’t seem that long. This is such an easy job to come to, an easy work environment, everybody’s so cool, it’s such a well-oiled machine, there’s no stress on you. I don’t think I’ve ever gone home stressed over this job. I just show up, they treat you with respect, it’s fun.”

“What’s it done for me? It allowed me to slow down a little bit. I can make better music. By having this as my day job, I’m allowed to do other things. I’ve made movies, it’s been a great ride for me. I don’t stop though. I go on tours overseas, I do commercials, and this is a platform that allows me to do other things. But, who would ever thought? I came on this show to do four episodes.”

Mariska is better known as Olivia Benson on the show and is its longest tenured cast member. Here she talks about what the ride has been like thus far.

“The other thing about it that’s great is they’ve turned the show into more of a serial show. Now, it’s sequential. That is so much better. I mean, I don’t want to quality it. But it’s really fun to act knowing really where you came from. Not the moment before, but the year before. It’s such a fun thing to actually build this unique foundation because, before these guys arrived, each show stood on its own. It’s be like ‘Oh great, I speak farsi this week. Great! I had no idea! Then, I would never speak farsi again. Now these things are building blocks. Things mean so much more. I mean, obviously, we’ve been doing this for so long and relationships are so deeply earned. The fact that you have deep relationships with each person is a gift.”