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'Law & Order: SVU' will return

Mariska Hargitay attends the premiere of

Mariska Hargitay attends the premiere of "Stand Up Guys" hosted by The Cinema Society with Chrysler and Bally at MoMA on Dec. 9, 2012 in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images / Fernando Leon

Rest easy, 'SVU' fans: Your show is coming back.  

"Law & Order: SVU" -- improbably a bubble series as it ends the 15th season -- will in fact get a 16th. NBC Wednesday confirmed the pickup to trades. A surprise this is not, given the durability of the franchise and its ongoing popularity. But as series grow older, their audience tends to age with them, while the fixed expenses in producing a hit like this tend not to be fixed at all, but rise. (Mariska Hargitay is one of TV's top stars, and is paid accordingly.) The aging audience therefore makes them even more expensive, artificially speaking, given the industry fixation on youth-at-all-costs.

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