Whatever Happened to ‘Prince Street’ Starring ‘SVU’ Lead Mariska Hargitay?

Today, Mariska Hargitay is best known for starring as Olivia Benson — the Commanding Officer of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit — in Law & Order: SVU. She has been leading the series since 1999, and viewers return to the show weekly to watch her character take on the next round of baddies. Yet, before SVU came around, Mariska Hargitay was set to star in another crime-oriented drama — one that was originally slated to take Law & Order’s time slot for a brief period.  

Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: SVU
Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

What was ‘Prince Street,’ and who was Hargitay in the show? 

Prince Street first aired on Thursday, March 6 in 1997 at 10:00 pm EST (at the time, ER held this slot). While the show aired on a Thursday, it was set to take the place of Law & Order (Wednesday nights at 10:00 pm EST) for a few weeks in March and April. Unfortunately, the show never really got off the ground. 

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The premise of the show was quite true-to-life, as it was based on the exploits of a real police unit that operated in New York City, beginning in the early 1970s. The unit operated secretly for 20 years, working behind a print shop on Prince Street. They didn’t carry badges and deeply enmeshed themselves undercover, aiming to break some of the roughest criminal organizations in the city. 

Hargitay was cast as Detective Nina Echeverria. Though Hargitay was comfortable in the crime drama, having previously appeared in Law & Order, she didn’t get a chance to fully flex her crime-busting acting muscles until SVU. 

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Why ‘Prince Street’ was abruptly canceled 

Though several episodes were filmed, only two Prince Street episodes actually aired. After the ratings for the second episode of the crime drama came in, the show was quickly canceled. The viewership numbers were exceedingly low, especially for a show of its kind — and with a timeslot predestined for success. 

Law & Order returned to its regular Wednesday night slot three weeks later, and Prince Street was gone for good. The show filmed six episodes in total and had a handful of familiar faces, yet they weren’t enough to boost viewership.

The show also starred Joe Morton (Scandal, Eureka, Speed), Vincent Spano (The Black Stallion Returns,  Baby It’s You, Rumble Fish), Lawrence Monoson (The Last American Virgin), and Dana Eskelson (Cold Creek Manor, See You Next Tuesday). 

Though the series was based on a real team — with stars capable of dramatizing the story while paying homage to the truth — it failed to make it off the ground. Yet, now that Hargitay is a bigger star, she could likely lead a show with a similar presence.