When "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" star Christopher Meloni departed the show over rumored contract disputes, and fellow lead Mariska Hargitay announced she was taking a reduced role, many fans feared it would be the end for the long-running cop drama.

However, the heads over at NBC have found two new stars, announced today. An no, Jennifer Love Hewitt is not one of them. Fortunately, both actors have experience playing police officers. The new female role will go to Kelli Giddish, who played the lead in the short-lived NBC series "Chase." Danny Pino will play the new male role. Pino starred for seven seasons on "Cold Case."

“Kelli and Danny are two great actors who will join a proven cast headed by Mariska Hargitay as this exceptional series heads into a very promising 13th season,” NBC Entertainment Chief Bob Greenblatt said.

Added franchise executive producer/creator Dick Wolf: “I’m very pleased that we have two amazing actors joining the cast. I know this combination will give us the opportunity to explore the world of SVU with new eyes.”

Series veterans Ice-T and Richard Belzer will reprise their roles. With "Law & Order: Los Angeles," getting canceled last season, "SVU" will be the sole "Law & Order" franchise on NBC. The original series wrapped in 2010 after 20 seasons and numerous cast changes.

Are you excited about the new cast members? Sound off in the comments below.

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