This Friday, “Law and Order” fans should get ready for some legal advice. Actor Sam Waterston ’62, TV’s favorite district attorney and one of Yale’s most prominent celebrity alums, returns to campus for some cross-examination.
Waterston, an actor best known for his role on the popular TV series, is returning to give the third annual Elihu Yale Lecture, co-sponsored by the Elihu Club and the Yale Dramatic Association. The talk, titled “The Good Side of Television: Public Defender, Advocate, Educator,” is planned to be a question-and-answer session for Waterston to share his experiences in the world of performing arts.
Elihu Club member Scott Cannell ’57, who was instrumental in bringing the actor to campus, said Waterston’s continuing success makes him an ideal candidate for reaching a wide audience.
“He’s a familiar face — he appears on TV every night, sometimes twice a night, and he also helps produce the show. He’s highly respected by many generations of fans,” Cannell said.
Bobby Kolba ’06, the president of the Yale Dramat, said he is excited to hear from Dramat alumnus Waterston because of the insights the actor will no doubt share about his own Yale theatrical background.
“Theater is a huge part of Yale — It really serves a large part of the Yale community. This kind of event allows us to reach out to lots of people, beyond the usual strong theater base,” Kolba said.
However, the talk will be more than just anecdotes from past Yale experiences. The lecture gives the actor an opportunity to discuss a combination of both entertainment and real-life issues. Cannell explained that Waterston’s role on “Law and Order” places him in a unique position to talk about the content of the show, as well as its inner workings and the behind-the-scenes aspects of production.
“‘Law and Order’ discusses many issues important to the public, and it lets the public see both sides of the issues being discussed,” he said.
Waterston’s appearance marks the continuing development and growth in popularity of the lecture series, whose previous speakers include Yale professor Alexander Garvin. Elihu Club president Andrew Towne ’05 said that he feels such lectures are particularly valuable for current Yale students.
“It’s always exciting to get to know prominent Yale alumni who choose to return to campus to give back to their school,” he said.
Indeed, Waterston can’t seem to tear himself away from New Haven. He starred in the Yale Rep’s production of “The Black Monk” in 2003 and will appear this May in the Long Wharf Theatre’s “Travesties.”
Cannnell agreed, saying that the lecture series is an important way for alumni to reach out to undergraduates.
“We had a rich undergrad experience, so it’s fun to come back and enrich others in turn. It’s payback time,” Cannell said.
Spoken like a true “Law and Order” fan.