By Frank Shyong
Updated September 24, 2010 at 10:15 PM EDT
Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

Image Credit: NBCLaw & Order may be gone after 20 seasons and 456 episodes, but it certainly didn’t sound the death knell for the long-running franchise: It paved the way for Law & Order: Los Angeles, a veritable reboot of the courtroom series that will premiere this Wednesday on NBC. EW was invited to check out the set in downtown Los Angeles and learn about the show.

The move to Los Angeles was crucial, says Executive Producer Christopher Misiano, who wants to depict the entire city beyond Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Each episode will be named for and set in various neighborhoods of L.A., including shows about hipster haunt Echo Park, the oil rigs of Hondo Field, and suburban Sylmar. Celebrity plots and cameos will be kept to a minimum, though, so don’t expect Justin Bieber to stop by and mouth off to the cops.

“The goal is to make the best show possible while keeping it as based in reality as possible,” said Misiano.

Alfred Molina and Regina Hall, who were also on set, discussed their characters. He plays District Attorney Ricardo Morales, the son of Latino immigrants with a chip on his shoulder. (I’m imagining Doctor Octopus in a courtroom. Even mentally subtracting the extra arms, I suspect he’ll be an intimidating sight.) “It’s my story, really. My parents were immigrants, I was the first one in my family to go to college…it rang a few bells.” said Molina. Hall plays Evelyn Price, a deputy district attorney who says she’ll serve as Molina’s conscience on the show.

To help launch the new series next week, Mariska Hargitay will participate in a crossover episode between Law & Order: SVU and Los Angeles. She’ll do it with Los Angeles star Skeet Ulrich, who plays a detective.

As for the Los Angeles set, it’s rich with detail, down to the Dodgers paraphernalia on the desks. The tour for the press started in the LAPD bullpen, then moved to the district attorney’s office which also featured a new office for Terrence Howard, who signed on to the show a month ago to play a prosecutor. It ended in the courtroom – which, as a current resident of the city, I can say is an authentic representation of the local government architecture. That means it’s pretty ugly, right down to the faded, toothpaste-green marble and retro light fixtures.

What do you think, Popwatchers? Can Law & Order work outside of New York?