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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Retiring U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson is returning to his acting and legal roots as the new chief prosecutor on NBC's ``Law & Order.''

His term ends in January, but he'll appear regularly during the show's 13th season beginning Oct. 2, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Tennessee Republican replaces Dianne Wiest, who played a district attorney the past two seasons. He'll also appear on two ``Law & Order'' spin-offs, ``Special Victims Unit'' and ``Criminal Intent.''

This will be Thompson's first foray into television after appearing in 18 feature films, including ``The Hunt for Red October,'' ``Die Hard 2'' and ``In the Line of Fire.''

He was assistant U.S. attorney in Tennessee and a lawyer in Washington, serving as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee at age 30.

The 59-year-old won former Vice President Al Gore's seat in the U.S. Senate in 1994 and was re-elected in 1996. He said in March that he's retiring for personal reasons.