By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 10, 2001 01:00 PM
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Real and reel police officers on Thursday night raided Manhattan’s Lansky Lounge — so named because, in the ’30s, it was an actual speakeasy with connections to notorious mobster Meyer Lansky — for a Court TV party celebrating the launch of the upcoming fall season of ABC’s “NYPD Blue.” (Court TV is partly owned by AOL Time Warner, which owns PEOPLE.) Cast members old and new, including Garcelle Beauvais, Henry Simmons, Esai Morales and the new cop on the block, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, 28 (who’s replacing Rick Schroder, 31), sipped mimosas and noshed on knishes, reports PEOPLE. Gosselaar told the magazine that his character, John Clarke Jr., will be different from Schroder’s (Det. Danny Sorenson). “My character,” said the relatively fresh-faced actor, who is a California native, “has a father who is a detective in the Bronx, and so I don’t need the father figure that Rick Schroder’s character needed in Sipowicz.” He was referring to the role played by Dennis Franz, Det. Andy Sipowicz. Meanwhile, TV’s “Entertainment Tonight” has confirmed that Schroder’s character, whose outcome was left in question on last season’s finale (in which a hooker was found dead in his apartment), is indeed dead. Rumors of Sorenson’s demise were further fueled by a New York Post photo last week that showed a funeral scene being shot for the show, featuring a weeping Sipowicz, among others, standing over a coffin draped with a police flag.