"Law & Order: SVU" is taking the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman trial and the Paula Deen controversy and mixing elements of each into one upcoming episode scheduled to run this October.
Cybill Shepherd will play the role of Jolene Castille, a Southern celebrity chef charged with murder after gunning down a black teenager wearing a hoodie in New York’s Upper West Side.
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“[Jeffrey] Tambor is a defense attorney representing a very high-profile celebrity woman chef who thought she was being pursued by a rapist and turned around it was a teenager. And she shot him,” said Executive Producer Warren Leight said in an interview with EW
. “There’s a lot of stop and frisk elements to that as well.”
The episode fits in with the series’ strategy of basing its stories on real-life crimes. One recent episode depicted a violent love affair between two pop stars, which the New York Post noted “bore a striking resemblance to Rihanna and Chris Brown’s stormy romantic history.”
Other episodes have drawn parallels to Mel Gibson’s drunken driving/anti-Semitic rant and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s dabbling with prostitutes.
Entertaiment Weekly reports Leslie Odom Jr., will play the role of a minister of the slain teen. The episode will examine racial profiling, along with the question, “Can that happen in New York? Absolutely,” Leight told EW.
Leight is under no illusions and says the episode will be seen as controversial. He said the script even showed divisions in the "SVU" team.
“It was really interesting to see people read that script and have different interpretations about who did what and whether or not they deserved prison for it. It was fascinating,” he told EW.
Season 15 of "Law & Order: SVU" debuts with a 2-hour episode on Sept. 25.
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