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SVU Trayvon Deen: 'Law & Order' To Mesh 2 Recent Racial Plots

Image: SVU Trayvon Deen: 'Law & Order' To Mesh 2 Recent Racial Plots Cybill Shephard

By Clyde Hughes   |   Friday, 23 Aug 2013 08:10 AM

Paula Deen meets Trayvon Martin in "Law & Order: SVU" as the NBC series meshes the circumstances in the two cases in the third episode of its 15th season.

Cybill Shephard is playing a celebrity chef, and Leslie Odom, Jr., of "Smash," will play the minister of the slain child in the episode that will carry out the heavily-racial themes exposed in both cases this summer, according to Entertainment Weekly.

In the "Law & Order" episode, "Arrested Development's" Jeffrey Tambor will portray a "defense attorney representing a very high profile celebrity woman chef who thought she was being pursued by a rapist and turned around (to find) a teenager. And she shot him," is how SVU's executive producer Warren Leight described the show to CNN.

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"Is racial profiling justifiable? Can self-defense involve racial profiling? We’re diving right into that," said Leight, conceding that the episode will divide its audience but hopefully will start a healthy discussion on the topic. "Can that happen in New York? Absolutely."

Leight told Entertainment Weekly those divisions will be shown among the characters on the SVU team itself.

"When the script was published it became a litmus test for everybody here," said Leight. "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."

The 2012 death of Martin exploded this summer in a dramatic trial in Sanford, Fla., where Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman, the man shot the unarmed teenager, was acquitted on grounds of self-defense on July 13.

Zimmerman's acquittal sparked rallies in support of the teenager in more than 100 cities around the country and discussion about the effectiveness of so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, reported USA Today.

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Deen, meanwhile, was in court facing a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by one of Deen's former employees. Even though the suit was dismissed by a federal judge in August, depositions exposed her past use of racial slurs, leading to her losing her cooking show, endorsements and book deals.

The 15th season of "Law & Order: SVU" begins on Sept. 25 with a two-hour premiere starting at 9 p.m.

Related stories:

Dennis Farina, Who Played 'Law & Order' Detective, Dies at 69

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