by Breeanna Hare
“Law & Order: SVU” plans to turn the controversial Trayvon Martin and Paula Deen cases into primetime TV.
Executive producer Warren Leight tells Entertainment Weekly that the third episode of the 15th season will feature a story that combines the two trials that launched heated debates about race in the U.S. this summer.
“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,” Leight described.
Of course in the actual Trayvon Martin case, it was a Hispanic male, George Zimmerman, who was accused (and later acquitted) of killing 17-year-old Martin.
Celebrity chef Paula Deen, meanwhile, was in court facing a racial discrimination lawsuit rather than accusations of violence. (The suit, which was brought by one of Deen’s former employees, was dismissed by a federal judge in August.)
But even though “SVU” has changed the details of the Trayvon Martin story, Leight said the episode was a divisive one even amongst the cast.
“When the script was published it became a litmus test for everybody here,” he told EW. “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.”
In the upcoming episode, Cybill Shepherd will portray the Deen-esque character while Leslie Odom Jr. (“Smash”) will play a minister of the kid who gets killed.
The 15th season of “Law & Order: SVU” begins on September 25 with a two-hour premiere starting at 9 p.m.