“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will on Thursday air an episode inspired by Jussie Smollett’s case, and it doesn’t look like good news for the disgraced actor.
A promo released last week declares that the plot will be “Ripped From the Headlines.” It shows a black celebrity named Matthis dramatically recounting being attacked and then accusing the New York Police Department of “trying to make me look like a liar.”
“Now his story is a national obsession,” a voiceover intones.
The clip for Season 21, Episode 3 features Ice-T, who plays detective Odafin Tutuola, looking skeptical, and ends with lead detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) declaring, “I’m not letting this go.”
As fans of NBC’s long-running “Law & Order” franchise know, the cops usually get their man. Liberal critics of the shows have even accused creator Dick Wolf of being too pro-police.
“Law & Order: Jussie Smollett”
In real life, it’s Chicago authorities who have beef with Smollett. The former star of Fox’s “Empire” TV show made national headlines by claiming in January that two masked men jumped him outside his Chicago apartment, calling him racist and homophobic slurs and shouting, “This is ‘MAGA’ country!”
Chicago police at first investigated the incident as a possible hate crime. Many other celebrities as well as activists, politicians and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of President Donald Trump’s America.
However, in February, police arrested Smollett and charged him with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly orchestrating the attack as a publicity stunt. Fox cut ties with the actor and removed him from the final two episodes “Empire” Season 5, which was canceled after one more season.
Then, in April, Chicago police sued Smollett for $130,000 in costs related to investigating his allegations. Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in August appointed Dan Webb, a former federal prosecutor, to reinvestigate the Smollett case. Webb has the power to reinstate charges, and appears to be seriously considering the move.
Smollett, for his part, has maintained his innocence and continued to claim that he is being persecuted. Last week, he lashed out at online commentators for suggesting he inspired a 12-year-old black student who last month admitted to lying about being attacked by her white classmates.
Meanwhile, NBC in March delayed plans to roll out “Law & Order: Hate Crimes,” the seventh series in the franchise, which was supposed to spin-off from an episode of “SVU “this season. But NBC Entertainment co-chairman Paul Telegdy said in May that he was “confident” series would still happen.