Dick Wolf, creator of the Law & Order franchise, has weighed in on the controversial upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU, which guest stars former boxer Mike Tyson in his first acting gig playing someone other than himself. Tyson’s casting has come under attack from advocate groups protesting the involvement of a convicted rapist (Tyson served three years for a 1991 incident involving a Miss Black America pageant contestant) on a show dedicated to sex crime victims.
In the SVU episode, titled Monster’s Legacy, Tyson plays Reggie Rhodes, a murderer on death row whose violent actions may in part be the byproduct of sexual abuse as a child. His case attracts the attention of Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and defense attorney Bayard Ellis (Andre Braugher) during an SVU investigation. Also guest starring in the episode is Ed Asner. “It focuses on what can happen when there is an emotionally charged rush to judgment and it is, in my opinion, one of our strongest episodes in the last five years,” Wolf said in a note accompanying screeners for Monster’s Legacy. Originally scheduled for Feb. 13, the episode has been moved up to Feb. 6, sparking speculation that the shift may have been made so that the Mike Tyson episode does not air on the eve of One Billion Rising, a global event supporting rape and abuse survivors.