Watch out: Television’s current longest-running drama takes on one of the nation’s oldest, and most prestigious, papers. In an episode that begins shooting today in New York City, NBC’s “Law & Order” is filming an installment mirroring the Jayson Blair scandal, which engulfed The New York Times and subsequently caused the ouster of its two top editors. This being “Law & Order,” though, the ripped-from-the-headlines episode will add a further twist, with the murder of a source by the reporter himself— all in order to keep the source from blowing the whistle to the paper’s top editors and to law enforcement.
According to FilmJerk.com sources, the episode – entitled “Bounty” – will focus on a black reporter named Brian Kellog, of the fictitious New York Tribune. Described as “likable, charismatic and intelligent,” the reporter publishes a highly-touted story about bookstore heir and fugitive rapist Mitchell Maas, which includes quotes from the on-the-lam perp. Maas later turns up dead— as does a bounty hunter trying to track him down. With Maas’ death, which has been ruled a homicide, Kellog can lay claim to having been the only reporter to have actually spoken to Maas. In the end, it turns out that the story was pure fabrication and that Kellog murdered Maas (who was on to the scam) after the rapist threatened to blow the whistle on Kellog.
Two of the other roles in the episode are seemingly based on real-life people: Wesley Schultz, the managing editor of the Tribune (shades of Gerald Boyd, who resigned June 5) and Sybil, Kellog’s secretary, the only person Kellog could not hide his true colors from (modeled after Zuza Glowacka, a member of the Times photo department, who was also Blair’s galpal).
Mark Jurkowitz of the Boston Globe recently called the Jayson Blair scandal “one of the biggest disasters in the paper’s history.” Blair resigned from his post at the Times on May 1 after being accused of plagiarism and fraud for dozens of embellished stories.
The airdate of the episode is currently unknown. The new season of “Law & Order,” which will be its fourteenth, begins September 24.
It has been a busy week on news regarding the Times, with Bill Keller assuming the top role as executive editor yesterday, the announcement that the paper will add a “public editor” to serve as an ombudsman, and the elevation of two editors to the role of co-managing editors today. Also announced this week was that Blair would be writing a review of the film “Shattered Glass” for Esquire Magazine, which focuses on, appropriately enough, a disgraced journalist who fell from grace after fabricating parts of a story on anti-drug programs.
Producers: Dick Wolf, Michael Chernuchin, Matthew Penn, Jeffrey Hayes and Kati Johnston
Director: Matthew Penn
Casting Director : Suzanne Ryan
Shoots: July 31 – August 11
Location: New York City
Production Company: Universal Network Television