The NY Times City section has a long feature about Law & Order's dramatization of the Adrienne Shelly murder. It was inevitable that the police procedural warhorse would cover one of the more bizarre and tragic murders in recent memory, and a casting notice for someone to play the illegal immigrant laborer who assaults an woman after she complains about construction noise confirmed that L&O would be tackling the story.
The article looks at how the story evolved from headline to script (some shades of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh's death), how the episode's director Jean de Segonzac worked with Shelly on Homicide, and producer Dick Wolf's barber and Dean & DeLuca counterman suggested the show do an episode on the murder. There's mention of the typical Law & Order dark humor that will be in scene where cops see the body (a medical examiner says next to the body, hanging from a shower rod, “It’s about time. You have any idea what it’s like being stuck in here with a swinger?”) and also description about how the murder will be discovered:
For “Melting Pot,” the trickiest location was probably the victim’s apartment, primarily because the opening scene called for her body to be spotted from an apartment across a street.
To find a pair of apartments with the right “Rear Window” relationship, members of the location department dove into their file cabinets, which contain dossiers on 23,000 locations in the metropolitan area. They came up with three promising pairs of apartments, two on the Upper West Side and one in Inwood. After checking out all three locations, the scouts settled on the Inwood choice, a co-op whose vacant apartments could provide locations for ancillary scenes.
There's some question about whether Law & Order is exploiting Shelly, who did act in an episode. It definitely skates on the edge, but nothing about the show has been sacred before (we suspect Dick Wolf would do a story about his own murder if he could). Jesse L. Martin, who plays Detective Ed Green, says hat one time, when they were filming an episode about a city worker's shooting (we think he's referring to when City Councilman James Davis was shot at City Hall), the victim's brother was on set and was, as Martin tells the Times, "really, really, really upset, and no amount of explaining to him that we were not doing the same story could satiate him."
Do you think this upcoming episode of Law & Order exploits the story? Earlier this week, Daily News critic-at-large David Hinckley longed for the days when TV movies were popular, because the crazy astronaut-love-triangle would be perfect. And Shelly's husband, Andrew Ostroy, did not comment. He is devoting his attention to the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a non-profit aimed at raising money for girls to attend film school.
Photograph of the Law & Order courtroom set by Bluejake