Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More L&O in the news: Filming at the United Nations

No new revelations -- but expect scenes from the United Nations in an upcoming episode. This, from CNN today (full article here):

The U.N. recently opened the gates of its New York headquarters to the NBC Universal show "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" for the filming of an episode scheduled to air Tuesday. The taping marked the first time in its nearly 60-year history that the United Nations has allowed its iconic location to be used as a setting in a major network television production.

Series stars Stephanie March, who plays Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot, and Christopher Meloni, along with nearly 200 other cast and crew members, came to the U.N. on March 7 to film an episode revolving around child soldiers, refugees, warlords and the International Criminal Court.

Meloni described how the U.N. episode "really does kind of revolve around child soldiers, how they've been brainwashed, the horrible journeys that they've had to endure and how they can be assimilated back and be productive. And I think in this particular episode, we're trying to carry on with whatever clout we may possess. We have the medium to shine the light out there and tell this story."

Considering the "ripped-from-the-headlines" and complicated themes regarding conflict in Africa and the ICC, "Special Victims Unit" writers and actors relied on Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast as a consultant throughout the filming.

The Enough Project is an advocacy group committed to preventing genocide, crimes against humanity and other atrocities in six historically tumultuous African nations.

Prendergast explained that he perceived the episode as "one where reality dovetailed quite neatly with fiction, and hopefully more people will understand now what is happening in real life with President Bashir and Sudan, and then the accountability for war crimes because they saw it on 'Law & Order.' "

The "Special Victims Unit" filming was the first official project within Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's newly formed Creative Community Outreach Initiative. The intent of the program is to establish a relationship with international film and television industries to enhance the image of the United Nations and to "raise the profile of critical global issues," according to a U.N. representative.

Eric Falt, director of the U.N.'s outreach initiative, elaborated: "We're starting a program where we're going to say to filmmakers, people who produce television series, that we are essentially open for business. You want to come to the U.N.? Talk to us. We'll make it happen."

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