Law & Order accused of stealing character from real life. Duh!


I have this fantasy that hidden among the pack of reporters drawn to every tragedy du jour is a writer for Law & Order, feverishly recording the incident in script form. When done, he/she does a global 'search and replace' of names and the script is ready to shoot.

Apparently, my fantasy is shared by New York attorney Ravi Batra, who has filed suit against the show's producers, claiming the character Ravi Patel was obviously a roman a clef version of himself. In the show, the proceedings were similar to Mr. Batra's parenthetical involvement in the bribery scandal of Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr. However, in true Law and Order style, the fictional story included dead bodies and overt criminal acts by Mr. Batra Patel.

Batra's case depends on his ability to demonstrate that the average viewer would recognize the character as Mr. Batra. He is one of six Manhattan lawyers with the first name of Ravi, and claims to be the only one resembling the actor. Perhaps the character should have been named Bob Patel.

The court has allowed this case to move forward to the discovery stage, so the issue is very much up in the air.
If you don't catch word of the verdict, never fear; it'll probably become an episode on next year's Law and Order.

I stand in awe of New York Times journalist Sewell Chan's lead for this story in the NYT: " In the criminal justice system of television's "Law & Order," the plots are inspired by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the television writers who craft the intricate if sometimes convoluted episodes, and the real-life characters who inspire those writers. This is one of their stories."

Well done, Mr. Chan.