“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” rips another juicy scandal from the headlines in Wednesday night’s episode that begins with the kidnapping of a baby from a playground and winds up with a twisted case of lies, betrayal and infidelity.
In the “Vanity’s Bonfire” episode, Scott Bakula plays Kent Webster, a prominent New York City law professor, who is being groomed to become a member of the Supreme Court. When a young woman (Bijou Phillips) steals a baby from a city playground, claiming she is the baby’s biological mother, she also points the finger at Webster as being the baby daddy.
Things get even more scandalous — and familiar — when it turns out that Webster has a seriously ill wife at home (played by Jessica Hecht), as well as a teenage daughter. And when the young woman he has had an affair with comes to their home, things becomes very emotional — and very destructive.
“I’m always interested in trying to just find the human angle,” Bakula said in a conference call to promote the episode. ” I might reference some people that have had similar experiences in their lives in the public eye and do a little research in that sense. That’s what I did for this.”
So what public figure did Bakula use as his reference point? None other than former presidential candidate John Edwards, who famously fathered a child with Rielle Hunter and initially denied paternity, while his wife Elizabeth was battling cancer.
“I did a little bit of research on some of the story surrounding John Edwards and some of the press conferences and things that he went through,” Bakula says. “I read some things in the news, real events and kind of referenced a little bit of that but other that, no [I didn't do any other research].”
That said, it remains to be seen if Bakula actually is the baby daddy. There are the usual “SVU” twists and turns to the story.
“He’s tricky and I don’t want to give too much away,” Bakula adds. “He loves his wife. He loves his daughter. And he’s also made some mistakes outside of his marriage… “Most of the time, people expect characters that I play to do be good guys that do the right thing. So it’s always fun to mess with the audience’s head a little bit with that. So you don’t know how I’m going to be turning out in this episode.”
Bakula’s episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” airs Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 9/8c on NBC.