New York Times Law & Ad-er

Sunday’s New York Times featured what was essentially a full-page ad for the series finale of NBC’s “Law & Order.” The show’s 20-year run ends Monday night, and from the Times coverage (and, say, this op-ed) you’d think it was more essential to New York’s fiscal fitness than Wall Street.

In Sunday’s Times piece, a mocked-up edition of L&O’s fictional New York Ledger (slideshow here) features the headline “RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES,” along with this text:

These are not just “their stories.” Many of the 456 episodes that made up the stunning 20-year run of “Law & Order” were based on real, recognizable news stories – loosely based, at least.

“We take the headline, not the body copy,” Dick Wolf, the show’s creator, explained in 1997, “because the first half of the show is a murder mystery and the second half is usually a moral mystery.”

Mr. Wolf’s writers combed through every daily paper, the tabloids always offering the best grist, and reached back into the archives for characters like the Mayflower Madam (“By Hook or By Crook,” 1990). Often, multiple unrelated headlines were ripped as fodder for a single episode; sometimes characters leaked tips to the fictitious New York Ledger.

The piece details 10 “Law & Order” ripped episodes.

Kind of like the ripped-off readers of the New York Times.

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