REPORT: Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation Unaware of Mike Tyson ‘SVU’ Casting

REPORT: Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation Unaware of Mike Tyson ‘SVU’ Casting
January 25, 2012
Janice Daniels
Just when you think this, dare I say disgusting, news about Mike Tyson on NBC’s SVU had reached it’s peak (him being cast in SVU, rape victims petitioning to get him off and urging NBC to pull the episode, NCIS star Pauley Perrette supporting the petition, and other outlets – such as NY’s BUST MagazineJezebel, The Wrap, and more – learning of this); it just gets worse.
As it turns out, Mariska Hargitay’s organization, the Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports women who have been raped and abused, has released a statement, saying that they were unaware of the former boxer/convicted rapist Mike Tyson being cast in SVU. Responding to viewers and survivors cries:
First and foremost, I want to say, “We hear you.” We acknowledge and recognize that this casting decision may be confusing, triggering and perhaps even painful for some people–especially those who are survivors of violence and abuse.
For more than a decade, SVU has been instrumental in shining a much-needed light on the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. In fact, Joyful Heart would not exist if not for the show and the path it created for our founder and president to awaken to the realities of sexual violence and forge a deep connection to survivors.
And while we are proud of our work with the show, it is not a part of any formal relationship. While we have been blessed to work collaboratively on many occasions, final production decisions are outside of the role of Joyful Heart’s relationship to the show. We were not aware of this casting choice and we have formally expressed our concerns to the executives and producers at SVU.
At Joyful Heart, we strive to keep survivors at the center of all we do, and have abiding compassion for those who have suffered as a result of violence and abuse. We are deeply sorry if this choice on the part of SVU has, in any way, caused any hurt.
So the decision to cast Tyson is solely that of SVU executive producer/show runner Warren Leight and casting director Jonathan Strauss (Twitter: @warrenleightTV and @JSCasting) — I’m not surprised, anyone else?
Offering my opinion in this: NBC should just pull the episode, whether the petition garners 1 million signatures (I wish it would). FOX pulls episodes of Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy and American Dad! when they feel episodes might stir controversy – most recently they’ve pulled episodes due to the Sandy Hook Elem. School shooting in December 2012 –  the same should apply here with NBC and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
I don’t even want to tell everyone Law & Order: SVU returns Wednesday, but then again, you probably already know that and don’t care regardless. Hit us in the comments!

4 thoughts on “REPORT: Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation Unaware of Mike Tyson ‘SVU’ Casting

  1. HI Janice, Thank you on behalf myself and other survivors for getting the word out! I saw this as well and thought how awful that Warren Leight and others would not make JHF aware of their newest casting choice. They obviously did not care what this might do to this foundation. I was very happy to see it though b/c they have had a great response from viewers. myself included. My hope is that everyone continues to support JHF! As for SVU, I think everyone knows my feelings on that!

  2. Very well said. I’m sure The JHF only spoke out because they had to (they and Mariska were getting hit pretty hard by some people), but I’m glad they did. Unfortunately, NBC will not pull this episode. And unfortunately Warren Leight and Jonathan Strauss don’t care about the victims/survivors. It’s also unfortunate that everything from Warren Leight to Jonathan Strauss to NBC to Mike Tyson to The JHF’s statement is all about publicity. In the end I hope the right thing is done, and I hope everyone keeps speaking out and being heard.

  3. Warren Leight is a prick for allowing this to happen. And Mariska has lost a fan because I feel she could have took a stand against it and they would have listened to her, so Warren and Mariska and SVU was it worth losing more fans than you already have since Warren took over this show that should have been canceled several years ago when it had run its course? No longer a fan of SVU or Mariska or The JHF. Period. From, A Survivor

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