Nellie Andreeva

Ever since we broke the news of former boxer Mike Tyson‘s guest stint on NBC’s veteran crime drama Law & Order: SVU, the casting has become a lighting rod for controversy as it involves Tyson, who was convicted of rape 20 years ago, appearing on a show about getting justice for sex crime victims. NBC has now moved up the episode, originally scheduled for February 13, to February 6. According to the Washington Post, the move was made so that the Mike Tyson episode does not air on the eve of One Billion Rising, a global event supporting rape and abuse survivors. It follows weeks of pressure from advocate groups who have protested the casting, including launching a petition asking NBC to recast the role. In a recent TV Guide interview, Tyson, who continues to profess his innocence in the 1991 incident involving a Miss Black America pageant contestant for which he served 3 years, defended his gig. “I’m just trying to feed my family,” he said. “I’m clean and sober five years, I haven’t broken any laws or did any crimes. I’m just trying to live my life.” Tyson plays Reggie Rhodes, a murderer on death row whose violent actions may in part be the byproduct of a horrible childhood. His case attracts the attention of Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and defense attorney Bayard Ellis (recurring guest star Andre Braugher) during an SVU investigation. Also guest starring in the episode is Ed Asner as someone connected to the investigation. This marks the first time Tyson is portraying a character other than himself.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.

Get Deadline news and alerts sent to your inbox.