Weeping Willow is an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
While the Law & Order shows routinely draw on inspiration from real-life events in an approach the creators call "ripped from the headlines," Criminal Intent producers referred to the Weeping Willow episode as "'pre-ripping' from the headlines" because the script took a real-life event (the lonelygirl15 phenomenon) and added to it a fictional dramatic conflict (the kidnapping). The so-called "cyber-kidnapping" portrayed in Weeping Willow is believed to be the first such crime ever portrayed on television. While the writers and producers prepared the episode, several district attorneys they consulted said the law was dangerously vague in what charges could be filed in the event of such a real-life cyber-kidnapping; Wright said, "They told me that this is a real problem, that there's a lag between what's on the books now and what's happening out there."
The script also includes a difficulty on the part of the detectives in coping and dealing this new form of cyber-crime and differentiating the truth from the hoax; Leight said, "Their biggest frustration is trying to understand what's real and what isn't. Does this woman, Willow, really exist, and has something happened to her? Is she playing a character and a game that's gotten out of hand? And how do you locate someone in cyberspace?"
Julianne Nicholson, the actress who plays Detective Megan Wheeler, said Weeping Willow was her favorite Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode. She described it as "really different from a lot of the ones we've done before and very exciting and current." She also said she enjoyed working with Michelle Trachtenberg and the other supporting actors, as well as director Tom DiCillo, who directed Living in Oblivion, one of Nicholson's favorite movies.
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