The wife of embattled Rep. Gary Condit is demanding an on-air retraction for a Law & Order episode about a Condit-like scandal that ends with the fictional congressman's wife admitting she killed the intern.
In a lawyer's letter to NBC, Carolyn Condit's attorneys complain that the Feb. 6 episode of Law & Order — called "Missing" — "depicted events and characters . . . which implied Ms. Condit was somehow involved in Chandra Levy's disappearance and that Ms. Condit spoke to Ms. Levy on the telephone."
"The episode contained several inaccuracies that were built upon tabloid reports and other spurious rumors," the letter said.
"It is undeniable that the viewing public would identify Ms. Condit as the wife depicted on the episode.
"The episode was defamatory because it showed the wife calling the Chandra Levy character and because it implied, in the very end, that the wife killed the Chandra Levy character."
The letter was obtained by Matt Drudge, who writes the Internet newsletter Drudge Report. He supplied a copy of the letter to The Post.
Brian Rishwain, a Los Angeles lawyer for Mrs. Condit, says the letter, mailed Thursday, demands that NBC broadcast a statement disavowing any connection to the California lawmaker's wife before the next episode of Law & Order, which airs tonight.
The show's producers, Dick Wolf and USA Studios, have told Rishwain they take the demand "very seriously," but have not yet decided whether to air a retraction.
A spokesman for NBC referred calls to USA, which acknowledged the demand but declined to comment.
"We believe there's no basis for her claim and . . . the show is fictional," said a spokesman for USA Studios.
Mrs. Condit's lawyers noted in their letter that "the show commences with the statement that it is ‘inspired in part by a true incident.' "
That means that people could infer that Mrs. Condit did, in fact, have something to do with intern Levy's disappearance, they said.
Among the unsubstantiated rumors surrounding the Levy case was that Carolyn Condit called the young intern and confronted her. She has vehemently denied it.
Gary Condit has never been officially considered a suspect in the disappearance, although he was romantically involved with Levy before she vanished last April.
But he has repeatedly denied having any hand in her disappearance, although his protests have not stopped intense media attention from focusing on him.
Last summer, Condit failed miserably in his biggest effort to burnish his image, when he dodged numerous questions about Levy in a supposedly tell-all interview with ABC's Connie Chung.
Law & Order, meanwhile, remains one of NBC's highest-rated shows — and makes no bones about its "ripped-from-the-headlines" stories.
This isn't the first time an episode has drawn fire.
Last year, NBC apologized to New York Hispanic leaders, who were angered about a show portraying the Central Park gang sex assaults that followed the 2000 Puerto Rican Day Parade.
In 1999, Monica Lewinsky's father, Bernard, complained about an episode of the spinoff, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in which characters used the slang term "to Lewinsky" to mean oral sex.
"I think it's disgusting they would even consider saying something like that," Dr. Bernard Lewinsky said.