He Likens His Shows to Mercedes, Not Ferraris
With four series (including ‘Chicago Fire’), four reality shows (including ‘Cold Justice’) and some of the longest-running, best-known franchises (‘Law & Order’), The Hollywood Reporter’s 2015 TV Producer of the Year says he deliberately creates shows that “are not flashy. But they run for hundreds of thousands of miles.”
This story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
“You’ve got to see this,” says Dick Wolf, swiping through the photos on his iPhone. He finds what he’s hunting for: a snapshot of a tattoo on a fan’s calf made up of the four words that appear at the conclusion of every one of his television shows: Executive Producer Dick Wolf. Adds the 68-year-old producer: “Somebody’s got one on their tricep, too. I suppose it’s an insane compliment?”
He’s gotten plenty of sane ones, as well. With an unprecedented two back-to-back hit franchises — Law & Order and Chicago Fire — he’s among the most successful producers in TV history. Come the 2015-16 season, Wolf Films, his production company, will be responsible for a staggering four hours of NBC’s weekly schedule, with a newly added medical spinoff, Chicago Med, joiningChicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and the long-running Law & Order: SVU, now wrapping its 16th season. In addition, the network is prepping a one-hour Wolf-produced live special, You the Jury, which will give viewers a chance to decide the verdict in real-life civil cases.
In recent years, Wolf also has been making a push into unscripted, with projects including TNT’sCold Justice and A&E’s Nightwatch. He has tentacles in publishing, too, where he’s churned out a collection of best-selling thrillers — his third novel, The Ultimatum, comes out in June — that he’d like to turn into television fare.
The Manhattan native followed his father into the advertising business before turning his attention to Hollywood, where he landed his first TV gig tapping out scripts for Hill Street Blues. Thirty years and a million “chung-chungs” later, his team is in the middle of talks for a new deal that’ll likely be among the richest in television to keep him at his longtime home, Universal Television.
During an interview at his office on the Universal lot, the married father of five and two-time Emmy winner opens up about his biggest frustrations, the time Barry Diller told him to get down on his knees and the real reason he’s pushing into reality TV.
FIND THE Q & A HERE AT THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER WEBSITE