Legal-based skein producer honored

NEW YORK — Although NATPE 2002 may be remembered as a very different-looking convention, seeing prolific series creator-producer Dick Wolf accept the org’s Creative Achievement Award on Jan. 23 should strike a familiar chord.

After all, he’s already won a multitude of honors, including the award of excellence from the Banff Television Festival, the Anti-Defamation League’s entertainment industry award, the leadership and inspiration award from the Entertainment Industries Council, and the 1998 Television Showman of the Year Award from the Publicists Guild of America.

Wolf has spearheaded primetime’s current longest-running scripted (nonanimation) series, “Law & Order,” which has racked up a number of honors itself — including a record 10 consecutive drama series Emmy nominations (with one win in 1997) — and has a guaranteed pickup through 2005.

Factor in spinoffs “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” one made-for movie (“Exiled: A Law & Order Movie”), highly praised syndicated reality strip “Arrest & Trial” last season and the upcoming NBC reality series “Crime & Punishment” and there’s no debating Wolf’s mark on the television landscape.

“To be recognized by your peers at a convention of this magnitude is a moment I will never forget,” says Wolf, who will pick up his hardware at the National Assn. of Television program Executives confab’s general session Jan. 23.

More to do

Although he has more than 25 years as a creative force on television (earlier credits include writer-producer on “Hill Street Blues” and “Miami Vice”), Wolf still has goals that he would like to see fulfilled.

“I would like to see ‘Law & Order’ get nominated for Emmys for, at least, the next two years in the best series category, pushing it past historical leaders ‘Cheers’ and ‘MASH,’ ” says Wolf. “I’m also hoping to see the show around for a 21st season, one more than ‘Gunsmoke,’ the longest-running regularly scheduled show in the history of primetime.”

Given the continued critical praise for the always evolving “L&O” and the show’s ranking — No. 5 this season (out of 128 shows) in households and total viewers (its best ever) — Wolf might well see those goals met.

Syndie aspirations

Though he has made his mark during primetime, Wolf is quick to add that other time periods are left to conquer.

“Nothing would make me happier than finding a hit in syndication,” notes Wolf. “I’m proud of what we accomplished with ‘Arrest & Trial’ in the short amount of time we had last season. It told the kind of unified stories you don’t normally see in syndication.

“If I can find another formula as equally unique and story-driven, I wouldn’t mind taking another crack at a daily series. That’s what this business is all about: picking and choosing the right formula, working hard and hoping it succeeds.”

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