At a Chicago party on Monday for Dick Wolf’s trilogy of Windy City shows — “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and the upcoming “Chicago Med” — fans of the first two shows got good news: Both were picked up for the 2016-2017 season.
But there might also be welcome news for fans of the original “Law & Order.” Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC, and Dick Wolf, executive producer of NBC’s three Chicago dramas as well as “Law & Order: SVU” — both in attendance — said they’ve been trying to get a “Law & Order” revival off the ground.
The idea would be to cherry-pick cast members from various incarnations of the “L&O” mothership and create an event series consisting of 10 to 13 episodes.
“We’ve been talking about it on and off for the past year or so, trying to figure out how to do it right,” Greenblatt said. “We would only do a close-ended [season]. I don’t t think we’d start the show up again. Nothing’s ruled out, but I think initially we’re thinking, let’s just do another set of episodes and see what we have and take it from there.”
“Everybody involved is busy. It’s scheduling,” said Wolf. “I know Sam [Waterston] wants to do it.”
Seated a few feet away from Wolf at sleek Chicago restaurant STK was S. Epatha Merkerson, a “Law & Order” veteran who plays the top hospital administrator in “Chicago Med.” Clearly she’s busy with the new show, but Greenblatt said he and Wolf continue to “wrangle” the idea of a classic “L&O” revival (it would be set in New York, naturally).
“It doesn’t matter when it goes on. It can go on mid-season,” Wolf said. “It’s just when everybody can time their schedules to do it.”
Wolf also has a showrunner in mind for the reunion: Rene Balcer, an “L&O” veteran responsible for some of the show’s best runs. Wolf said reuniting the show’s writers would be as important as reassembling the staff, because creating the hybrid law-and-cops show is “a very specific skill set.”
Balcer “knows ‘Law & Order,’” Wolf said. “If he’s available when everybody else frees up, he’d be the obvious first choice.”
Of course, “Law & Order: SVU” is still going strong, and that show will once again crossover with the Chicago shows this season. And the trio of first-responder dramas will also continue to share characters and story lines.
“I don’t want to sound intellectually elitist, but it’s kind of like Dickens’ London. The characters can move back and forth effortlessly,” Wolf said.
Of course, scheduling major crossovers creates headaches for his producers, Wolf admitted with a laugh. “Everybody hates it except me,” Wolf said.
Wolf got a big laugh from the crowd when he addressed the assembled casts of all three shows.
“I’m thrilled that we’re here and succeeding and I’m very optimistic about ‘Chicago Hope,’” Wolf told the crowd, before catching his mistake. “Not a bad show to have as a prior model. Look, I would rather have ‘ER,’” he joked.
“It’s a natural confusion,” Wolf said as the crowd guffawed. “If you want good medical care, you come to Chicago. I hope we’re here for more than the next decade.”
It’s not surprising that the producers and actors in the crowd — who included Kara Killmer, David Eigenberg and Eamonn Walker — were willing to give Wolf a break over his verbal slip. As Greenblatt pointed out in remarks to the crowd, the “L&O” franchise has churned out a grand total of 1,053 hours of television and has employed more than 35,000 actors. The Chicago trilogy has some catching up to do: So far, the shows set in the Windy City have cranked out 150 hours of programming and have given jobs to 5,000 actors.
“I grew up about 80 miles away and I left because the weather was terrible,” Greenblatt said to the crowd. “This is a great city full of culture, and there are many heroes in this city, and hopefully we’re depicting some of them and some of their stories.”
Greenblatt and Wolf said they hadn’t had much trouble luring actors to the city. That said, Oliver Platt, who is part of the “Chicago Med” cast and attended the party, did require a little coaxing.
“I talked to Oliver for the first time and said, ‘Why don’t you come out and do ‘Chicago Med?’” Wolf said. “He said, ‘Dick, the winters are very long.’ And I said, ‘But Oliver, you’re in a hospital. You don’t go outside.’”