“I think SAG should accept the fact that this is one giant ensemble and let them all run as a unit,” Dick Wolf said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour, referring to his triple threat “Chicago” franchise. The three NBC series just wrapped up a successful crossover last week and will be part of a four-way crossover next month, along with Wolf’s “Law & Order: SVU.”
Asked by a reporter if he thinks he’ll be successful in his request, with a laugh, Wolf said, “probably not.” Regardless of SAG’s ruling, one thing is certain: the “Chicago” shows are huge hits — and they’re growing.
As first reported by Variety ahead of Wolf’s panel at TCA, a fourth “Chicago” installment, “Chicago Law,” is being discussed at NBC.
During the “Chicago” panel, Wolf offered up a few more details on the potential legal drama. “It would be obviously short-sighted not to be sort of mutually kicking the tires on what that would be,” he said. Explaining that “Chicago Law” characters could be introduced within the current three shows, as previously reported, Wolf continued, “It would probably be in the legal system, and you may see, in the way you saw the last three years, some people doing legal things to give insight on where that would go.”
He added, “Would I like to do it? Of course… It’s a question of how that would operate and what the form would be, but there have been discussions. You talk about your dreams being fulfilled. This is literally a dream come true to have these shows operating. This synergy is beyond my expectations… I am very happy with what I’m doing and I would just like to be able to continue these shows.”
As for Wolf’s other show at NBC — “Law and Order: SVU,” which is currently in the midst of season 17 — the mega-producer says he sees many seasons to come, saying the drama is “doing phenomenally well, and I hope will be back for another round of years. Nobody’s getting tired of doing it.”
As for why his shows are such successes, Wolf explains it comes down to the characters and the city, calling Chicago “the heart of America.”
“The values in these three shows, I’m kind of unabashedly old-fashioned about. They’re heroes,” Wolf said of the wide appeal. “You can’t pay people to run into burning buildings. Doctors are not in it for the money any more either… Cop shows and basically medical shows have been around since the beginning of series television.”
On the topic of characters, Wolf was asked by a reporter why his shows do not showcase more LGBT roles, adding to the high volume of diversity questions throughout the entire press tour.
“We don’t go out of our way to integrate specific groups. I think that that’s short-sighted. I think that if it’s a natural story development, it should be utilized,” Wolf said. “I’ve never counted heads in any of the shows and said white, black, Hispanic. You cast actors who you think are going to bring new color to the palette. It certainly has not been avoided, but it is not something that the writers do not feel like they have to include. We have absolutely no objection to using them — or to developing characters who have that as part of their makeup.”
Wolf was also asked whether he will include storylines that touch on the recent controversial cop headlines from Chicago. “We steal the headlines, not the body copy,” he said. “Will there be any combination of police shootings under perhaps a variety of circumstances? Absolutely. We do not steer away from anything, but I am not a mouthpiece for the Chicago PD or any police department.”
Even though he doesn’t set out to make a statement based on the recent events, Wolf compassionately spoke more on the topic. “I think that in this environment, if you put yourself behind the wheel of a patrol car in what is acknowledged to be gang territory or disputed territory or a high crime rate territory and if you are a cop, whether you’re Chinese, Hispanic, black, white, you’re out on those streets, you don’t know whether you’re coming home that night… It’s a very dangerous job and mistakes are going to get made.”
Back to his expanding franchise, Wolf said, “I don’t think any way you can over-use a city that exemplifies the best, and at times the worst, of America. It’s an incredible canvas.”
Despite having four huge hits on broadcast television — and potentially five — however, Wolf did fess up to a project he’s been pitching for over two decades, but without much luck. “It’s called ‘School’ and it would start on the first day of kindergarten and run through hopefully the end of high school. It would be the same group of kids. I have bombed out in total at probably nine networks,” he said.