×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dick Wolf on What’s Next After His NBC Deal Expires and Why He’ll Never Retire

Casting is an area of television production that is of great importance to uber-producer Dick Wolf, and he makes sure that he has the last word on that, he tells Variety at the Monte Carlo TV Festival, which is paying tribute to the career of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Mariska Hargitay, and also hosting “Chicago P.D.’s” Jon Seda, “Chicago Med’s” S. Epatha Merkerson, and “Law & Order: SVU’s” Philip Winchester.

“Casting is the most subjective area of TV production — one man’s meat is another man’s poison — and frankly, if I’m going to go all in on a new member of an ensemble, or when you are starting a show, if it is not the right choice I want it to be my wrong choice [than for me to say] to a third party, a showrunner or a network, ‘OK, so you choose,’” Wolf says.

He adds: “It’s the one thing that I’ve managed to maintain my independence on for 35 years. You have got to trust somebody’s gut and I’d prefer to trust mine than other people’s.”

Another skill that Wolf values very highly, of course, is writing, but he doesn’t feel the industry values it enough when it comes to judging procedurals. He says the thing “that has made me craziest over the years” is that “Law & Order” still has the record for 11 best drama Emmy nominations in a row, but the show’s writers only picked up one nomination in that time. “How do you think [the show] got that good?” he asks. “It’s the writing, stupid,” he adds, referring to a message on a card he once delivered to all the network chiefs.

Wolf is comfortable with his relationship with NBCUniversal, but he’ll be open to all options, including going it alone without a studio deal, when his present pact with the studio ends in 2020. “It’s always a free-floating decision,” he says.

Wolf has strong relationships all over Hollywood, of course, a fact emphasized when CBS gave Wolf’s drama “FBI” a 13-episode order back in September. “I’ve known [CBS CEO] Leslie Moonves for 35 years or so, and it is very comfortable,” he says.

He concedes that Amazon Studios, where former NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke has made her home, is one potential partner for his new shows, but, he adds: “I would be much happier if somebody came along and bought the entire library of all the ‘Law & Order’ and ‘Chicago’ shows, and there are several companies that can do that, and I hope one of them does.”

He underscores the importance of creative independence to him when he decides where to place his shingle, but he says NBCU has always respected that. “They’ve never interfered on any story we’ve wanted to do, on any show. There is no censorship. There is no feeling that ‘oh, you are not listening to us,” he says.

Whatever he decides to do in 2020 there is one option that is off the table: retirement. When asked if he wouldn’t want to spend the rest of his life relaxing and enjoying his money, he retorts: “Yeah, that sounds pretty boring.” He says that he had “a moment of insight” at a school reunion when he noticed a “five to seven year visual difference between the retirees and the people who were still working.” So, work keeps him young? “Oh, I hope so,” he says, with a laugh.

More TV

  • Jussie Smollett Mugshot Released by Chicago

    Jussie Smollett Mugshot Released by Chicago Police

    Chicago police released the mugshot of Jussie Smollett Thursday after the actor was arrested and in custody of detectives. Smollett is facing criminal charges for allegedly filing a false police report. During a press conference Thursday morning, Chicago police officials asserted that Smollett set up a hate crime hoax because he was “dissatisfied” with his [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police: Jussie Smollett Staged Attack Because He Was 'Dissatisfied With His Salary'

    In a scathing rebuke, Chicago Police officials asserted Thursday that actor Jussie Smollett set up a hate crime hoax on Jan. 29 because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox series “Empire.” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson presided over a press conference Thursday morning after Smollett turned himself in to police to face [...]

  • NBC News Retools 'Today' Mobile App,

    NBC News Retools 'Today' Mobile App, Readies 7 New Digital Series

    NBC News will continue its efforts to augment its flagship “Today” with digital-video series and other mobile extensions, the latest signal that TV’s morning-news wars are also being waged online. NBC News Digital is set to add seven new digital-video series featuring “Today” hosts and contributors to a larger roster of online programming built around [...]

  • Ubisoft Developing Live-Action 'Skull & Bones'

    Ubisoft Developing Live-Action 'Skull & Bones' TV Show

    Video game publisher Ubisoft is teaming up with Atlas Entertainment (“Dirty John,” “12 Monkeys”) to develop a live-action pirate drama series based on its upcoming action title “Skull & Bones,” it announced on this week. “Skull & Bones” is expected to launch on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One sometime in 2019-2020. The game takes [...]

  • Speaker of the United States House

    Nancy Pelosi, Ava DuVernay Honored at VH1 Trailblazers Event

    Cher is feeling a little better about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. “When I see Trump spew his hate and tell his gazillion lies, I get pissed off and feel uneasy at the same time,” the Oscar winner and frequent Trump critic said on Wednesday while introducing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at “VH1 [...]

  • Wendy Williams

    Wendy Williams Sets March 4 Return to Syndicated Talk Show

    After a six-week leave with health issues, Wendy Williams is set to return to her syndicated daytime talk show on March 4. Williams has been on leave from “The Wendy Williams Show” since Jan. 18 to deal with health issues including a fractured shoulders and complications from Graves disease, an immune system disorder which the [...]

  • Kelly Abcarian - Nielsen

    Nielsen Forms Addressable TV Ad Group After Buying Sorenson Media's Assets for $11.25 Million

    Nielsen thinks it has the pieces in place to finally drive up the scale of addressable TV advertising, targeted based on a television household’s profile the way internet ads have been served for years. The media-measurement firm has formed Nielsen Advanced Video Advertising, a new group focusing on developing addressable advertising initially for internet-connected smart [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content