Veteran television producer Dick Wolf, best known for creating the “Law & Order” franchise, is eyeing a cross-network crossover between his CBS freshman procedural “FBI” or its in-the-works spinoff “FBI: Most Wanted” and one of his NBC shows, such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” or “Chicago P.D.”
The decision whether to go with “FBI” or its spinoff, and which NBC show to partner with “depends on which story wins,” he told Variety at the Monte Carlo TV Festival on Saturday.
Wolf said the cross-network crossover was his idea, and both CBS and NBC are open to it, although it has yet to be confirmed. “CBS and NBC both want to do it – whether they can figure it out is above my pay grade,” he said.
The crossover would be quite natural given the FBI’s real-life collaborations with different law enforcement agencies. Wolf gave one example. “SVU deals with the FBI a lot because there is a group inside the FBI which is called Innocent Images, which is child pornography and obviously very much on the same page.”
Wolf also spoke about his decision to create the first-ever Arab American Muslim character as a hero of a network show: Special Agent Omar Adom ‘O.A.’ Zidan in “FBI.” Originally the character was written as being Hispanic. Wolf’s decision to change the ethnicity was purely down to the strong impression Egyptian-American actor Zeeko Zaki, who plays O.A., made on him during the casting of the show.
“Zeeko walked in and I thought ‘Oh sh*t… a six foot five Egyptian is a pretty interesting character to have in an FBI show,” Wolf said. The strength of Zaki’s acting abilities were “remarkable” given his relative lack of experience, Wolf added.
He said his series had been embracing diversity for decades. “We never get hassled by networks or pressure groups to say, ‘Oh, your shows don’t have enough ethnic diversity.’ We’ve been doing this for a long time in the shows,” he said.
“If you think of ‘Law & Order’ in the original there were always [African Americans] in it, whether it was Richard Brooks or S. Epatha [Merkerson]; there were always women… I embrace it. The more you can diversify the better shot you’ve got at getting people who aren’t normally in the tent into the tent.”
The deal between Wolf Entertainment and NBCUniversal’s Universal Television ends next year, but it looks likely Wolf will remain with the studio. “I don’t anticipate leaving,” he said, adding the pact is likely to be rolled over “in some way.”
“There are multiple issues that I’m sure everybody is very anxious to get resolved,” he said. “It’s a negotiation. But I have no plans on leaving. I’ve been in the same office with the same phone number, this month, for 34 years.”
Pictured: “FBI” creator Dick Wolf (center) and the show’s lead actors Jeremy Sisto, Ebonee Noel, Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki attended the Monte Carlo Television Festival on Saturday.