EXCLUSIVE: The Law & Order franchise has established its own unique production schedule, which involves the series regularly staying in continuous production after the end of the season to bank a few episodes for the following season. The plan this year was to film three additional episodes for veteran crime drama Law & Order: SVU‘s upcoming 16th season, launching in the fall. But, after finishing two of them, the show has decided to scrap the last one due to exhaustion on the part of the cast, particularly star Mariska Hargitay, with the shelved episode to be shot with the rest of Season 16 when the show returns from hiatus. Season 15 is being hailed as one of the series’ strongest, with Emmy winner Hargitay getting notices for her nuanced acting. But it’s been a grueling season, with a lot of emotional performances that has taken a toll on everyone, especially Hargitay, who is the center and the heart of the show and who also made her directorial debut on SVU this past season. Most drama series do 22 episodes a season at the most, Law & Order: SVU produces 24. “In the last 12 months Mariska appeared in 26 episodes, directed one, produced two benefits that raised millions of dollars for her Joyful Heart Foundation, and is also the full-time mother of three young children,” L&O: SVU creator/executive producer Dick Wolf said. “Even a Super Woman needs a break sometime.
After lengthy negotiations, NBC has closed a deal with producer Dick Wolf for a 16th season of crime drama Law & Order: SVU. Star Mariska Hargitay is expected to return. SVU was conspicuously missing from NBC’s list of early renewals in March. The holdup had to do with a pay cut Wolf had been asked to take in order for the show to come back, something he has been unwilling to do. For a little while, things looked like touch and go, with showrunner Warren Leight exploring other jobs, but he recently re-committed to SVU as a deal with NBC began to look imminent. The renewal restores Wolf’s NBC drama series tally to three for a second consecutive season. His Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. already had been renewed.
A&E Network has given the green light to unscripted series D.O.A. (working title) from Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf and Left/Right Productions. The series follows an elite team of detectives who will re-examine controversial murder cases in which unresolved questions linger long after the verdict. Production begins this spring on eight hour-long episodes. The team includes Chicago homicide detective Michelle Wood, Miami PD detective Joe Schillaci, and retired NYPD detective and supervisor and Kevin “Spider” Gannon. The three will begin their investigation at a reconstructed crime scene and work the case interviewing first-person players and forensic specialists. The question is whether they agree with the original verdict or if the wrong person is behind bars. This marks the latest reality play for Wolf, who has also cracked the reality space with TNT hit Cold Justice, which wrapped its second season last month. The network in February ordered six more episodes to air this summer. Wolf’s Law & Order: SVU, the longest-running drama series currently on TV, is now in its 15th season.
That is one of the most intriguing questions heading into the upfronts this year. Of Dick Wolf‘s five Law & Order series, only one — first spinoff Law & Order: SVU – is still on the air. But its renewal is being complicated by financial issues. Now in its 15th season, Law & Order: SVU is the longest-running drama series currently on TV. As a high-end drama at that age, it is inherently expensive, leading to periodic budget reviews. Last year, SVU, along with Wolf’s then-freshman Chicago Fire, received early pickups. This year, Chicago Fire and freshman spinoff Chicago P.D. were among the shows to get early renewals by NBC last month, but SVU wasn’t. (All three are produced by NBC sibling Universal TV, where Wolf is based.) I hear the holdup has to do with a pay cut Wolf had been asked to take in order for SVU to come back, something he has been unwilling to do.
Both sides have a point. Wolf’s camp could argue that SVU is having one of its strongest seasons in years, with star Mariska Hargitay getting notices for her nuanced performance. Averaging a 2.5 adults 18-49 rating (most current), SVU ranks as the No. 4 NBC scripted drama this season behind The Blacklist (4.3), Chicago Fire (2.9) and Grimm (2.6). Last night, the show matched its best 18-49 Live+Same Day rating (2.1) since the season premiere, up 21% from last week. SVU also is up double digits vs. last season, by 21% in 18-49 and by 17% in total viewers, and has an off-network deal with USA. Plus, I hear Wolf had taken a pay cut on the show once and is reluctant to do it again.
On the other hand, as solid as they are, SVU‘s numbers still are nowhere near the show’s heyday, prompting the network’s request for cost reduction. Ironically, NBC is in position to hold firm in part because of Wolf’s success with the Chicago Fire franchise. With young series like The Blacklist, Grimm, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. (2.4 in 18-49) doing as well or better than SVU, the network is far less dependent on the veteran than it was just a couple of years ago.
The debut season of NBC‘s Chicago PD isn’t just going to see characters crossover with parent series Chicago Fire. It will also feature a Chicago-NY crossover with the network’s crime drama juggernaut Law & Order franchise – and that’s just the beginning, exec producer Dick Wolf teased today at TCA. The new police-focused series debuted earlier this month to OK ratings, focusing on Chicago Fire character Detective Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) and a new cast of cops fighting crime in the Windy City. Overlap with Fire began with episode 1. “[David] Eigenberg was there with Pouch the dog,” Wolf noted, adding that storylines between the two Chicago dramas will arc “over a couple of episodes” with some regularity. PD star Sophia Bush revealed that she’s heading to New York this week to film a scene with Law & Order: SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay. Last fall it was reported that a PD/SVU crossover would air in February after the Sochi Olympics in which the New York unit comes to Chicago in pursuit of an interstate perp. “There is going to be a major crossover at the end of the season, a story that is so big it involves everybody,” Wolf teased.
The planned multi-series crossovers could pave the way for more integration within the Chicago Fire/Chicago PD/SVU TV universe.
On the heels of its strong debut, the Dick Wolf-produced TNT unscripted series Cold Justice has been renewed for a second season to air in early 2014. It is the second TNT reality series to earn a sophomore-season renewal, after Boston’s Finest. The procedural, from Wolf Films and Magical Elves, pulled in 2.9 million viewers total with 942,000 among adults 25-54 in its September premiere, by far the biggest opening for a TNT reality series, with the No. 2, Boston’s Finest, at 1.3 million total viewers. The series, which wraps its first season on October 22, has averaged 2.5 million viewers season to date (most current ratings) to rank as one of basic cable’s Top 5 new unscripted series of Q3 2013. Cold Justice follows female investigators Kelly Siegler, a Texas prosecutor for 21 years who has successfully tried 68 murder cases, and Yolanda McClary, a crime scene investigator, as they dig into cold murder cases. Wolf, Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz and Tom Thayer executive produce.
Dick Wolf Confident Of ‘Chicago Fire’ Renewal, Says Boston Marathon Storyline Would Be Difficult: NBC Press Day
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Chicago Fire creator and exec producer Dick Wolf sounded confident this morning that his freshman firefighter drama would be renewed for a second season, considering that the hour has helped to goose ratings in its Wednesday night time slot 17% this season with adults 18-49. How confident is he? “We even know what the first episode of the third season is,” Wolf admitted at today’s NBC Summer Press Day. “We are definitely looking at the remainder of this season as a jumping-off point for next season.” And in fact, as Deadline has reported extensively, a Chicago Fire spinoff is very much in the works, with the rookie season finale tabbed as the jumping-off point for a series centered in the Chicago Police Department. It too will be from Wolf Films and Universal TV. However, in keeping with his tight-lipped style, Wolf would say only, “We always talk about every possible permutation of what can happen, but we never talk about development.” When asked if it is in fact renewed, might he consider a storyline paying homage to the responders of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing. “Dealing with terrorism is very very tough, that’s all I’m gonna say,” Wolf said, before adding, “The last thing we want to do is exploit a tragedy that is so specific that it would be difficult.”
EXCLUSIVE: NBC‘s Chicago Fire has been on a roll, steadily building from a slow start to hit several series highs in midseason, get its freshman order upped from 22 to 24 episodes and cement a second-season renewal. Now I hear the Dick Wolf-produced firefighter drama may also get a spinoff series. Details are sketchy, but I hear the proposed spinoff is also a Chicago-set procedural about another Public Safety division, the police. I hear the cop drama about the Chicago Police Department is being developed by Chicago Fire creators/executive producers Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, executive producer Matt Olmstead and executive producer Wolf, whose company Wolf Films produces Chicago Fire with Universal TV. Word is that the new show would start off as a planted spinoff with Chicago Fire‘s first season finale directed by Joe Chappelle. It is still being sorted out which Chicago Fire actors may transfer to the spinoff series. Chicago Fire‘s recurring cast includes Chicago PD Detective Antonio Dawson, played by Jon Seda.
While networks usually wait at least two seasons until they use a successful series to launch a spinoff, given the state of NBC, where Chicago Fire is one of few bright spots, the urgency is understandable. Especially when someone of Wolf’s experience spinning off procedural dramas is involved. Wolf is the creator of Law & Order, which successfully spawned two series — Law & Order: SVU and …
Six more names were formally inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences‘ distinguished Hall Of Fame on Monday night in front of a packed audience at the Beverly Hilton. Joining the 140-plus TV legends who are already members were Les Moonves, Ron Howard, Al Michaels, Bob Schieffer, Dick Wolf and, at long last, a posthumous recognition of TV inventor Philo T. Farnsworth. Among those on the selection committee this year were Marcy Carsey, Bonnie Hammer, Rick Rosen, Fred Silverman and Nina Tassler.
Easily the highest honor the Academy can bestow (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Board Of Governors repping the Writers Branch), these new inductees can count on seeing their busts enshrined in front of the Academy’s North Hollywood headquarters, immortalized forever. But last night’s (ironically) non-televised event was a loose and lively affair that had a warm feeling and might be called the TV Acad’s version of the Motion Picture Academy’s Governors Awards. It was a heartfelt shout-out to some of TV’s most accomplished names, and the move to the larger Beverly Hilton International Ballroom this year confirmed its growning importance to the community. Tickets were higher priced and more industryites showed than in recent years. For instance, even though they weren’t there as part of the show, Mark Harmon, James Burrows, Chuck Lorre, Michael Eisner and George Lucas in addition to many others were among the audience members cheering on the new inductees.
Law & Order mastermind Dick Wolf is returning to the courtroom with Injustice, a U.S. version of a British format, which will be written by former Friday Night Lights executive producer David Hudgins.
The project, from Universal TV and studio-based Wolf Films, is described as an intricate legal drama/psychological thriller about a devoted criminal defense attorney with a dark past buried deep in his psyche and heart, who juggles his complicated family situation with his emotionally conflicted feelings about representing heinous criminals.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Dick Wolf made a rare appearance during NBC‘s TCA presentation this morning at the Beverly Hilton to trot out Wolf Films’ first non-Law & Order-branded series in six years, the new firefighter drama Chicago Fire. He assured critics that the show isn’t anything close to his usual procedural but proved too fascinating a subject to resist. “There are very few franchises or areas that give you the opportunity to really explore character,” Wolf, flanked by his cast, said. “It’s not fire of the week. It’s a character study about people who do things that you can’t pay people to do. You can’t pay people to run into burning buildings. So it is a canvas for good writing. And writing that you haven’t seen for a while on network television. It is a big, full broadcast show with multi characters and multi storylines going. And the writers room could be put in a book about screenwriting.” Wolf insisted the show is designed in the same tone as what he called NBC “platinum dramas” from the past like ER, Hill Street Blues — and Law & Order. “It’s hopefully in the tradition of these shows that have become, for better of for worse, iconic,” Wolf added. “These shows are never written down to the audience. It all goes back to the writing. There’s never been a good show with bad writing, and there’s few bad shows with good writing. Quality does out…The secret of success on television is writing. That’s it.”
I’ve learned that NBC has closed a deal to renew Dick Wolf‘s veteran procedural Law & Order: SVU for a 14th season. Additionally, the network has given a series order to the Wolf-produced firefighter drama pilot Chicago Fire. And I also hear the producer has signed a new deal with NBC to stay at his long-time home, where he also is producing a new military competition reality series with Mark Burnett.
Chicago Fire, from Universal Television and Wolf Films, stars House‘s Jesse Spencer and is described as a action-driven drama exploring the complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department. Derek Haas and Michael Brandt wrote the script and are executive producing with Wolf and his executives Danielle Gelber and Peter Jankowski. Eamonn Walker, Taylor Kinney, Monica Raymund, David Eigenberg, Charlie Barnett, Lauren German, Teri Reeves and Merle Dandridge co-star.
Despite its ratings taking a hit this season following the departure of co-star Chris Meloni and with the series being stuck with an anemic lead-in, Law & Order: SVU (2.3/6 in adults 18-49, 7.6 million total viewers in most current season averages) has remained one of NBC’s strongest series, ranking third behind The Voice-boosted Smash and Parenthood among adults 18-49. SVU star …
Law & Order chief Dick Wolf has teamed with reality veteran Mark Burnett for a competition reality series aimed at honoring America’s veterans and active-duty servicemen and women. Tentatively titled Stars Earn Stripes, the series, set at Dick Wolf’s long-time home, NBC, where Burnett has reality hit The Voice, will feature nine stars from different areas of public life (screen, music, sports) who will gather at a top-notch, secret military training facility. Each of them will be paired with a trainer whose job it is to prepare his or her celeb for the rigors of the weekly challenge. These challenges will be adapted from real exercises practiced by all five branches of the armed services, as well as joint ops and Special Forces. From a staged hostage rescue to correctly placing a laser target atop a mountain, these celebs will be tested physically, mentally, and emotionally and, like the audience, emerge in awe of the men and women who do such tasks on behalf of our country every day. “I think this is a unique opportunity to pay a tribute to our troops and first responders, who put their lives on the line everyday,” Wolf said. “Mark and I will be able to bring a show to America that works on a multitude of levels.”
This marks a return to the unscripted arena for Wolf who also executive produced the docu-series …
EXCLUSIVE: The Vampire Diaries alum Taylor Kinney has landed a lead role in the NBC firefighter drama pilot Chicago Fire, from Wolf Films and Universal TV. In the action-driven drama about the complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department, Kinney will play adrenaline-junkie Squad Lieutenant Kelly Severide, the leader of the elite firefighters who respond to the most dangerous fires or rescue operations. Kinney, who is getting a lot of media attention at the moment for dating pop star Lady Gaga, joins recently cast Eamonn Walker, who plays the captain of the squad. Michael Brandt and Derek Haas wrote the pilot, which is being directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Dick Wolf, Brandt, Haas, Peter Jankowski and Danielle Gelber executive produce. This marks Kinney’s return to NBC and Universal TV after co-starring in the 2009 medical drama series Trauma. He is with Gersh and Principal Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Dick Wolf’s Universal TV-based production company is having an active development season under new scripted development executive Danielle Gelber. Last month, NBC bought a firefighter drama from feature writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. Now I’ve learned that Wolf Films has set up two more hourlong projects at NBC — one from The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken and one from former Smallville executive producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer — that put a twist on two classic franchises, medical and cop dramas. In addition to the writers, each show is executive produced by Wolf, Wolf Films president Peter Jankowski and Gelber. The untitled Chaiken project centers on a lesbian couple who are doctors at an inner-city Philadelphia hospital. The Slavkin/Swimmer project is a high-tech character-driven procedural about investigators who go into the memory banks of murder victims in order to solve the crimes.
The Casting Society of America unveiled nominations for its 27th annual Artois Awards, recognizing the best in casting. The honors will be bestowed Sept. 26 in simultaneous ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton in L.A. and at District 36 in New York. The CSA also is giving lifetime achievement awards to Whoopi Goldberg (the New York Apple Award), Dick Wolf (the Career Achievement Award) and Meg Liberman (the Hoyt Bowers Award). Here’s the full list of nominees:
Former Showtime executive Danielle Gelber has joined Dick Wolf’s Universal Media Studios-based Wolf Films as an executive producer and EVP. She will work closely with Wolf and Wolf Films president Peter Jankowski on all scripted development for the company. Gelber replaces Nena Rodrigue, who oversaw Wolf Films’ development for the past eight years. There had been a lot of speculation about Gelber’s next gig following her departure from Showtime at the end of last year, with her name mentioned for several network and studio positions over the past few months. Gelber’s new job at Wolf Films reunites her with NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, who oversees UMS. Gelber had worked under Greenblatt at both Showtime and Fox.
Wolf said that he has been “a huge fan” of Gelber “since she, Bob, and I worked together on New York Undercover on Fox in the mid 1990’s.” “I look forward to her taste, intelligence and knowledge of the writing community energizing our development,” he said. Added Greenblatt, “Having worked closely with her for years at both FBC and Showtime, I don’t have higher esteem for many television executives in this business.”
It’s one and out for NBC’s latest Law & Order spinoff. I hear the network just canceled Law & Order: Los Angeles. It is hard to imagine what more NBC could do with the series. After a slow start, the network put the series on hiatus. Dick Wolf did a complete overhaul, bumping up Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard, letting go of several cast members, including Skeet Ulrich, and bringing in Law & Order veteran Alana De La Garza. But after a wide marketing campaign, the crime drama relaunched to ratings that were lower than the unimpressive numbers for its original run. LOLA did get a second chance at a complete reboot, something very few shows get. Its demise underscores the fact that, while dreaded and sometimes outrageously expensive, TV pilots serve a purpose. LOLA was hastily picked up straight-to-series as NBC canceled the mothership Law & Order series last May. The show tried to make amends midstream, but that is hard to do that after a poor launch.
Dick Wolf has said that, after the creative revamp of Law & Order: Los Angeles, it will more closely resemble the mothership Law & Order series. And now LOLA is doing exactly what L&O famously did – take a big local crime story and do a fictional version of it. An upcoming episode of the spinoff, which is now filming, features a storyline clearly inspired by the recent murder of top Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen. In the episode, entitled Benedict Canyon, a famous Hollywood stylist is murdered in what initially appears a random robbery gone bad. But, while in the case of Chasen the investigation ruled the murder just that – the result of a random robbery – the case on LOLA takes multiple turns and gets more sinister as dark family secrets are revealed.
Meanwhile, eagle-eyed viewers probably noticed that in the new NBC promos for the April 11 return of LOLA, the title of the show is listed as Law & Order: LA. Along with the show, its title is getting a makeover too – it is being shortened from the original Law & Order: Los Angeles.