Tuesday, January 7, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: As 'Chicago PD' Begins Its Patrol, Dick Wolf Explains Why His 'Law' Now Brings Order to the Windy City

Dick Wolf now orders his law - and fire - in Chicago (Deadline.com) 
In an earlier television age, we were told there were eight million stories in the naked city. And it feels like Dick Wolf has told most of them over more than two decades as the mastermind behind NBC's storied Law & Order franchise.

"The company (Wolf Productions) at NBC alone is up to around 1,200 episodes," Wolf said in a one-on-one conversation to discuss the debut of his new Chicago P.D. at 10 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 8, 2014) as the companion piece to his hit second-year NBC drama Chicago Fire. "That's on the three Law & Orders (SVU, Criminal Intent and the original) and the other shows that we've done, including the ones that didn't work (Law & Order: LA and Trial by Jury, for example).

"You learn an awful lot having read that many scripts, and I do have sort of stringent rules that apply to all shows," Wolf says. "Like, out of a 22-episode order [writers] can do one show with unpronounceable foreign names. Knock yourselves out, whether its Serbian dancers or Colombian hit men. When people hear names that don't sound familiar, there's always a tune-out factor, even if it’s a great story."

One rule that obviously no longer applies is that all Wolf's series have to be set on the East Coast, with a very infrequent stopover in Los Angeles. After so many years of making New York first, a living, tangible character in all his shows, what precipitated his shift to the Second City?

He wasn't necessarily looking for new, greener creative pastures, nor had he overstayed his invitation in the Apple.

"Well, it was very deliberate, because the reality was that Rescue Me, although it was not a broadcast show, very heavily identified with New York," explains Wolf, referencing Denis Leary's complex celebration of NYC firefighters that ended its run on FX in 2011. "It was a show that had achieved a level of critical response, and I thought a network show the next year would not benefit from that comparison, because this [Chicago Fire] was a much more reality-based show. We don't have ghosts, we don't have much angst. It's a very different approach to the psyche of firefighters.

"Chicago is the heart of the country. It represents the values that, no matter what your political bent, made America great. The way I've described it to people, with fondness, is that it's a cleaner, politer New York with slightly heavier people."

Chicago P.D. – or CPD, as Wolf calls it – is an ensemble drama revolving around Jason Beghé (The Next Three Days) who was introduced on Fire as Det. Sgt. Hank Voight, a rogue cop who maneuvers his way into heading up the Chicago Police Department’s elite Intelligence Unit, formed to battle the city's most high-profile crimes. Jon Seda (Larry Crowne), Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill), Patrick John Flueger, LaRoyce Hawkins and Elias Koteas also star.

Jon Seda (L), Jason Beghé star in 'Chicago P.D.' (Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
"CPD is a darker image, but it's exactly what people want certain cops to do," Wolf says. "We're doing a cop show now, and the people who are in charge of it, I'll give you a partial list of credits: Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, all the Law & Orders, NYPD Blue, Brooklyn South. I mean, you're talking about the best cop shows of the past 30 years, the state of the art. It's not just me, it's the entire team that has been doing top-tier stuff for a very long time."

Wolf believes Beghé has the potential to become 2014's first breakout TV star as Hank Voight. "That's always what you're hoping for on a new show," he says. "He was the guest star on the single best episode I think we did of LOLA. And when this storyline emerged on Fire last season for a cop who was essentially dirty, I said, 'Jason Beghé.' Instantaneous. And he has come through. Not only is he a great actor, he's exactly the guy you want No. 1 on the call sheet. He's just an incredibly professional and collaborate presence on the set."

Wolf, whose second crime novel featuring fictional NYPD Detective Jeremy Fisk, The Execution, was published by William Morrow this month (January 2014), says he's learned more from his failed shows than his big hits, but a life spent writing, reading and watching has helped him hone a finely-developed nose for quality.

Well, not a nose, exactly.

"I think one thing that I do have, and this probably isn’t the right quote, but I think my butt is the butt of America," Wolf declares. "And when it starts twitching, something's not right, or it's moving too slow."


  1. Serbs in Serbia and abroad, considered Chicago as the largest Serbian city in the World,according to demographic picture of Chicago! However, regardless that I literally swallowing both of the shows (Chicago Fire and Chicago PD), I'm fried with burning desire to see even one Serbian character as firefighter or a cop, judge, lawyer , doctor or paramedic.
    Since those guys would be a American Serbs, meaning Americans, it would be nice to finally see for a change some Serb, as an American hero, who speaks with pure Chicago accent, even with Americanized name, but Serbian last name ... Or you guys still live in the nineties, in a time of fierce Serbophobia ... For God's sake, I guess you long enough dragged through the mud and crap, our names reputation and honor. If not because of Serbs from Serbia and elsewhere, then at least do it for America Serbs, who were, are and always will be a true American heroes!
    Or, you still ain't got a guts to do something like that!?!
    Respectfully, but truly...a humble, redneck fan of both of your shows...RC Gomer!

    p.s. Almost forgot, all congrats to you and entire casts and crews on a awesomely great job!!!