Kingpin of series TV shifts the scene to Chicago

  • By Frazier Moore Associated Press
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:08pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Hours before last week’s premiere of his new series, “Chicago P.D.,” Dick Wolf acknowledged he was nervous.

Actually, “terrified” was the word he used.

This from a TV impresario whose credits include the hydra-headed “Law &Order” franchise and whose shows have been a prime-time mainstay every season for a quarter-century, a feat likely unmatched by any other producer.

Wolf’s “Law &Order: Special Victims Unit” is in its 15th season, airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

“Cold Justice,” a reality series where a former prosecutor and a former crime-scene investigator bring fresh eyes to moribund cases airs on TNT for its second season on Fridays at 8 p.m.

“Chicago Fire,” an action drama about big-city firefighters, is midway through its second robust season on NBC, airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

And now on NBC at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays is “Chicago P.D.,” a “Fire” spinoff that could spark a new franchise for Wolf: a “Chicago”-branded portfolio.

Why not? The morning after it premiered, Wolf would learn that a solid 8.6 million viewers had tuned in.

Centered on the Chicago Police Department’s scrappy Intelligence Unit, the series pits Detective Sgt. Hank Voight and his team against the worst killers, drug traffickers and mobsters the Windy City can deliver.

A righteous cop who plays dirty when he needs to, Voight is in good hands with series star Jason Beghe in a portrayal that began on last season’s “Chicago Fire.”

Invoking Detective Sipowicz from “NYPD Blue,” Wolf hailed Beghe as “the most interesting cop since Dennis Franz.”

At 67, Wolf is a veteran producer whose resume reaches back to “Miami Vice” in the mid-1980s, and who, through much of the past two decades, kept the lights on at NBC when it had little else anybody would watch.

Wolf described “Chicago P.D.” as “a big, old-time television top-drawer series production. Is it retro? Not to me. I just think it’s a really good cop show.”

Wolf is also marking the publication of his latest novel.

“The Execution” brings back NYPD Detective Jeremy Fisk, whom Wolf introduced in his first novel, “The Intercept.” Now Fisk’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is back on high alert as an elusive assassin heads to Manhattan for United Nations Week, when the world’s most powerful leaders will be gathered — and vulnerable.

But how did Wolf, with his TV empire to tend, find time to be an author?

“I’ve got small kids,” he replied with a laugh. “I have a very pleasant existence in Montecito (Calif.).

“I’m on a school schedule now, home in the morning 90 percent of the time. So writing became a routine.”

What he called “my quiet hope” is that these thrillers and their hero might inspire an annual Jeremy Fisk miniseries.

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