Friday, July 29, 2005
'Law & Order' creator Wolf mad about ink
By Kevin D. Thompson
Palm Beach Post Television Critic
Thursday, July 28, 2005
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Dick Wolf is arguably the most successful producer in television history.
The last time I checked, about 38 Law & Orders were on the air. OK, there's really only three. I've never been that good at math. The point is, Wolf is a producing machine who can probably afford to buy his own island-nation.
So, why is it that whenever Wolf comes to the TV Tour, he always appears, well, angry?
"I'm not angry," Wolf responds when the question is raised.
Then he goes on the explain why he is angry.
"What makes me angry is the lack of sophisticated business reportage," Wolf says. "I'll send you the clips. If you saw the volume of articles in the fall (about) how badly the (Law & Order) shows have been hurt by CSI: NY and Desperate Housewives, it wasn't good reporting."
Wolf isn't finished. In fact, he's on one of his legendary rolls.
"Yeah, we may get knocked around a little bit, but this is still the most profitable brand in the history of the medium," Wolf boasts. "I mean, these shows generated $1 billion in advertising revenue last year... but I'm not (ticked) off. I'm a very happy guy."
He should be — for a lot of reasons.
The most recent one is that NBC has announced a French version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. (Just how do you say perp in French?) Anyway, it's in pre-production in Paris and scheduled to air in 2006.
"I couldn't be more thrilled," Wolf says. "Many of you, over the years, have heard me talking about this as a dream. It's now become a reality. Because of the French love of mysteries, we are in a situation that could really bear fruit. And I think if it bears fruit in France, it's a pump-primer for the rest of the world."
It's official: World domination is Wolf's ultimate goal.
And just what does Vincent D'Onofrio, who plays the quirky Detective Goren on Criminal Intent, think of the new French version?
"It means that we have a good show and a good formula," he says. "I think it would be great to see it played. I'm sure whatever actor it is, (he's) going to do it differently than I do it. I don' t know if his name is going to be Goren."
Says Wolf: "It doesn't sound very French to me."
Speaking of Goren, NBC announced last year that D'Onofrio, who had some health issues, would appear in only half of the Criminal Intent's 22 episodes while Chris Noth would reprise his hunky Mike Logan character for the other 11.
That unorthodox arrangement works fine with D'Onofrio.
"It means for the first time since the first season, I will actually be able to sit with the script in my lap for 10 days before we shoot it," he says. "As an actor, especially a film actor, that's an incredible thing for me. Secondly, I'll have a life."
That life will include more film work. D'Onofrio says he just finished shooting The Breakup with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. He also recently produced, directed and starred in Five Minutes, Mr. Welles in which he plays the famed Orson Welles.
Mariska Hargitay, the hard-nosed Olivia Benson on Special Victims Unit, silently wishes she could cut such a deal.
"I'm not going to lie — I'm very jealous," she says. "But Vincent really needed it. I don't think he was ever not in a scene."
But getting back to Wolf.
Not surprisingly, he wasn't too pleased when NBC yanked Trial By Jury.
"I was incredibly upset, disappointed, dismayed and any other adjective that you could care to add," he says.
The move, however, was business, not personal. Nobody understands that better than Wolf.
"That the (Law & Order) brand is the most important piece of business to obviously both of us, this is much more like a long-term marriage with no possibility of divorce," he says. "We're stuck together and as in every long-term marriage, there may be hills and valleys."
On the bright side, Wolf points out that a new character-driven show about assistant district attorneys will air on NBC in the next year.
"It's going to be much more of an ensemble than the other shows," he says. "There is going to be more time spent figuring out how (the characters) are driven and what made them who they're becoming."
We all know Dick Wolf is driven. Now, if only he could be a little happier at Press Tour.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
'L&O' creator angry over cancellation
'L&O' creator angry over cancellation
By BILL BRIOUX -- Toronto Sun
BEVERLY HILLS -- Dick Wolf doesn't like getting cancelled.
The Law & Order creator told critics yesterday that he was "incredibly upset, disappointed, dismayed, any other adjectives that you could care to add," when NBC pulled the plug this spring on his third Law & Order spinoff, Law & Order: Trial By Jury.
The courtroom drama, starring Bebe Neuwirth and, briefly, the late, great Jerry Orbach, became the first Law & Order series ever cancelled.
"How could I see it coming?" he responded after the session, rattling off statistics that showed the series pulling solid numbers in the all important 18-to-48-year-old demo just weeks before it was yanked. "How do you cancel a show that does a 6 (ratings share)?"
By giving Wolf another series -- fast. Out of the ashes of Trial By Jury will rise a new Dick Wolf series -- pitched just last Friday -- set in the world of assistant district attorneys. Always resourceful, Wolf said that series will be shot on the still standing Trial By Jury sets. He's looking to cast "five or six of the best looking, most talented actors under 30 in the country," in the new series.
NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly told critics Sunday that "it's highly unlikely" the new series will have Law & Order in the title.
Wolf refused to rule out the possibility.
After all, as Wolf is happy to point out, the three L&O series generated one billion dollars of ad revenue last year for NBC. Would you tell this guy he can't pick titles?
Wolf also announced yesterday plans to conquer the world. He has a deal to produce a localized, French language version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent for France in 2006. "To my knowledge," said Wolf, "there's never been another format sale of a drama to a European broadcaster."
Dubbed versions of the three Law & Order series already run in 180 markets around the world. As Wolf says, "clearly, there is a tremendous appetite for the brand."
While the French legal system is far different from the American model, Wolf says the new series "won't be in conflict with the Napoleonic code." He hopes to eventually expand the brand worldwide in many different languages.
Meanwhile, he is busy shoring up his three remaining L&Os. He has brought in new producers and writers on the 16-year-old original to help reach his stated goal of keeping it on the air longer than Gunsmoke (TV's current record holder for dramas at 20 seasons).
Annie Parisse, the new ADA on L&O, is part of that makeover. She joined Wolf on yesterday's panel along with Mariska Hargitay (L&O:SVU) and Vincent D'Onofrio (L&O:CI).
A beefy D'Onofrio was almost unrecognizable at yesterday's session. The actor may have bulked up to play the title role in Five Minutes, Mr. Welles, an upcoming film about the legendary director.
His split schedule next season (he's sharing the lead in L&O:CI with former L&O star Chris Noth) will allow D'Onofrio to devote more time to films (he just shot The Breakup with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston) and family. D'Onofrio is also jazzed about studying his scripts a full "10 days before we shoot it. As an actor, especially a film actor, that's an incredible thing for me."
Hargitay, nominated for her second-straight Emmy, is pumped about Season 7 on SVU. One storyline has her character thinking about a baby. Is she pregnant in real life? -- she was asked.
"Oh, just read the local rags," she said.