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 at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC.
“Cold Justice,” a reality series where a former prosecutor and a former crime-scene investigator bring fresh eyes to moribund cases, returns on TNT for its second season at 8 p.m. Friday. (This debut episode revisits the 2001 disappearance of an Altus, Okla., woman whose ex-husband, long a suspect, was arrested only last month with help from the show, then led officials to the woman’s buried remains.)
“Chicago Fire,” an action drama about big-city firefighters, is midway through its second robust season on NBC, airing at 10 p.m. Tuesdays.
And now on NBC at 10 p.m. 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.
But during an interview last Wednesday, there was more on Wolf’s mind than his new show. He was 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.
“There are stories that are just too big for a series episode or even an arc,” said Wolf when asked what prompted his literary ventures.
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 before sharing iPhone photos of his 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. “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.
But weekly, scripted drama remains Wolf’s forte. He considers himself a businessman, generating inventory with a lucrative afterlife as cable repeats.
“The stakes are so huge for the next decade!” he said, picturing the same happy prospect for his “Chicago” shows.
Meanwhile, he’s thinking internationally. He produces a “Law & Order” edition for the United Kingdom, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in France and Russian versions of “CI” and “SVU,” among other global iterations.
“I’d really like that to happen with ‘Fire’ and ‘P.D.,’ ” he said. “Every big city on the planet has a police department and a fire department. How about ‘Paris Fire’?”
And all the better if, back home, this domestic duo spawns a third “Chicago” series. How about “Chicago Justice”?
“From your lips to Mr. Nielsen’s ears,” Wolf replied. “But there’s no possibility of that happening unless ‘P.D.’ succeeds. So believe me when I say that our entire focus is getting this one to work.”