About Dick Wolf
Experienced at producing TV ads, Wolf doubled in a similar capacity by producing a feature film, "Skateboard" (1978), a minor but amiable teen-oriented flick with some charm to its original premise. Wolf fared less well with "Gas" (1981), which hoped to speak to the recurring fuel shortages of the day but seemed to occupy itself primarily with car crashes. Wolf began making an impact in the world of TV when he joined NBC's "Hill Street Blues" in 1985 during its last few seasons as an executive script consultant. This was also the period in which he gave up 'Richard Wolf' and 'Richard A. Wolf', moving to the more casual 'Dick Wolf' for his producing and screenwriting credits. His return to feature films first saw another promising script idea go bust with "No Man's Land" (1987), but Wolf enjoyed considerably more success with "Masquerade" (1988), a tantalizingly plotted and stylishly executed suspense story in the Hitchcock tradition.
Wolf formed a production company, Wolf Films, and has subsequently worked mostly in TV production. (The most notable exception was his screenplay for 1992's well-intentioned teen drama "School Ties".) At first, he continued in the mystery vein of his most acclaimed feature, creating enjoyable installments of both "Gideon Oliver", starring Louis Gossett Jr, and "Christine Cromwell", toplining Jaclyn Smith, for ABC's weekly mystery movies.
Wolf's biggest success of this period was a genuine phenomenon: "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990- ), an adult crime drama series featuring good acting and mature writing. It, too, relied on some well-established genre conventions as its bipartite structure first showed the piecing together of the case by police and then its litigation in the courts. The series was a surprise winner of the 1997 Best Drama Series Emmy and the series racked up an impressive roster of nominatations and trophies for its regular and guest actors. Even more impressive, the series survived the departures of its original castmembers--including Michael Moriarity, Chris Noth and George Dzunda--and managed to introduce actors as characters that proved equally or more popular, including Benjamin Bratt, Angie Harmon, Jill Hennessy, Jesse L. Martin, Elizabeth Rohm, Dennis Farina and two that long served as the heart and soul of the long-running series: Sam Waterston as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy and Jerry Orbach as Det. Lennie Briscoe (the show also survived the ill-fitting and short lived addition of major name stars such as Paul Sorvino and Dianne Weist).
The success of "Law & Order" and Wolf's dependable track record enabled him to launch a seemingly endless progression of new series--his resume includes such short-lived efforts as the sci-fi cop drama "Mann & Machine" (NBC, 1992), the medical drama "The Human Factor" (CBS, 1992), the criminal/victim P.O.V. crime drama "Crime & Punishment" (NBC, 1993), the spy series "South Beach" (NBC, 1993), the courtroom drama "The Wright Verdicts" (CBS, 1995), "Swift Justice" (UPN, 1996), the gangster series "Feds" (CBS, 1997), the ensemble urban crime adventure "Players" (NBC, 1997), the well-regarded invesitgative journalism drama "Deadline" (NBC, 2000), the youthful political potboiler "D.C." (The WB, 2000), the syndicated reality series documenting real life court room dramas "Arrest & Trial" (2000), another reality series recycling the title "Crime & Punishment" (NBC. 2002-2004) and a remake of the classic cop series "L.A. Dragnet" (ABC, 2002-2003; USA, 2003-2004). The only series to catch on, albeit briefly, was Wolf's "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-1998), about a squad of young police detectives from a Harlem precinct assigned to an elite undercover unit in downtown Manhattan where standard police procedures do not apply.
Where the producer was incredibly successful was in his efforts to turn "Law & Order" into a full-fledged franchise. The first inklings of the broader possibilities came with the highly rated TV movie "Law & Order: Exiled" (NBC, 1998) in which Chris Noth reprised his role as Det. Mike Logan. The network wisely tapped Wolf to create a spin-off series titled "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999 - ) , following the tried-and-true formula but focusing on sex crimes, which hit big with viewers and made stars out of leads Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni and brought on Richard Belzer as Det. Munch, his character from another NBC crime drama, "Homicide: Life on the Streets." Next was the equally well-rated "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001 - ), viewing the justice system from the criminal's point of view, starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Jamey Sheridan and Courtney B. Vance (Noth would return again as Det. Logan, joining Annabella Sciorra as the leads beginning in the 2005 season). The first spin-off effort to flop was "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (NBC, 2005), focusing on the jury system, despite starring Bebe Neuwirth and bringing on original series regular Fred Dalton Thompson. Orbach was originally supposed to bring the Briscoe character over to the new series, but the production was forced to deal with the actor's unexpected death just premiere to the series' launch. Despite the disappointing first season cancellation, Wolf planned to recycle the sets from that show for a new series following assistant district attorneys in New York that will debut most likely in the 2006 season as a more character-driven, youth-oriented show.
|Christine Marburg. Married June 29, 1983; divorced 2005|
|Susan Scranton Wolf. Married Sept. 5, 1970; divorced March 16, 1983|
|Noelle Lippman. Married June 17, 2006|
|Phillips Andover Academy, Andover , Massachusetts|
|University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia , Pennsylvania|
|Began career in advertising business; worked as copywriter and producer for over a dozen nationwide campaigns; helped create such slogans as "You Can't Beat Crest for Fighting Cavities"|
|Produced and wrote screenplay "Skateboard," based on his own original story (credited as Richard A. Wolf)|
|Joined writing team of police drama "Hill Street Blues" (NBC) as an executive script consultant for its last few seasons; earned Emmy and Writer's Guild nominations for the episode "What Are Friends For"|
|Returned to feature films after six years to write and produce "No Man's Land"|
|Formed TV production company Wolf Films|
|Made feature acting debut with minor role in "Masquerade"; also wrote and executive produced|
|Created and executive produced installments of "Christine Cromwell," a recurring series of TV movies within "ABC Saturday Movie" format; also wrote premiere TV movie installment|
|Executive produced four installments (and wrote the first installment) of "Gideon Oliver," a recurring series within "ABC Mystery Movie" time slot|
|Created, executive produced, and wrote police and courtroom drama series "Law & Order" (NBC); success of show has led to creation of additional shows under "Law & Order" franchise; cancelled after 20 years, narrowly missing out on being crowned longest-running TV drama in history|
|Created, executive produced, and wrote premiere episode of short-lived NBC adventure series "Nasty Boys"|
|Executive produced short-lived sci-fi detective series "Mann & Machine" (NBC); also wrote first episode|
|Created (also executive produced and wrote the first episode) short-lived NBC detective drama "Crime and Punishment"|
|Appeared on NBC news magazine special "Today at Night"|
|Created and executive produced Fox police drama "New York Undercover"|
|Wrote (also created and executive produced) UPN series "Swift Justice"|
|Created and executive produced CBS drama series "Feds"|
|Executive produced and created NBC drama "Players"|
|Executive produced highly rated spin-off series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC)|
|Created and executive produced syndicated "Arrest & Trial"|
|Executive produced second spin-off "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"; moved from NBC to USA Network 2007|
|Produced "Law & Order: Crime & Punishment" (NBC), a reality television spin-off of the Law & Order franchise|
|Produced "Twin Towers," the Academy Award-winning Short Documentary about two brothers, one a policeman and the other a fireman, who lost their lives in the line of duty during 9/11|
|Produced short-lived spin-off "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (NBC); cancelled after first season|
|Produced award-winning HBO film "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," adapted from Dee Brown's book of the same name|
|Created and produced short-lived spin-off "Law & Order: Los Angeles" (NBC)|
|Produced NBC drama "Chicago Fire"|
|Inducted into The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Hall of Fame|