Thirty years into his tenure at Universal Television, Dick Wolf continues to be the studio’s top drama producer. And now Wolf, who accomplished the rare feat of creating two hugely successful drama franchises — Law & Order and Chicago — is extending his stay with a new blockbuster deal. The five-year pact with NBCUniversal, which will keep Wolf at the company through 2020, came after months of negotiations, which is understandable given Wolf’s stature of an uber producer with four drama series on NBC — three installments of the Chicago franchise, with a possible fourth on the way, and Law & Order: SVU — an upcoming Law & Order reality spinoff on the network, Law & Order: You The Jury, as well as a slew of unscripted cable series.
As part of the new deal, veteran Law & Order: SVU has been renewed for an 18th season. The indications are that star Mariska Hargitay would continue on the show where she has been since the start. Additionally, picked up for a second season is the latest addition to the Chicago franchise, Chicago Med. They join Chicago Fire and Chicago PD, which were given early renewals in November.
“Dick Wolf is without a doubt one of the greatest producers in the history of dramatic television,” said NBC Entertainment Robert Greenblatt, indicating that Wolf may stay at the company well beyond 2020. “The Law & Order’ legacy would have been enough to set him apart from all the rest, but the Chicago franchise now kicks him into the stratosphere. He has been a defining voice of NBC for over a generation, and he is most welcome at this company forever.”
Wolf already is believed to have one of the biggest if not the biggest profit participation in television. The new deal is said to be in line with his previous mega pacts, keeping or enhancing Wolf’s significant backend and securing NBC pilot commitments for each year of the term. Law & Order and Chicago creator Wolf currently has spinoff Chicago Law (working title), which will be introduced on Chicago PD this season with an eye toward a debut next season. And while negotiating Wolf’s deal took awhile, he never considered leaving his long-time home.
“I’ve been in the same office, with the same phone number, for 30 years. I’m glad people won’t have to learn a new one,” Wolf said. “Staying was really a foregone conclusion. My partnership with Bob has been the best relationship I’ve ever had with the head of a network. He has also assembled a great team of executives at both the network and the studio who make it possible for the Wolf Entertainment team to turn out multiple shows. It is truly a synergistic group effort that makes me enormously excited about both the present and the future.”
Wolf’s core team at Wolf Films — now Wolf Entertainment — include his longtime lieutenants Peter Jankowski, president and COO, and Arthur Forney, head of post-production and co-executive producer/director on all Wolf series, as well as Danielle Gelber, who heads scripted development.
“I’m personally thrilled to be working so closely with Dick, and on behalf of everyone at NBC and Universal Television we are so happy to extend our relationship with all the incredibly talented people at Wolf Entertainment,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “His brand is pure quality, and our continuing partnership is not only great for us but even better for broadcast television.”
So far this season, Law & Order: SVU originals have averaged a 2.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 10.0 million viewers overall in L+7. The veteran has built on its regular lead-in by an average of +45% in adult 18-49 rating (L+SD).
Chicago Med, originally slated for a midseason debut, launched successfully despite being rushed on the air to replace another series, Heartbreaker. The medical Chicago drama’s originals are averaging a 2.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.3 million viewers overall in L+7. In the Tuesday 9-10 PM ET slot, Chicago Med has topped regular competition on the Big 4 networks with five of six telecasts to date in adults 18-49.
Outside of NBC, Wolf Films has built a slate of unscripted/documentary series, including the successful Cold Justice franchise on TNT, Nightwatch and Dead Again for A&E.
Wolf was repped by his attorney Cliff Gilbert-Lurie and Rick Rosen at WME.