Dick Wolf

Show Creator / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Dick Wolf talks about his parents, who worked at NBC publicity in the 1950's, and the fact that, as a child, he was often in the Peanut Gallery of The Howdy Doody Show. Wolf also speaks extensively about his early career in advertising and his original ad campaigns and slogans. He then chronicles his transition into writing, starting with a feature film and then progressing into writing and producing the NBC series Hill Street Blues. Wolf speaks at length about working on Hill Street Blues; about writing in general; about Grant Tinker and the production company MTM Enterprises as well as his MTM colleagues Steven Bochco, Tom Fontana and David Milch. He also details his rationale for segueing into writing and producing Miami Vice. Michael Rosen conducted the interview (in two sessions) at his Universal Studios-based office in Los Angeles, CA on March 25 and April 21, 2003.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"This is a business of very strange left turns and incredible timing. The difference between total success and total failure in Hollywood is a knife's edge."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Dick Wolf on being in the "Peanut Gallery" of The Howdy Doody Show when he was a child
03:31
Dick Wolf on the legacy of Hill Street Blues, and on what he learned from working on the show
01:32
Dick Wolf on basing Law & Order scripts on real-life events
04:38
Dick Wolf on James Gandolfini's contract negotiations with the producers of The Sopranos
03:24
Dick Wolf on the controversial Law & Order episode "Life Choice" and on other controversies during the show's run
05:06
Dick Wolf on the feedback he's gotten from law enforcement for his shows like Law & Order
02:34
Full Interview

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Chapter 1

On his early years; on being in the "Peanut Gallery" of The Howdy Doody Show when he was a child;
On his early career in advertising; on the basic duties of a copy writer, and on various campaigns he worked for
On the then-future of advertising on television; on his decision to leave advertising; on writing and producing the feature film "Skateboard"

Chapter 2

On being hired as a staff writer for Hill Street Blues; on describing Hill Street Blues and why the networks renew or cancel shows; on the production schedule of Hill Street Blues
On what made Hill Street Blues a success; on how the writers room at Hill Street Blues worked; on the cast of Hill Street Blues
On casting Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and on dealing with actors leaving the shows; on dealing with Standards and Practices on Hill Street Blues and his other shows; on the legacy of Hill Street Blues, and on what he learned from working on the show

Chapter 3

On how he came to produce Miami Vice; on James Gandolfini's contract negotiations with the producers of The Sopranos; on the popularity of Miami Vice starring Don Johnson
On his duties as executive producer of Miami Vice; on favorite Miami Vice episodes he worked on, including episodes featuring Julia Roberts and James Brown; on leaving Miami Vice to work on Gideon Oliver
On producing Christine Cromwell; on his process of creating a show

Chapter 4

On now Law & Order came about with development by Brandon Tartikoff; on the pilot process
on how Law & Order changed from it's initial pitch to when it aired; on the bi-coastal production of Law & Order

Chapter 5

On the pilot for Law & Order; on casting Law & Order; on basing Law & Order scripts on real-life events
On the controversial Law & Order episode "Life Choice" and on other controversies during the show's run; on how 9/11 impacted Law & Order; on trademark elements of Law & Order including the theme song by Mike Post
On the pacing on Law & Order and audience attention spans; on crossover episodes between Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order; on the dialogue of Law & Order

Chapter 6

On the role of a producer; on producing Mann & Machine and The Human Factor; on producing Crime & Punishment; on producing New York Undercover  and the salary dispute he had with actors
On negotiating with actors over their salaries; on producing Swift Justice, Feds, and  Players; on the cost of shooting in New York as opposed to Los Angeles
On creating and producing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; on the popularity of procedural shows like Law & Order; on the feedback he's gotten from law enforcement for his shows like Law & Order

Chapter 7

On the Oscar winning documentary "Twin Towers"; on producing Deadline with Oliver Platt; on producing Arrest and Trial, and Crime and Punishment
On how the legal profession has reacted to his series like Law & Order; on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and its parallels to Sherlock Holmes; on producing the 2003-2004 series Dragnet and on balancing multiple series
On then-current and then upcoming projects; on his mentors in the industry; on his proudest career and life achievements
On b-roll memorabilia from his career- pilot script for Law & Order;
Shows

Arrest and Trial

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Dick Wolf on producing Arrest and Trial, his first syndicated show
02:16

Christine Cromwell

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Dick Wolf on producing Christine Cromwell
03:02

Crime & Punishment

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Dick Wolf on producing Crime & Punishment
01:50
Dick Wolf on producing his second Crime and Punishment series
02:12

Deadline

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Dick Wolf on producing Deadline with Oliver Platt
01:01

Dragnet

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Dick Wolf on producing the 2003-2004 series Dragnet
03:30

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Dick Wolf on the many Emmy nominations and awards his shows have gotten
01:35

Feds

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Dick Wolf on Feds, which was the first series filmed in letterbox
01:35

Gideon Oliver

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Dick Wolf on leaving Miami Vice to work on Gideon Oliver
05:08

Hill Street Blues

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Dick Wolf on being hired as a staff writer for Hill Street Blues
02:10
Dick Wolf on describing Hill Street Blues and why the networks renew or cancel shows
08:43
Dick Wolf on the production schedule of Hill Street Blues
03:19
Dick Wolf on what made Hill Street Blues a success
00:42
Dick Wolf on how the writers room at Hill Street Blues worked
02:05
Dick Wolf on working with Daniel J. Travanti as "Frank Furillo" on Hill Street Blues
01:04
Dick Wolf on working with Veronica Hamel as "Joyce Davenport" on Hill Street Blues
02:02
Dick Wolf on the importance of casting on a show like Hill Street Blues
01:46
Dick Wolf on dealing with Standards and Practices on Hill Street Blues and his other shows
01:28
Dick Wolf on the legacy of Hill Street Blues, and on what he learned from working on the show
01:32

Homicide: Life on the Street

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Dick Wolf on crossover episodes between Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order
03:14
Dick Wolf on crossover episodes between Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order
03:14

Howdy Doody

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Dick Wolf on being in the "Peanut Gallery" of The Howdy Doody Show when he was a child
03:31

Human Factor, The

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Dick Wolf on producing The Human Factor
00:49

Law & Order

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Dick Wolf on casting Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and on dealing with actors leaving the shows
04:20
Dick Wolf on how Law & Order came about with development by Brandon Tartikoff
10:15
Dick Wolf on how Law & Order changed from it's initial pitch to when it aired
04:14
Dick Wolf on the bi-coastal production of Law & Order
07:04
Dick Wolf on the pilot for Law & Order directed by John Patterson
04:33
Dick Wolf on casting Law & Order
03:51
Dick Wolf on basing Law & Order scripts on real-life events
04:38
Dick Wolf on the controversial Law & Order episode "Life Choice" and on other controversies during the show's run
05:06
Dick Wolf on how 9/11 impacted Law & Order
01:10
Dick Wolf on trademark elements of Law & Order including the theme song by Mike Post
01:57
Dick Wolf on the pacing on Law & Order and audience attention spans
01:49
Dick Wolf on the dialogue of Law & Order
Dick Wolf on the popularity of procedural shows like Law & Order
00:42
Dick Wolf on the feedback he's gotten from law enforcement for his shows like Law & Order
02:34
Dick Wolf on how the legal profession has reacted to his series like Law & Order
01:02

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

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Dick Wolf on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and its parallels to Sherlock Holmes
02:12

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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Dick Wolf on casting Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and on dealing with actors leaving the shows
04:20
Dick Wolf on creating and producing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
03:25
Dick Wolf on doing research for shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
01:25

Mann & Machine

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Dick Wolf on creating Mann & Machine
02:23

Miami Vice

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Dick Wolf on how he came to produce Miami Vice
05:16
Dick Wolf on the popularity of Miami Vice starring Don Johnson
05:02
Dick Wolf on his duties as executive producer of Miami Vice
02:02
Dick Wolf on favorite Miami Vice episodes he worked on, including episodes featuring Julia Roberts and James Brown
02:02
Dick Wolf on leaving Miami Vice to work on Gideon Oliver
05:08

New York Undercover

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Dick Wolf on producing New York Undercover  and the salary dispute he had with actors
04:20

Players

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Dick Wolf on producing Players
01:02

Sopranos, The

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Dick Wolf on James Gandolfini's contract negotiations with the producers of The Sopranos
03:24

Swift Justice

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Dick Wolf on producing Swift Justice
00:40
Topics

9/11

View Topic
Dick Wolf on how 9/11 impacted Law & Order
01:10
Dick Wolf on the feature documentary Twin Towers
01:20

Advertising and Sponsorship

View Topic
Dick Wolf on the then-future of advertising on television
03:41

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Dick Wolf on dealing with Standards and Practices on Hill Street Blues and his other shows
05:48

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Dick Wolf on his mentors in the industry
01:10

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Dick Wolf on the many Emmy nominations and awards his shows have gotten
01:35

George W. Bush

View Topic
Dick Wolf on being a classmate of George W. Bush at Andover
00:43

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Dick Wolf on how 9/11 impacted Law & Order
01:10
Dick Wolf on the feature documentary Twin Towers
01:20

Industry Crossroads

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Dick Wolf on the cost of shooting in New York as opposed to Los Angeles
00:43

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Dick Wolf on his mentors in the industry
01:10

Pop Culture

View Topic
Dick Wolf on trademark elements of Law & Order including the theme song by Mike Post
01:57

Runaway Production

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Dick Wolf on the cost of shooting in New York as opposed to Los Angeles
00:43

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
Dick Wolf on trademark elements of Law & Order including the theme song by Mike Post
01:57

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Dick Wolf on Feds, which was the first series filmed in letterbox
01:35

Television Industry

View Topic
Dick Wolf on the then-future of advertising on television
03:41
Dick Wolf on dealing with Standards and Practices on Hill Street Blues and his other shows
05:48
Dick Wolf on James Gandolfini's contract negotiations with the producers of The Sopranos
03:24
Dick Wolf on the bi-coastal production of Law & Order
07:04
Dick Wolf on the cost of shooting in New York as opposed to Los Angeles
00:43

Television and the Presidency

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Dick Wolf on being a classmate of George W. Bush at Andover
00:43
Professions

Producers

View Profession
Dick Wolf on the role of a producer
05:15
Dick Wolf on negotiating with actors over their salaries, and on casting actors in multiple series across roles
02:39

Show Creators

View Profession
Dick Wolf on his process of creating a show
03:08
Dick Wolf on the pilot process
07:08
Dick Wolf on negotiating with actors over their salaries, and on casting actors in multiple series across roles
02:39
Dick Wolf on how he is able to balance multiple series' on the air at the same time
01:54
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Dick Wolf on writing for Hill Street Blues
29:11
Dick Wolf on producing Miami Vice
22:54
Dick Wolf on producing Christine Cromwell
03:02
Dick Wolf on the creation and production of Law & Order
28:41
Dick Wolf on creating and producing Law & Order
29:06
Dick Wolf on the appeal of police and medical dramas
00:43
Dick Wolf on producing Crime & Punishment
01:50
Dick Wolf on producing New York Undercover  and the salary dispute he had with actors
04:20
Dick Wolf on creating and producing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
04:50
Dick Wolf on producing Arrest and Trial, his first syndicated show
02:16
Dick Wolf on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and its parallels to Sherlock Holmes
02:11
Dick Wolf on producing the 2003-2004 series Dragnet
03:31

Drama Series

View Genre
Dick Wolf on producing Deadline with Oliver Platt
01:01

Legal Dramas

View Genre
Dick Wolf on producing Swift Justice
00:40
Dick Wolf on how the legal profession has reacted to his series like Law & Order
01:02
Dick Wolf on producing Arrest and Trial, his first syndicated show
02:16

Medical Dramas

View Genre
Dick Wolf on producing The Human Factor
01:09

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Dick Wolf on producing Mann and Machine
01:34
People

James Brown

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Dick Wolf on favorite Miami Vice episodes he worked on, including episodes featuring Julia Roberts and James Brown
02:02

Vincent D'Onofrio

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Dick Wolf on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and its parallels to Sherlock Holmes
02:11

James Gandolfini

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Dick Wolf on James Gandolfini's contract negotiations with the producers of The Sopranos
03:24

Louis Gossett, Jr.

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Dick Wolf on leaving Miami Vice to work on Gideon Oliver starring Louis Gossett, Jr.
05:08

Veronica Hamel

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Dick Wolf on working with Veronica Hamel as "Joyce Davenport" on Hill Street Blues
02:02

Don Johnson

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Dick Wolf on the popularity of Miami Vice starring Don Johnson
05:02

Mike Post

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Dick Wolf on trademark elements of Law & Order including the theme song by Mike Post
01:57

Julia Roberts

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Dick Wolf on favorite Miami Vice episodes he worked on, including episodes featuring Julia Roberts and James Brown
02:02

Eriq La Salle

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Dick Wolf on producing The Human Factor
01:09

Brandon Tartikoff

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Dick Wolf on now Law & Order came about with development by Brandon Tartikoff
10:15

Daniel J. Travanti

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Dick Wolf on working with Daniel J. Travanti as "Frank Furillo" on Hill Street Blues
01:04

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