When Dick Wolf kicked off the world of “One Chicago” on NBC in 2012 with “Chicago Fire” – a spin-off from the “Law & Order” universe – it was a bit of a kids’ club.
Derek Haas, Matt Olmstead and Michael Brandt conducted “Fire” as showrunner; less than two years later, “Chicago PD” debuted with Olmstead at the head. In 2015 came the third leg of the franchise with “Chicago Med” under Andrew Dettmann, Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov. Dettmann came out after the first season and Schneider and Frolov, a married couple, have driven it ever since.
Now, women are at the helm of all three shows.
For many years, Frolov was the franchise’s first female showrunner. Even though they had never met Wolf before, when they first sat together, they launched a pilot idea and he set up a meeting with the network.
“The next day, we got a call from our agent, which we thought was about the pilot,” he says. “Instead, our agent told us that Dick would like us to go run ‘Chicago Med.’ It’s been seven years “.
He didn’t know that by 2022 all three “Chicago” series would have a woman in first place, but all three have very different experiences of how they got there.
Writer Gwen Sigan started off with the “old school ladder climbing” method at Wolf Entertainment, starting as Olmstead’s assistant when he directed both “PD” and “Fire”.
“He’s one of my favorite writers to date, and he’s also kind and he’s been a great mentor – he gave me the staff of ‘PD’ and he gave me nothing but opportunities. And I’ve been here ever since, “says Sigan, who took on the role of Rick Eid’s showrunner at the start of Police Procedural Season 9 in 2021.” I’ve never missed how insane it is to work with so many people who are so good. . Between Matt and Rick alone, I think I’ve gotten to write with the best of the best, but I could also list a dozen other writers from previous staff and our current staff who are wonderful to write with.
“I think Dick Wolf attracts writers who want to write a lot and do it in the best possible way,” he adds. “Being able to write so much, with these people, is definitely the best part of the job and the reason I’ve been here for so long.”
Andrea Newman has also been part of the family for years, but did not enter the leadership role until season 10 in 2021, becoming co-showrunner with Haas as he shifted focus to another spinoff, “FBI: International”.
Her start with the Wolf Entertainment team was like many others: she was a spectator.
“When I moved to Los Angeles, one of my first encounters was with Dick. I’m still shocked that I managed to say a word at that meeting, because I’ve always been a huge fan – “Law & Order” was one of the shows that inspired me to move from plays to TV, the story was so masterful and the characters so compelling, ”he says Variety.
The duo met for another project that never really got off the ground. So when she received the script for the Chicago Fire pilot years later and was “blown away” by the narrative, she jumped at the chance to be a part of it.
“These characters jumped off the page, plus there was soap, which to me is catnip,” says Newman. “I was lucky enough to meet Derek and Michael Brandt and I ended up on the show that first season.”
Over the years, his working relationship with Haas, who co-created “Fire”, has only gotten stronger. In fact, Haas jokes that she’s been co-showrunning for years, just got official on paper this year.
“The bad part of working with Derek is that he makes it seem easy to write,” he says. “He loves doing it and doesn’t seem to have any toll on him, which makes the rest of us want to kill him.”
Haas can’t help but get excited about his counterpart: “Andrea Newman is the most talented writer I’ve been lucky enough to work with in Hollywood. She is like an athlete with five instruments: she effortlessly writes hilarious comedies and then heartfelt dramas, sometimes within the same scene. Plus, she’s brilliant and cares deeply about the show. “
Many years before “One Chicago” was even a thought in Wolf’s mind, he had focused on a different franchise: “Law & Order”. This is where Julie Martin came in.
The couple met in the 1980s when he was working on “Hill Street Blues”, and she was working hard on “St. Elsewhere.” She went on to join “Homicide: Life on the Street” and collaborated with Wolf in 1995 when there was a crossover episode with “Law & Order”. She accepted her official job in her “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” program in 2006.
“It always felt like a family organization to me,” says Martin Variety. After two years on “Criminal Intent”, she went on to work on the mother ship “Law & Order” and short-lived “Law & Order: LA”. She joined “SVU” in season 13 and has since produced more than 200 episodes of the series led by Mariska Hargitay. Since then, she has learned that working for the Wolf Entertainment team is all about trust.
“I feel appreciated and appreciated and I don’t feel micromanaged,” says Martin. “They are putting our teams in order and are confident that they will do the right thing. It’s incredibly collaborative and supportive and really, mostly hands-free. “
Even if “you don’t want to get the call” from Wolf himself, when it happens it’s because he cares so much about the plot, never because he doesn’t believe in the team he built. Martin laughs: “Dick’s favorite line is: ‘You have this. Don’t screw it up. ‘”
Martin also wrote about “Law & Order” season 20 in 2010 and was as shocked as the rest of the team when NBC pulled the plug, mainly due to its impact.
“There is no other program on the air that takes the real problems of the day, dramatizing them and giving them a twist. The opportunity to tell these kinds of stories simply doesn’t exist in any other medium than ‘Law & Order’, “he says, noting that every now and then he still finds himself ripping stories out of a newspaper and thinking it would be a good plot.
Last year, NBC announced that the mothership would return with part of its original cast. It has already been renewed for season 22.
“I’m so glad he’s back. I am happy for Dick. I’m happy for the audience who will watch it. “