Richard Anthony Wolf
New York City, New York, USA
|Date of Birth||
December 20, 1946
Wolf was born in New York City, the son of Marie G. (née Gaffney), a homemaker, and George Wolf, an advertising executive. His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic of Irish descent.
He was an altar boy and attended Saint David's School, The Gunnery, and the University of Pennsylvania (class of 1969), where he belonged to the Zeta Psi fraternity. He also attended Phillips Academy.
Wolf worked as an advertising copywriter at Benton & Bowles creating commercials for Crest toothpaste, including the slogan "You can't beat Crest for fighting cavities." He is also credited with the campaign "I'm Cheryl, fly me" for National Airlines. Yet despite his success in copywriting, all the while he was writing screenplays in the hopes of a film career. It was at this time that he briefly collaborated on a screenplay with Oliver Stone, who was a struggling screenwriter at the time.
Initial screenwriting success
He moved to Los Angeles after a few years and had three screenplays produced; one of these films, Masquerade (1988) starring Rob Lowe and Meg Tilly, was well received. He started his television career as a staff writer on Hill Street Blues and was nominated for his first Emmy for an episode entitled "What Are Friends For?", on which he was the only writer. While working on Hill Street Blues, Wolf became close friends with Tom Fontana, then writing for the series St. Elsewhere, produced in the same building, at the same time. Wolf moved from Hill Street Blues to Miami Vice, where he was a writer and co-producer for the third and fourth seasons.
Law & Order
Wolf's Law & Order, which ran from 1990 to 2010, tied Gunsmoke for the then-longest-running dramatic show in television history, making it one of television's most successful franchises. It has been nominated for the most consecutive Emmy Awards of any primetime drama series. Wolf serves as creator and executive producer of the current Law & Order drama series from Wolf Films and NBC Universal Television – Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (which as of April 2020 is the longest-running scripted primetime drama, having aired 478 episodes, breaking the original Law & Order count of 456, and beating both the original Law & Order and Gunsmoke in number of seasons). Wolf also was creator and executive producer for the four spinoff shows in the franchise that have been canceled – Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Law & Order: UK, and Law & Order: Los Angeles. Along with Kevin Arkadie, he co-created the police drama New York Undercover, which ran on the Fox Broadcasting Company Network from 1994 to 1998; he also served as executive producer of the series. He was the creator and executive producer of NBC's courtroom reality series Crime & Punishment, which chronicled real-life cases prosecuted by the San Diego District Attorney's office. Many of Wolf's series have intersected with the Law & Order franchise in some fashion, and the Law & Order series have been adapted into several foreign versions. Wolf's company also produced Twin Towers, the 2003 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 on September 11, 2001. Wolf was also involved with the production of a theatrical documentary about the popular rock group The Doors, titled When You're Strange.
Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice
Wolf developed Chicago Fire, a drama about a group of men and women working at the Chicago Fire Department. The series was picked up by NBC in May 2012, and premiered on October 10, 2012, with meek numbers in the ratings and minimal reviews in the first few weeks before spiking to NBC's #2 scripted drama series, under Revolution. In March 2013, NBC announced intentions for a spin-off of Chicago Fire, revolving around the Chicago Police Department. When that series, Chicago P.D., premiered, Derek Haas, Michael W. Brandt, and Matt Olmstead became executive producers, under Wolf. Two subsequent shows, Chicago Med, which premiered in 2015, and Chicago Justice, whose one season began and ended in 2017, followed in Chicago P.D.'s wake.
In 2018, Wolf became executive producer of the CBS drama FBI starring Law and Order cast members Jeremy Sisto and Alana de la Garza who also appeared with her co-star, and Sela Ward, who appeared in the non-Wolf CBS series CSI: NY.
Law & Order: Organized Crime
On March 31, 2020, Wolf announced that the spin-off series has ordered for NBC to launch in the 2020–21 television, with Christopher Meloni reprising his role as Elliot Stabler, who left SVU nine-years earlier. The series will consist of 13 episodes. On June 2, 2020, it was announced that the series would be called Law & Order: Organized Crime and showrunner Craig Gore has been fired.
Law & Order: Hate Crimes
Wolf announced that it had given an order of 13 episodes of the latest installment of the franchise entitled Law & Order: Hate Crimes. However, March 4, 2019, NBC announced that the series would be heading back into redevelopment to flesh out the concept and such introduction on SVU would not take place. On June 5, 2020, the series of Hate Crimes has moved to Peacock due to the language concern.
In 2012 Wolf developed the unscripted show Cold Justice, a documentary drama, for TNT. He also has written three novels whose central character is NYPD Detective Jeremy Fisk: The Intercept, The Execution, and The Ultimatum.
Wolf's personal honors include the Award of Excellence from the Banff Television Festival, the 2002 Creative Achievement Award from NATPE; the Anti-Defamation League's Distinguished Entertainment Industry Award, the Leadership and Inspiration Award from the Entertainment Industries Council, the Governor's Award by the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the 1997 achievement award from the Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors, the 1998 Television Showman of the Year Award from the Publicists Guild of America, the 2002 Tribute from the Museum of Television and Radio, and a 2003 Special Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. On March 29, 2007, Wolf received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7040 Hollywood Boulevard. In 2013 Wolf was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Wolf is also an Honorary Consul general of Monaco and is actively involved in the principality's prestigious annual Television Festival, and as its primary liaison with the entertainment community.
In addition to having been a classmate of former U.S. President George W. Bush, Wolf was an employer of Fred Thompson, who sought the Republican nomination for President in 2008 with help of the national attention he gained playing the district attorney on Law & Order. Wolf supported Thompson in his bid, as did Bush. It was reported that Wolf contributed to Thompson's campaign before he officially announced he was running.
Wolf's future projects for NBC are an American adaption of the United Kingdom psychological legal drama series Injustice as well as a drama series revolving around a satanic cult, tentatively titled The Church. Wolf is writing the latter project with Howard Franklin. Wolf also has an untitled pilot about an insurance investigator on USA Network.
With Wolf pursuing projects other than Law & Order, he and current Law & Order: Special Victims Unit show runner/executive producer Warren Leight sometimes discuss the future of the Law & Order franchise and revitalizing it; Leight commenting "(Dick Wolf and I) sometimes talk in general terms of where (the franchise) could go. I'm curious to see if there's another iteration somewhere down the line."