Women Take the Lead at Wolf Entertainment, Showrun “One Chicago”

When Dick Wolf launched the world of One Chicago on NBC in 2012 with Chicago Fire, a spin-off of the Law & Order universe, it was a boy’s club of sorts.

Derek Haas, Matt Olmsted and Michael Brandt hosted Fire as showrunners; less than two years later, Chicago P.D. premiered with Olmsted at the helm. In 2015, the third leg of the franchise took place with the Chicago Med, led by Andrew Dettmann, Andrew Schneider and Diane Frolov. Dettmann left after the first season and has been led by married couple Schneider and Frolov ever since.

Now women are at the helm of all three shows.

For many years, Frolova was the franchise’s first female showrunner. Although they had never met Wolf before, when they first sat down together they came up with a pilot idea and he set up a meeting with the network.

“The next day we got a call from our agent, who we assumed was supposed to be talking about the pilot,” she says. “Instead, our agent told us that Dick would like us to come and run the Chicago Meds. That was seven years ago.”

She had no idea that by 2022, all three Chicago series would have a woman in first place, but all three have very different experiences in how they got there.

Screenwriter Gwen Sigan began with the “old school ladder climbing” method at Wolf Entertainment, beginning as Olmsted’s assistant when he directed both PD and Fire.

“He’s one of my favorite writers to this day, and he’s also kind and a great mentor – he got me into PD and just gave me an opportunity. And I’ve been here ever since,” says Sigan, who took over as showrunner Rick Aid at the start of Season 9 of Police Procedures in 2021. “I never lost sight of how crazy it is to work with so many people. who are so good. Speaking only of Matt and Rick, I think I’ve had to write with the best of the best, but I could also list a dozen other writers from previous and current staff who are great to write with.

“I think Dick Wolf attracts writing writers who want to write a lot and do it as much as possible,” she adds. “Being able to write so much with these people is by far the best part of the job and the reason I’ve been here for so long.”

Tracey Spiridakos as Haley in Chicago P.D.
Laurie Allen/NBC

Andrea Newman has also been part of the family for years, but didn’t take on a lead role until season 10 in 2021, becoming co-showrunners with Haas when he shifted his focus to another spin-off, FBI: International.

Her start in the Wolf Entertainment team was the same as many: she was a spectator.

“When I moved to Los Angeles, one of my first encounters was with Dick. I’m still in shock that I got to get the word out in that meeting because I’ve always been such a big fan – Law & Order was one of the shows that inspired me to switch from acting to TV storytelling. it was so masterful and the characters were so compelling,” she says. diversity.

The duo talk about yet another project that never came to fruition. So when, many years later, she received the script for the pilot for Chicago Fire and was “overwhelmed” by the story, 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,” Newman says. “I was lucky enough to meet Derek and Michael Brandt and ended up on the show that first season.”

Over the years, her working relationship with Haas, the co-author of Fire, only grew stronger. In fact, Haas jokes that she has been on the show for years, but it only became official this year.

“The bad thing about working with Derek is that he makes writing seem easy,” she says. “He loves to do it and it doesn’t seem to affect him in any way, which makes the rest of us want to kill him.”

Haas can’t help but admire his colleague: “Andrea Newman is the most talented writer I’ve had the pleasure of working with in Hollywood. She is like an athlete with five tools – effortlessly writes hilarious comedy, and then emotional drama, sometimes within the same scene. Plus, she’s gorgeous and cares deeply about the show.”

Years before One Chicago was in Wolf’s head, he focused on another franchise: Law & Order. That’s when Julie Martin showed up.

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Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU.
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The couple met in the 80s when he was working on Hill Street Blues and she was painting on St. In the other place. She then joined Homicide: Life on the Street and collaborated with Wolf in 1995 when there was a crossover episode with Law & Order. She took her official job on his show Law & Order: Criminal Intent in 2006.

“It’s always been like a family organization,” says Martin. diversity. After two years on Criminal Intent, she went on to work on the mother ship Law & Order and the short-lived Law & Order: Los Angeles. She joined SVU in Season 13 and has directed over 200 episodes since then. from the series directed by Mariska Hargitay. Since then, she has realized that working in the Wolf Entertainment team is based on trust.

“I feel appreciated and valued and not micro-managed,” says Martin. “They build our teams and believe they are doing the right thing. It’s incredible cooperation and support and really, mostly hands-off.”

While you “don’t want to get a phone call” from Wolf himself when this happens, it’s because he cares so much about the storyline, not because he doesn’t believe in the team he’s built. Martin laughs: “Dick’s favorite line is: ‘You’ve got it. Don’t screw up.”

Martin also wrote the script for the 20th season of Law & Order in 2010 and was just as shocked as the rest of the team when NBC pulled it off, mostly due to its impact.

“There is no other show on the air that takes on the real issues of the day, dramatizes them and gives them a special meaning. The ability to tell stories like this just doesn’t exist in any other media than Law & Order,” she says, noting that from time to time she still finds herself ripping stories out of the newspaper and thinking it’s good to be good. plot.

Last year, NBC announced that the Mothership was returning with some of its original cast members. It has already been renewed for season 22.

“I’m so happy he’s back. I’m happy for Dick. I’m happy for the audience that they can watch it.”

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