Dick Wolf is My Hero

jorja_fox_1Dick Wolf is a hero among many writer-producer-showrunners… and not because he’s a brilliant writer who has created some of the best dramas on television today.

It’s because he isn’t afraid to fire his stars. Ever since he fired the leads of “New York Undercover” when they demanded salary increases and perks, producers have been cheering him. And his willingness to repeatedly recast “Law and Order” has wowed us, too. Wolf has proven that as long as you aren’t doing a single-lead show, it’s the franchise that’s the star, not the actors in it. He empowered producers to do what had been unthinkable and frightening before… booting out your stars.

Wolf’s spirit was being channeled over at the offices of “CSI” this week, when the producers abruptly fired Jorja Fox and George Eads when they didn’t show up for work while demanding salary bumps five years into their seven year contracts.

I hope that put a little chill into the hearts of more than a few series leads in town.

19 thoughts on “Dick Wolf is My Hero”

  1. Maybe Gary Dourdan/Warrick Brown will get a little more screen time this year. He’s always been my favorite character and actor of that series.
    It’s interesting to me that you describe Dick Wolfe as a hero to many writer/producer/showrunners. I can readily see why. But, I wonder, why hasn’t/doesn’t Law & Order and the various spin-offs do better in the awards — the Emmys or Golden Globes or something? I always have this impression that there’s almost a prejudice against Wolfe because his “brand” is so successful or perhaps because the shows, while intelligent, don’t pretend to be anything other than TV shows. I’m not sure, just seems that the show doesn’t get the awards that one might expect from the long and high ratings. Personally, I think it’s better written than C.S.I.

  2. That’s a shame, Jim, you’ve missed some great TV… and Angie Harmon, who was terrific. LAW & ORDER can be very uneven… particularly in the last season or two… but it’s still a pleasure to watch. The show I’ve never been able to get into is LAW & ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT.

  3. Actually, Jill left about the time it became hard for me to watch the show because of its time slot. I saw a few of later shows, liked Benjamin Bratt. I also did manage to catch a couple of the shows with Angie Harmon and would have liked to seen more of her.
    The real trick is to see if Wolf can continue that show without Jerry Orbach. To me, the show really came alive when he stepped in as Lenny Briscoe, and I was convinced no one could replace Paul Sorvino (after being convinced no one could replace George Dzundza.)
    Then again, should Sam Waterston update his resume?

  4. Someday some clever person will event a parlor game based on casting & L & O. In the mean time, the previous posts have prompted these additional thoughts:
    L&O:Criminal Intent — I don’t think it’s nearly as well written or well-conceived as the other L&O’s, however, this is one area where hormones come into play for me. I watch it to watch V D’O. 🙂 (along with a few million other salivating women if you’ve ever read the fansites. Don’t know why Hollywood hasn’t caught on to him more.
    Jill Hennessy — I’ve liked every woman after her better than her. Possibly the parts got written better — bigger roles, more assertive. Angie Harmon, in particular, I thought was terrific and I still miss her.
    I had the same experience as Jim with seeing Paul Sorvino go — I loved that character. But then Lenny Bruce/Jerry Orbach became the heart and soul and I’m really sad to see him go. However, he’ll be a reason to watch Trial By Jury. Also, I like the new African American partner *a lot*. I always forget his name. Question: now who will they give the wisecracks to?
    I like Sam Waterston, but I’m getting a bit bored with him.

  5. I’m a huge Dennis Farina fan — particularly as Det. Mike Torello in CRIME STORY. I think he will bring enormous energy and life to L&O and I welcome his addition to the cast. Frankly, I felt Jerry Orbach was phoning it in the last few season. He looked so sleepy-eyed and uninvolved..
    ANd I think Fred Dalton Thompson as the new D.A. as another great addition. Now if they’d just replace Sam Waterston, the show would really be re-energized…

  6. Back to CSI. I’m torn.
    I love all the characters on the original. I hate to see any of them go. Heck, the fourth season ender was horrid for me because I’d heard a false rumor that one of them was going to be killed.
    On the other hand, I’ve never had any sympathy for an actor who breaks a contract to demand more money. They got fired because they asked to be.
    I’m just anxious to see where they go next season.

  7. My guess is that they will solve crime using forenics…
    And that’s all that really matters. The franchise on CSI is king… the characters, at least to me, aren’t really that interesting. C’mon, how many people really gave a damn whether Grissom went deaf or not? Or that whatshername was a stripper? Or that Grissom might do the dance of dances with Jorja Fox? (See, I’ve been watching the show for years and I can only remember two character names.. Grissom and Brass… shows you what an impact they’ve had on me).

  8. According to ZAP2IT, Moonves says the firings were “all business.”
    LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) For CBS chief Les Moonves, the firing of “CSI” stars George Eads and Jorja Fox comes down to this: They didn’t live up to their contracts.
    Eads and Fox, who have been with CBS’ top-rated series for four seasons, were sacked this week after they failed to show up for their first day of shooting on the show’s fifth year. Both actors were reportedly holding out in an effort to be paid more than they currently are.
    “There comes a point where we feel a contract is a contract,” Moonves, co-president and co-COO of CBS parent Viacom, told reporters Sunday (July 18) at the TV Critics Association press tour. “We had been having discussions with their lawyers. There were certain veiled threats about their not showing up, and there comes a point where we all have to look out for the future of the network television business.”
    Not showing up for work as a negotiation tactic has worked for a number of actors in recent years, including several members of “The West Wing” cast and another CBS star, Brad Garrett of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” But Moonves believes that “this behavior has to stop.”
    “I’m sort of old-fashioned,” he says. “I believe when you and I shake hands and we sign a deal, it’s a deal. … And if by the fourth episode of the season we had decided that George Eads, we wanted to fire him, guess what? I couldn’t pick up a phone and say ‘You know what, I want to fire you, but the contract really doesn’t matter, so I’m not going to pay you for the other 18 episodes that I owe you.”
    A representative for the two actors couldn’t be reached Sunday. “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker says he’s “saddened” by the news but understands the business reasons behind Moonves’ and CBS Entertainment president Nancy Tellem’s decision.
    “We have full faith and confidence in Carol Mendelsohn show-running ‘CSI’ to make that show great,” Zuiker says. “And, you know, it is show business, and the show must go on.”
    Moonves says “we’re talking to certain people” about filling the shoes of Eads and Fox on “CSI,” but no one’s been cast yet. He offers a flat “no comment” about the possibility of either actor returning to the series. Meanwhile, production will stop this week to allow for some rewrites. It’s expected to resume shooting the following week and is on schedule for its season premiere Thursday, Sept. 23.
    If recasting doesn’t happen quickly, Moonves expects other members of the cast — he mentions Eric Szmanda and Paul Guilfoyle by name — to take on larger roles. “‘CSI’ has wonderful actors, but if we make a change here and there, I don’t think it will hurt the show,” Moonves says.

  9. I meant where they’ll go as far as characters.
    Yes, for the most part the plot is king. Which is nice since it’s wrapped up in one episode, unlike Alias and 24, which you also know I love. But I do feel a certain love of the characters after all these years.
    I’d already guessed hat Eric Szmanda will have a bigger roll. And since they’ve been gromming his character for that last year, it will make the most sense of any option they have.
    Ultimate, the only people this will hurt will be the actors who are now unemployed.

  10. I’m sure Shelly Long regrets to this day walking off CHEERS…
    Of course, the guy who wakes up everyday saying “jesus, how could I have done that? What the hell was I thinking” has to be George Lazenby.
    Other runners up include … Tony Mustante (“Toma”), George Dzunda (“Law and Order”), Pernell Roberts (“Bonanza”), and McLean Stevenson (“MASH”) who, being dead, has probably stopped kicking himself by now.

  11. George Lazenby? Sorry, not sure who that one is. 🙂
    At least with Shelly Long, she had worked all of her contract before she left. But I think from interviews I’ve seen with her about the show, she does wish she’d stayed with it.

  12. I’m looking for a writer for a proposed 60 minute crime drama that major studio is interested in. Story is based on a real character. Since Dick Wolf isn’t available are you?

  13. I am an L&O Junkie!
    I watch them all! I love them, my only problem is some are on too late for me most times, so I catch the reruns.
    I was deeply lost with Jerry Orbach’s death.
    I always wanted to go where they filmed the show in hopes of just seeing how it is done on the streets.Not to get up in their faces, just watch from a distance.
    I praise the shows and I hope they can continue for many more years to come.
    I enjoy watching them, knowing many are based on real events.
    Keep up the good work Mr. Wolf….

  14. Hi everybody! The death of Jerry Orbach makes me feel very sad, it’s like if one part of me was suddently empty:(
    The work Dick Wolf and all the actors give is marvelous! I will love all of hem until I stop breathing.In my view, the characters of Lenny Briscoe and Jack Mc’Coy will stay the more charismaticals characters of the serie, because performances of the actors are so strong, and the story of their characters give so much reality to the fiction. Moreover, the dialogs are fine and the story is really intresting.
    So thanks to the actors and thanks to Dick Wolf for giving us again and again one hour of real good time. Honnestly all the others series as that “Experts of miami” are so stupid and unintresting compared of this serie which is yours.
    SO LONG LIVE to hour Bible:”Law and Order”! and LONG LIVE to its creator the Big Dick Wolf!:)


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