Law & Order brand creator Dick Wolf Monday lashed out at the press, complaining that it has characterized his shows as “too old” and “battered” while ignoring the fact that they are the “most profitable brand in the history of the medium.”
The three shows, mother ship Law & Order, along with Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit, last year generated $1 billion in advertising revenue, according to Wolf.
While critics continue to give his shows good reviews, he said it turns into a “self-fulfilling prophecy when you guys write about the demise of a show. … That’s what I react to."
“There is no bad news here,” he said.
Wolf pointed to the "unheard of" business partnership between Wolf Films and NBC Universal for the past 16 years and summer rerun ratings last week showing that Law & Order and CSI shows accounted for seven of the top-20 shows.
“I’m not saying television should be filled with just procedurals, but look at the numbers guys.”
Saying he wanted to “get this off my chest,” Wolf criticized the press for basically ignoring Criminal Intent star and panelist Vincent D’Onofrio in his first season with the show while lavishing all its praise on ABC’s Alias.
“If you guys had been paying any attention, I firmly believe he would have gotten an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe nomination the first season,” Wolf said.
Now, five years later, Wolf said Alias reruns sold three weeks ago for $175,000 per episode, while Criminal Intent “sold for 1,100 percent more.” (A representative from Buena Vista TV claimed the $175,000 figure was too low, but would not provide an exact figure.)
The three shows in the Law & Order franchise have a combined 605 episodes, and have turned TNT into the No. 1 and USA into the No. 2 basic cable networks, according to Wolf.
Wolf has been bombarded over the last year with stories about how supposedly bad his shows have been hurt by the likes of Desperate Housewives and, early in the season, CSI: New York.
Wolf insists that Criminal Intent is the “only show that could have possibly held up against Desperate Housewives” on Sunday nights.
“Sure it was down, but it was not out.”
Citing a "lack of sophisticated business reportage" in the consumer media, Wolf spent a good deal of time during his 30-minute TCA press tour appearance Monday sparring with reporters.
"We’re not looking to be the hot show," he says. "That’s not what the brand is about. It’s about longevity, repeatability and about staying on the air and being a profit center for NBC for years to come."
Wolf went on the attack when asked whether his procedural dramas which, along with the CSI franchise, now proliferate primetime television run counter to network executives’ desire to "think outside the envelope" to develop future hits.