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August 23, 2023 43 mins

Martha spends her summers in Maine enjoying fresh lobster, nature hikes, boat rides, and quality time with family and friends like Dick Wolf. In this episode, Martha and the creator of the Law & Order, Chicago and FBI franchises take time away from their vacations to chat about their love for Maine, what brought them there, and why they want to preserve it. They also discuss Dick’s early career in advertising (he wrote campaigns for airlines and Tampax!) - and how he became one of the most prolific producers in television history. Media moguls rarely slow down; don’t miss the chance to hear these two catch up over their summer break. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
When I sold Law and Order to Brandon Tartakov, he
asked me, well, what's the bible for the show, and
I said, the front page of the New York Post.
Nobody is I don't think ever going to be what
I think is their best crime headline, which was headless
body found in topless bar.

Speaker 2 (00:22):
Hello everyone, this is Martha Stewart and you're listening to
my podcast. If you know TV crime dramas, you know
Dick Wolf, or at least you know his name. Dick
is the film and television producer best known for creating
the Law and Order franchise. Dick and his team turn
out hit after hit, year after year. I was even

(00:42):
a guest star in a twenty twelve episode of Law
and Order SVU, which stands for Special Victims Unit, where
I played a private school head mistress. Dick's road to
success as a well respected creator and producer of crime
dramas seemed to start at an early age. As a schoolboy,
he wrote a detective serial that ran in his school newspaper,

(01:05):
and by the mid nineteen eighties, after a stint as
an advertisement copywriter, he became a writer on the wildly
popular television show Hills Street Blues. He was clearly going places. Normally,
I record my podcast in New York City, but I'm
on vacation in Maine on Mount Dessert Island. Dick Wolfe

(01:26):
also lives here, and he agreed to record write in
my library. Thank you so much, Dick, and thank you
for coming by this morning.

Speaker 1 (01:33):
It's a pleasure to be here.

Speaker 2 (01:34):
It's always a pleasure to see you, although I only
get to see you in the summertimes. Now you're so busy.

Speaker 1 (01:40):
Well, as are you? I see you on the Today Show.

Speaker 2 (01:44):
Well, when did you actually find Maine?

Speaker 1 (01:47):
The first summer I came here was nineteen sixty seven.
I came up with fraternity brothers from penn And since
that I have mentioned one summer.

Speaker 2 (02:01):
Here, just one. I must have come up around that time. Also,
Dick's a little younger than I am. I'm jealous of that.
But I've been coming here since college days. Actually, my
husband at the time loved Maine and he loved the seashore,
and he brought me here. And what we did was

(02:21):
stay at the Astacu Inn. Can you imagine without a reservation.
So they put us in the attic of the Astacu
in a little maid's room because there were no other rooms,
and we had a twin bed. And the next day
we hiked precipice and he almost fell off. I grabbed
his arm and kept him from falling down. That would
have made it a very good law and order.

Speaker 1 (02:43):
Yeah, well you had grabbed his arm especially.

Speaker 2 (02:46):
Yes, but I love Maine. Two and Dick lives in
a house that, curiously is kind of a replica of
the house that I own. Do you know that mister
Hudson who built your house up? Yes, Jerry Hudson built
built Dick's beautiful, beautiful house, and he came over here
quite often with his architect to look at features of

(03:07):
this house.

Speaker 1 (03:08):
He also sent that architect on a one year journey
around Maine to see every Savage house that was still standing.

Speaker 2 (03:16):
Yes he did, did he?

Speaker 1 (03:17):
Oh?

Speaker 2 (03:18):
Well, it is a very beautiful property. You have enjoyed
it tremendously with your kids, I'm sure. And I first
met you at Alan Stone's house. That's correct. Alan Stone
lives lived in a Duncan Candler house. Duncan Candler was
the architect of this house where I live and called Skylight. Yes,
and Skylands was the precursor to Dick's house and you sat.

(03:42):
I went there the other day for a gala for
the College of the Atlantic, and I remember seeing the
banquette in the kitchen where you were sitting where I
first met you with Charlotte Beers. Your I guess, was
that your first or second wife? Second wife? Yeah, yep,
second wife, Christine and you were there, and I was
just fascinated to meet Dick Well, who was already becoming

(04:05):
quite well known in the world of television and in
producing and in writing. And it was so much fun.
And I'm happy to say that we are still friends.

Speaker 1 (04:16):
I'm very pleased that you're one of my actually longer
friendships up here with us in the past ten years,
they should have been a rollover of generations.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
Yes, there has been, and also also a rollover in
where people come from. You know, this was once an
ancestral kind of hand me down resort. People would come
from Philadelphia and Boston and New York a little bit,
and then they would they would occupy these beautiful homes
and then they would hand them down to their children.

(04:45):
But things have changed and a lot of outsiders. I
was an outsider. I was one of the first outsiders.
I think as you were probably an outsider at one time.

Speaker 1 (04:52):
Well, I was sort of a step a step summer
native because I started coming up in college and never stop.

Speaker 2 (05:02):
Yeah, so you're probably more native than I am. I
remember they thought I was like the nouveau reach coming
into town.

Speaker 1 (05:08):
Oh it was controversial.

Speaker 2 (05:10):
Yes, buying edsel Ford's house. Dick knows what's going on
around this, to this place. But I have had a
very small town, yes, and I've had such a very
nice experience here. Are you able to unwind here?

Speaker 1 (05:24):
In me? I live a remarkably predictable life. On a
day like this, we'll go out an hour later today,
but I try to get out for an hour an
hour and a half on the water every possible day.

Speaker 2 (05:37):
Oh see, you're You're lucky you that way. And tell
us about your boat. Dick has a very exciting boat.
It is exciting.

Speaker 1 (05:44):
No, it's a Wally, which is an Italian boat company
that is best known. They started building sailboats. But they
have no rear transmits and open back, which I really like.
And I have a routine. Usually we go out twelve thirty,
eat lunch somewhere within forty minutes, but that can be

(06:06):
or now Black Island a bunch of islands.

Speaker 2 (06:09):
Do you take a picnic with you? Oh?

Speaker 1 (06:10):
Yeah, the foods. I learned that from David Rockfeller, who
the tradition up here is taking a boat sail or motor,
going to an island, getting off the boat, getting the dinghy,
going to the island, bringing all the food ashore. And
he took me out for lunch and we got the
Black Island, which is a beautiful anchorage. And I said, well,

(06:32):
where's the dan He said, what dingy? I said, well,
where are we going to eat? He said on the boat.
And he looked at him. He said, never get off
the boat. Oh he did. If you're going to have lunch,
have lunch and it's work out.

Speaker 2 (06:46):
Was that one? Was that on Sea Smoke? His beautiful
red boat?

Speaker 1 (06:49):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (06:49):
Yeah, that was David Rockefeller was a lover of the
Hinckley Boat Company and he had this big red Hinkley
called Sea Smoke, and that was his favorite. That was
his favorite.

Speaker 1 (07:00):
Here. Well, it's because it was the last one.

Speaker 2 (07:02):
He bill, Yeah, it was. It was a very nice photo.

Speaker 1 (07:04):
You hope you get better each one each time you
do it.

Speaker 2 (07:07):
I got out there with him a few times and
had had one of those lovely Baily meals. I went
down to one hundred speech the other day.

Speaker 1 (07:14):
That's a great wall.

Speaker 2 (07:15):
Yeah, blow your property, But there's so much erosion down there.

Speaker 1 (07:18):
It's sad.

Speaker 2 (07:20):
Yeah, it's so much. We've had so much rain.

Speaker 1 (07:22):
The island is constantly in a state of flux. I'm
very worried because it's fifty seven years since the fire.

Speaker 2 (07:29):
Is only nineteen forty seven.

Speaker 1 (07:31):
Nineteen forty seven, so seventy five years ago, and that's
not good. It's if you go one hundred yards into
the woods on any of the trails, it looks like
somebody has laid a fire. The bottom layer is just
very small kindling, and then there's a whole way of branches.
It looks like somebody's said this will be a really

(07:53):
good Yeah.

Speaker 2 (07:54):
Really, I know. That's just that's why I'm constantly grooming
the understory of my woods.

Speaker 1 (08:00):
It's one of the reasons that there's an organization that's
sort of tied to the park that does good works,
but it's been a big voice for bringing more of
the next generation in here when we should be doing
everything possible to keep people out. It's the second most
visited National Park in the country after your seven.

Speaker 2 (08:23):
That's right, that's right, and.

Speaker 1 (08:27):
Really burned. Yeah, it's that's unfortunately, nature's course that clears
out everything, and there's some stuff that never blooms unless
it's burned beforehand. And it's just very scary because in
forty seven it did wipe out the entire island.

Speaker 2 (08:46):
I remember, and especially Herber and the Great Summer House.

Speaker 1 (08:50):
Well it was Bar Harbor and Newport and Bar Harbor.
It's one of the funny things that the weather's always
better in Bar Harbor than the side of the island,
so they.

Speaker 2 (09:02):
Have severe winds. And there are books written about the
lost Bar Harbor. I have one in every bedroom in
this house because I want my visitors to understand how
dangerous it is to drop a match to smoke a joint,
to smoke a joint, I hope they're not smoking joints
in the woods. I certainly hope that they are behaving.

Speaker 1 (09:21):
No longer necessarily go into the woods. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (09:24):
Well, Dick and I are real lovers of this part
of Maine, and a Kadia National Park is one of
America's treasures, and both of us try very hard to
help out with philanthropic stuff that goes on to save
this park and keep it pristine and beautiful for our children.
You have five kids, five kids, and however, what are
they doing this summer? Are they here with you?

Speaker 1 (09:45):
Three of them are here right now, a fourth will
be up and the festists in California and really can't
go back and forth in the summer. They all grow
up here. There are definitely summer natives. I mean they
have been here and they were born and luckily it
really did seep into their DNA. They're all crazy about

(10:06):
being here and will continue to be.

Speaker 2 (10:08):
And my granddaughter and grandson, Jude and Truman are just
they're ecstatic when they're here.

Speaker 1 (10:13):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (10:14):
They are busy playing soccer in Harbor on that grassy field.
They are playing tennis. They are hiking every mountain, they
are kayaking, they are doing all the things that Mount
Dessert is so famous for.

Speaker 1 (10:26):
It is really you can't wear it out because I'm
eating a lot.

Speaker 2 (10:32):
Do your kids eat a lot?

Speaker 1 (10:33):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (10:35):
We have so much food has gone through this kitchen
this summer. It is incredible how much they eat.

Speaker 1 (10:42):
Especially I've got them in various age ranges, and the
twelve and fifteen year older like thrashing machines.

Speaker 2 (10:49):
So that's wrong Jude and Truman. Yeah, same thing. So
you're in Maine now, but you live in la primarily. Okay. Yeah,
but when you had your opportunity in television, you assisted
on setting your show Law and Order in New York.

Speaker 1 (11:05):
Well, I'm agill at heart in New York you are?

Speaker 2 (11:08):
Do you have a house in New York?

Speaker 1 (11:10):
Not now? No, I got rid of the thank god.
I was there one hundred days a year and then
it made a lot of sense. So I'm now there
maybe fifteen days a year.

Speaker 2 (11:19):
So your New York City upbringing was certainly very important
to your career. Yeah, tell us about that. What did
you respond to?

Speaker 1 (11:27):
Well, I responded to what I was reading at a
very early age. And it sounds funny, but the first
books I remember reading with a hardy boys and I
started those, I guess when I was five or six,
and by the time I got to the end, I
just sort of naturally segued into reading Sherlock Holmes. So
that was I would think the major influence on my

(11:48):
creative path. Through police dramas, murder mysteries. It's the ultimate stake.
So you've always got something to work for against and
it's it's been a mystery for me. And even at thirteen,
when I finished Ratchet on graduation, I pulled a cheet,
which was the equivalent of the ending of the Sopranos,

(12:11):
because I set up this situation which had maybe a
murder or maybe a suicide is the last thing, and
it said the last line, and I was leaving that
school to be continued. So it's very hard to if
it's a longer running show, come up with a satisfactory conclusion.

Speaker 2 (12:29):
Well, your current shows you have ten the past Tellivan
shows twenty eight.

Speaker 1 (12:34):
I know that's horrifying.

Speaker 2 (12:35):
I mean it's very old, Martha.

Speaker 1 (12:37):
You know how old we are.

Speaker 2 (12:38):
So it's well, see, I don't consider you old at all.
I don't consider me old at all, because.

Speaker 1 (12:44):
No, I don't consider myself.

Speaker 2 (12:46):
You're still working so hard, being so helped, so creative,
paying attention to current events in such a way that
they influenced.

Speaker 1 (12:55):
What as they are.

Speaker 2 (12:57):
I know, but it gives you a lot of fodder
for the shows.

Speaker 1 (13:00):
There's as you said, there are ten of them, but
the three fbis and the Chicago shows are the center
of the universe or the ideas that anybody who appears
in any of the ten shows can appear, and the
other nine.

Speaker 2 (13:17):
So it's a Chicago, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire. I still
remember vividly the first episode of Chicago Fire. What an
exciting program. Then you have FBI, you have FBI Most Wanted,
FBI International. And for the audience, I'm sure you have
seen some are all of Dick Wolf's productions. But when

(13:39):
I was on SVU in New York City playing a
school marm, I actually felt I was really a school marm,
and the reality of the production was so intense I
started to like perspire a little bit, like I was
going to get arrested or something. Oh my gosh, those
those women actresses so phenomenal.

Speaker 1 (14:00):
HCA is an icon for a good reason.

Speaker 2 (14:03):
Oh she is amazing. And you know she was my
neighbor in East Hampton, right around the corner, right around
the corner, and I went to her first big Halloween party.

Speaker 1 (14:13):
Did you ever hear about I heard about that.

Speaker 2 (14:15):
Oh, Dick, If you can get to go to one
of her Halloween parties, you should. She transforms her whole
Victorian house into a haunted house, and she has I mean,
she goes all out this is not a little bit
but all out.

Speaker 1 (14:28):
Mauritia goes all out whatever she does, She's phenomenal.

Speaker 2 (14:40):
When you were a child or a young man, you
wrote a detective serial that ran for two years in
your school paper. What was it about crime that has
always captivated you?

Speaker 1 (14:50):
Crime, as opposed to just drama, has real stakes. The
somebody's gone to get killed, somebody is going to be
brack down, somebody who is going to be tried. They're
all very high stakes that take people out of their
normal lives and put them in extremists, and that's always

(15:11):
kind of interesting.

Speaker 2 (15:12):
Have you done a serial killer yet?

Speaker 1 (15:14):
Oh?

Speaker 2 (15:16):
That guy in Long Island.

Speaker 1 (15:18):
No, we haven't done him yet. We will definitely do
somebody who resembles resembles him, But no, we've done multitudes
of serial killers or just multi murderers, and almost all
of them on the Vincent and Aprio show, which is
now off Lawn Order Criminal Intent.

Speaker 2 (15:37):
I do not like serial killers.

Speaker 1 (15:39):
Well I don't like them, but they shore are bedramatically.

Speaker 2 (15:42):
Aren't they. Guy in Long Island?

Speaker 1 (15:43):
Oh my god? Yeah?

Speaker 2 (15:44):
Wow, with a wife and children who lived in the
house with him, Yeah, and supposedly didn't know. How can
you not know anything.

Speaker 1 (15:51):
Well, when I sold lawn Order to Brandon Tartakov, he
asked me, well, what's the bible for the show, And
I said the front page the New York And it's
been pretty awesome a source. Nobody is I don't think
ever going to beat what I think is their best
crime headline, which was headless body found in topless bar.

Speaker 2 (16:13):
When was that?

Speaker 1 (16:14):
Oh that was about thirty years ago, thirty five years.

Speaker 2 (16:16):
Ago, headless body in the topless bar. And they managed
to keep those awful headlines going.

Speaker 1 (16:23):
Oh. Absolutely well it was rue of herdoc too, he
wrote a lot of them.

Speaker 2 (16:27):
But you were a copywriter for an ad agency early
in your career. Oh, what were the brands that you
wrote copy for?

Speaker 1 (16:34):
The first one that was Mike Hunt, was Tampax.

Speaker 2 (16:38):
They had a man writing for Tampas. Yep, Wow, what
did you know about Tampas?

Speaker 1 (16:44):
I knew that there were no pads, no pins, no.

Speaker 2 (16:46):
Belts story remember, and you wrote that right? Oh my gosh.

Speaker 1 (16:52):
And let's see what. Well, my biggest success in advertising
was the National Airlines campaign in nineteen whatever it was,
sixty eight. I'm Sheryl Flymey, remember.

Speaker 2 (17:03):
I do remember that was you that was me.

Speaker 1 (17:06):
Wow, it was my first big account. I was twenty three.

Speaker 2 (17:10):
And the pretty stewardess right, they were called stewardess.

Speaker 1 (17:14):
And those years they were the reason that it was
so successful was that it was solely aimed at businessmen
and they had the shortest skirts in the air. It
was like playboy moneies. They could not they were not
allowed to bend over. They had a currency.

Speaker 2 (17:31):
Do you know that in Westport, Connecticut, where I sort
of was newly married and lived there for twenty years,
along Beachside Avenue, which is the fanciest street on Long
Island Sound, there were at least five stewardesses ensconced in
those mansions who had married businessmen. It was a very
because of the campaign. I'm Maureen fly Me.

Speaker 1 (17:56):
National Airlines was owned by a guy named Bud Maytag,
who was the washing machineer.

Speaker 2 (18:02):
I have them done in the basement here. Maytag's yeah.

Speaker 1 (18:05):
And the owner of the agency, Bill Free, called me
in and said, look, the counts under review. I think
this campaign you come up with is in terrible taste,
but we need something to be very loud, so you
go down and sell it to Bud. Maytag said, I'm
twenty three, I've never and I walked into National Airlines, which.

Speaker 2 (18:30):
Was where where was Miami? Oh Miami?

Speaker 1 (18:32):
And there was a board table that had like twenty
guys in gray suits sitting at it, and Bud maytag
it was at the far end, who was wearing char
crews bathing trunks and a Hawaiian shirt. And we sat there,
or they sat there, and I presented this up with

(18:53):
the English art director and we had painted the noses
of the planes with girls like World War two bombers,
air fly me, Susie flying me and the guys in
the gray suits look at me? Is this a joke?
Is he insane? And by may Taglin? I kind of
like it? But isn't it grammatically incorrect? Shouldn't it be?

(19:15):
I'm cherylll fly with me? I said, grammatically, you're absolutely correct,
But the blind has a certain rhythm, it rolls out
a different way. He never got it, but he liked
the campaign and it was the most successful airline campaign
up till that time in terms for an increase in seats.
Sex cells, what can you certainly does as you well know?

(19:40):
Cover girl?

Speaker 2 (19:41):
Oh, I know right, the bathing suit right? Oh my gosh,
sex sells at any age, at any age, at any
age hopefully, Oh gosh. And so how did you go
from advertising to the entertainment world? What made you make
that jump?

Speaker 1 (19:55):
Well? I had an idea of doing basically Bad His
Bears on skateboards and made it for a million two,
sold it to Universal and it sort of disappeared, but
it wasn't an embarrassment, and I got an agent at
William Morris from that and it sort of built gradually.

(20:17):
But I didn't get into television until I've been in
California for eight years. I wrote a bunch of features
that got made. The best of them was school Ties.
Then there was one with Charlie Sheen about Porsche thieves
in Los Angeles, The Last Ride. And then there was
a thriller with Roblow, who is still a friend. But

(20:41):
it was a pretty good movie called mass Parade. And
somebody did say because I turned in the script to
Tom Cruise's agent the weekend the top Gun came out
and his agent called because he was a dichotomus character
didn't know whether he said, and she said, really good script, Dick,

(21:05):
So he can't do it. He said, he's got to
play nothing. But here LUs now and we got Rob
who was fine. But it's the difference between Tom Cruise
and Rob Love. And somebody said, do you think it
made that much of a difference. I said, it's probably
only seventy five million. You know, it's just realistic assessment.

(21:26):
And he's still doing it.

Speaker 2 (21:27):
They both are, So they're both charming actors.

Speaker 1 (21:30):
Yeah, they're very good looking for their age.

Speaker 2 (21:32):
Very good looking. The new Mission Impossible is so great.

Speaker 1 (21:36):
I have you seen it?

Speaker 2 (21:37):
Oh?

Speaker 1 (21:37):
Yeah, Oh I want to, so.

Speaker 2 (21:39):
I went right away. I have not seen Barbie yet.

Speaker 1 (21:42):
I haven't either the kids. I got a fifteen year
old daughter.

Speaker 2 (21:46):
I sent the kids two nights ago to see Barbie
at the local. We have a theater in Bar Harbor
called Real Pizza where you can have your pizza served
you in the movie theater. They loved it. The girls
loved it. And the boys all to see Oppenheimer.

Speaker 1 (22:01):
And did they like that? They loved it. Good.

Speaker 2 (22:03):
Well, it's hard to love Oppenheimer, but it's important to
see Oppenheimer. Truman had read the book and he said
it was very unlike the book. Oh but you can't
book can't capture the explosions of Adam Baum.

Speaker 1 (22:19):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (22:19):
So then you worked on Hill Street Blues, you worked
on Miami Wece. I loved Miami.

Speaker 1 (22:25):
I did too.

Speaker 2 (22:26):
I loved it. You wrote those or?

Speaker 1 (22:27):
Did you know? I was the showrunner on Miamivice? But
I was, you know, I was a producer on Hill Street.
I remember very distinctly that a bunch of people came
to me and said, what are you crazy? You're leaving
the best show on television to go to a cartoon.
Why it makes no sense? I said, it makes perfect

(22:48):
sense because it worked out very well for me at
Hill Street. And if I go to Miami Vice as
the showrunner and I run that successfully, nobody's ever going
to doubt whether I can do cop shows. And one
of my few really appreciousness. It's exactly what happened.

Speaker 2 (23:04):
It's fantastic. It was fantastic. And then while you were
on Miami Vice, is that when you came up with
Law and Order.

Speaker 1 (23:11):
I left Vice after two years, which was a great
run I have, but I wasn't going to gain anything
by doing another year, and they had to be universal
at that point, and I had become quite close, and
we came up with Law and Order. This is eighty eight.
We made the pilot for CBS and it wasn't picked up,

(23:34):
so it was a free ball, which is usually the
kiss of death. But we went to Brandon tartakop At
at NBC and he looked at it and he said,
this is really good. How the hell are you going
to do this every week? And I said, give me
six scripts. I'll prove it to you. And we did
six scripts, which were actually the first six episodes that ran,

(23:58):
and he ordered the show, Thank god.

Speaker 2 (24:01):
Oh yeah, and how many years later?

Speaker 1 (24:03):
Twenties? Well, it went on in the ninety so it's
thirty three.

Speaker 2 (24:07):
Years thirty three years old and still running strong all
over the world.

Speaker 1 (24:12):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (24:12):
How many countries are you in?

Speaker 1 (24:14):
God knows. The last time I looked, we were in
eighty two. But I could pay.

Speaker 2 (24:20):
And how many employees three?

Speaker 1 (24:22):
Well, about three thousand in Toto Big Corporation. Well it's
a lot of people, and we run very lean. I mean,
the entire executive suite is five people, including me.

Speaker 2 (24:36):
We at one point, sitcoms were more valued, more favored
in television than dramas, and you helped change that.

Speaker 1 (24:44):
I think it's a natural progression that television is a
series of hills and valleys, and it's in word shade
that it's been in since I knew about it, and
I do know about it because my father had been
in the business. Oh yeah, what did he do well?
He was a writer, producer, but he was it was

(25:08):
very strange. It was the era when the agencies own
the programming and set the schedules, and he was head
of production at one of the ten largest agencies in
the fifties, and they'd make the shows, they'd make the commercials.
It was all integrated. And it's actually a very instructive

(25:31):
story that my father turns out because I've adopted a
lot of his principles and sayings. And it was very
clear that I was very pissed off at one point
and was going to weave universal because I wanted a
certain definition on profits which they weren't willing to give

(25:52):
me at that point. And he said, let me tell
you a story. He said, in nineteen fifty eight, I
produced a show with Dick Van Dyke where he was
an advertising executive and had a pretty young wife and
a daughter, a ten year old daughter, and I financed

(26:13):
it and I made it, and his name flies out
of my head now. But whoever was the head of
Wayne Morris at that point caught him and said, George,
we can get this on the NBC schedule, but we
need a package free. He said, a package tree. I've
already paid for it. What would I pay you a
package free for it? He said, Oh, okay, never mind,

(26:34):
but it's a good script. Show didn't get picked up.
The next year, came to Dick Van Dyke show where
he had a pretty young wife and a little boy,
and I said, didn't you do anything? He said, what
could I do? It's a different you know, it was
different writers. It wasn't my show, but it was exactly
the same show now. And he looked at me. He said,

(26:57):
you know, when you're involved in a negotiation, never hesitate
to give away, which you don't have very good advice.

Speaker 2 (27:05):
Yeah, well, lawn Order has that iconic sound. Who wrote
that music?

Speaker 1 (27:11):
Oh, that's all interesting. It's Steve's erin Calton who lives
in Seal Harbor.

Speaker 2 (27:15):
Oh he wrote it.

Speaker 1 (27:16):
No, he wrote the criminal justice system. The chun John
is Mike Post who is been the composer on almost
all the shows, and you go back, he's done forty
three series. Wow, and it's everything from my shows to
all of Botchko shows, which were Hill Street and NYPD Blue,

(27:39):
to all of Steve Cannell shows, who was Rockford and Magnum,
just boy and incredibly the most played composer in the world.

Speaker 2 (27:50):
Actually really amazing. It's so great. You nailed it with that.
I mean, it just really is so iconic. Oh yeah,
what do you want viewers to take from your shows?

Speaker 1 (28:01):
The best of them and you can't do it every week.
It shows that really make people think about an issue
because we don't preach. One of the things I'm proudest
of is if you talk to media people on the
far right, I mentioned my name, they say, well, he's
practically a communist, I mean, he's so lefty. And if

(28:21):
you go to the left, they say, well, he's a Nazi.
I mean, look at the you know, he celebrates cops
and prosecutors. And I've been asked, how do I feel
about that? Great, that's exactly the way I want to
be thought.

Speaker 2 (28:34):
Of by both sides broadly and yeah, but and confusedly.

Speaker 1 (28:39):
And well it's Look, the polls of any subject are
mutually exclusive. They can't go exist. And it's one of
the things that makes writing these things, even if the
antagonists seem to come out of ancient history that you know,

(29:00):
IPD cops don't really get along with federal police forces,
et cetera, ETCeteras. It's a cliche, Tould agree, but it's
all true, and the reason is that it reflects various
colors of the spectrum.

Speaker 2 (29:14):
Are you influenced by a show like Billions?

Speaker 1 (29:18):
Not? Really?

Speaker 2 (29:18):
What do you think about that complicated, convoluted writing that
if you don't, I mean, if you miss a second,
you miss the whole way.

Speaker 1 (29:26):
I can't make that big a commitment to my own
shows to I see.

Speaker 2 (29:32):
Your shows always have such a good flow to them.

Speaker 1 (29:35):
Well that's it's really.

Speaker 2 (29:37):
And the excitement just just mounts and falls and mounts
and falls. And you have such a good rhythm in
your shows.

Speaker 1 (29:43):
Well that's what's going to be interesting, because they're constructed
to capitalize or to reach peaks at the act outs,
which are the spot where you go.

Speaker 2 (29:54):
To an advertise major commercial.

Speaker 1 (29:56):
Yeah, basically fifteen thirty forty five and the to the
show and there is very deliberate. It's the reason that
writers who are good who come to the company tend
to stay a long long time. I mean fifteen eighteen
twenty years. If I know the writer can do it,
and I trust them, I can give notes. I don't

(30:18):
have to read it again. I know that the notes
will be executed, and the shows thrive, and the writers
thrive on interesting situations that hopefully you haven't seen before,
and demonstrations that you haven't seen before, but most of all,
intellectual attitudes. And I can honestly say, there aren't many

(30:40):
shows on broadcast right now except my shows, because people
have come to expect a certain level of intellectual quality.

Speaker 2 (30:50):
My mom was a great fan. Oh good, my mother
watched every single one of your shows, and she learned
a lot. She said, I watched them because I really
learned from them.

Speaker 1 (31:00):
Well. One of the more interesting statistics is that for
years we would have the freshman class at the New
York DA's office come to a lunch. It's usually fifty
kids or kids their kids out there or mid twenties.
It was very gratifying when we started doing it. Why

(31:22):
are you here? And out of the forty or fifty,
maybe five would answer, because I'm addicted to law and order.
By the time they sort of went by the wayside,
it was about eighty percent of the kids were there
because they'd grown up watching.

Speaker 2 (31:42):
Law and Order. YEP, so it's been very influential. Well,
New York City has been really central to your loan
order shows. Do you think it will continue? I mean,
the city's kind of a mess after after.

Speaker 1 (31:56):
COVID everything everything though, that's better, right, But beyond that,
I've always said that New York, if it's a sixth
member cast, is the seventh member of the cast, because
it's one of the few things that it's certain death
for one for DPS if somebody, if you're watching a

(32:19):
quarter of the way through the season, then you're seeing
nothing but brick walls. Guys are not going to be back.
That just telt the camera down the street, and you've
got New York as a constant palliative difference.

Speaker 2 (32:34):
With the advent of so much social media and so
many eyeballs positioned on so many different things, people's attention
spans seem to be shorter and shorter. How do you
accommodate this this with your programs? Have they gone to
shorter format or no.

Speaker 1 (32:51):
We haven't changed. If you look at it first year
episode of Law and Order, the cast is totally different.
The show is exactly the same.

Speaker 2 (33:00):
It's a show, oh forty two minutes and thirty seven
plus advertising.

Speaker 1 (33:04):
Well that's the other Yes, when I started, it was
I think forty eight minutes, and then it's.

Speaker 2 (33:13):
You have to accommodate the advertisers. Yeah, well you need
the adveragary you do. Your cost have gone up, and
yeah they have to pay for it. But it's so
it stayed the same all this time. So so because
your scripts and your writing and your production is so fine,
they people are not watching because of time.

Speaker 1 (33:32):
Look, I've said this for twenty five years. Shows go south.
When the writing goes south. The writing is good, they
can potentially run forever. That's for you. We're on our
third generation of women discovering the show. Literally, a lot
of kids say, yeah, whenever I went over to my
grandmother's house, she was watching Order or s for you.

Speaker 2 (33:54):
Usually, Now, did you spend much time in Chicago when
you started that franchise?

Speaker 1 (33:58):
When you start shows, you're there are a lot and
I really like Chicago, And it shows how the media
can crucify you, even with good intentions. They came to
one hundredth episode of PD not even fireselves a long
way into the run and some reporter asks, how do

(34:19):
you like Chicago now that you've been here for four years?
I said, I love Chicago. It's like a cleaner later
New York with slightly heavier people that I've had in
my own stomach, and said, like me, who really enjoys
the portions in the restaurants here? Within ten minutes, the

(34:39):
lead on social media was Dick Wolf visits Chicago, calls
residents back crazy. Well, look, you have even more direct
results of people writing about you than I ever will,
So how much of it's accurate?

Speaker 2 (34:55):
Maybe?

Speaker 1 (34:57):
Yeah, that's well. You given it a raise that My
first father in law, who had been governor of Pennsylvania
and a very high level strategist, said that in his
entire career he has never read any news article that

(35:19):
is more than seventy five percent correct, and that's in
the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist seventy five.
But I think you're in terms of day to day
media coverage, I think thirty is high, and they're only
interested in the bad news. I tell actors this, You're
the reason I like new actors coming on to a show.

(35:42):
The reason I love my life is that six weeks
from now, I'll still be able to go out from
dinner if the show was working. And you're working. You
ceded your life to the public, and please don't screw
that up by getting mad at people or refusing to
take pictures.

Speaker 2 (35:58):
Oh no, you have to do that right.

Speaker 1 (36:00):
People don't get me.

Speaker 2 (36:01):
Don't you get tired? I said, no, we'll when they
stop asking for a picture, I'll be I'll be tired.
You have been so phenomenally successful, are you philanthropic?

Speaker 1 (36:20):
The hospital here in the Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara,
which is stacked with really good doctors, and this place.
I gave a fundraiser for the hospital about five six
years ago, and it was a beautiful day, just like that.
But I looked out on the horizon I could see
fog coming in. So I cleaned my glass and started

(36:45):
talking and said, you know a lot of the people
out here are thinking, well, if anything serious happens, I'm
going to go to Boston or I'm going And by
this time, the tendrils of fog are sort of surrounding me,
And I said, but you should consider the fact is
I basically disappeared into the pod that sometimes God doesn't

(37:06):
cooperate and you know.

Speaker 2 (37:10):
You need you if you need good, good services wherever
you live.

Speaker 1 (37:14):
I'm building the new emergency department of how.

Speaker 2 (37:18):
Good I used it Last year I got badly cut
on a friend's on the sharp edge of a car,
and I spent a week at the emergency room, going
back and forth every day at too stitches. Oh, I
had to have I had to have antibiotics intravenously. A
young medical student from a University of Pennsylvania was there
and he sewed me up, and he did a very

(37:40):
good job. It was just I felt, I felt in
good hands. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1 (37:44):
Well, you're very welcome. But I do you know that's
these connections you don't even realize until thirty years later
that there actually is valuable that we because I'm an alumnus,
we made a deal with penn and they're training doctors
for rural practices.

Speaker 2 (38:01):
So bringing up a subject, have you thought about doing
a television show in a place like Harbor Main. I mean,
we said, you know, this is not a gritty neighborhood
like New York, but would it make a good show.

Speaker 1 (38:15):
I'm not sure. It's the pace. It's hard to get
a lot of excitement when I think the average bedtime
on this island, even during the summer, is nine o'clock.

Speaker 2 (38:24):
Because their time I went to bed list nine o five.

Speaker 1 (38:27):
Yeah, I know.

Speaker 2 (38:28):
I didn't go to bed. I watched some I watched
some TV on my iPad. But you're right. It's really
a sleepy place.

Speaker 1 (38:35):
Sleepy place.

Speaker 2 (38:36):
It's meant to be, that, isn't it.

Speaker 1 (38:37):
Of course? I mean, look, the one thing I'll say,
the northeast and Seal Harbor, it hasn't changed a wick
since nineteen sixty seven when I came.

Speaker 2 (38:48):
Right, ice cream is better.

Speaker 1 (38:50):
The ice cream is better.

Speaker 2 (38:51):
Yeah, the ice cream.

Speaker 1 (38:51):
You know where the better the best ice cream is nowhere? Townhill,
Town Hill.

Speaker 2 (38:56):
Which that little store, that little store right now on
the triangle.

Speaker 1 (39:00):
Do you like saucer. Yeah, it's the best soft serve world. Oh.

Speaker 2 (39:04):
I've never stopped there. Only for newspapers. I stopp there
for newspapers.

Speaker 1 (39:08):
But software always has just no matter how good it is,
a slight chemical applcase, there's none. Oh good, It's like
fresh cream. Okays, maybe the best en I've given you.

Speaker 2 (39:19):
Okay, I am going to go there with the kids. Yeah,
because they we make ice cream here, we make our
own ice.

Speaker 1 (39:25):
I do too, but this is better.

Speaker 2 (39:27):
Okay, thank goodness to know about that. Okay, we're going
for saucer so ep creator, writer, producer, screenwriter, director, mogul.
Which role do you enjoy most?

Speaker 1 (39:40):
What I enjoy the most is where there is a
minimum of people that I have to explain things to.
The five people in the executive suite are literally the
best in the business. Peter Jankowski is the president of
Wolf Entertainment. His father was Jeane Jankowski on CBS. I

(40:01):
knew him, you know, Gene, Yes, I'm sure I did know.
Everybody knows. Yeah, he looked in He's the only executive
that looked as good as Bob Iger in a suit.

Speaker 2 (40:13):
You've written three novels, You're going to write more? No, No,
nobody reads. Are you going to do a documentary on yours?
Is somebody making a documentary?

Speaker 1 (40:21):
I certainly hope?

Speaker 2 (40:22):
How come that's that would be interesting, Dick.

Speaker 1 (40:24):
Unfortunately, I know too much about documentaries, and if you
have an autobiographical documentary and you're the person making the
final decisions, I used the German terms, it's almost guaranteed
to be schie.

Speaker 2 (40:40):
That's why I gave my rights away. Well, I know
I'm working on one and I did not keep final edit.

Speaker 1 (40:46):
Yeah, it's it's it's stupid too.

Speaker 2 (40:48):
Yeah, it's wrong, right.

Speaker 1 (40:49):
But then you really better trust that guy that you
turned the camera. I know.

Speaker 2 (40:54):
Oh oh, so you've worked hard.

Speaker 1 (40:57):
For many years and I haven't been to work a
day in the last thirty seven years.

Speaker 2 (41:04):
You think you've been to fun? Yeah, say, well that
isn't that a great way to think about your existence?
That every day you wake up and it's fun, Well,
not pretty much, pretty much.

Speaker 1 (41:14):
I know. You look at the totality of what's going
on and just the fact that again the five people
in the C group, I guess they can now call them,
it's more than seventy five years of experience together. And
last year there was a moment of sheer terror about

(41:35):
this time in the summer when the scripts were coming
in and you can't slow down the process. So at
that point there were nine scripts coming in a week
and they all have to be bread, they all need notes,
and that was really scary because you have to meet
those deadlines as you move towards precia or else it's
chaos on the set because there were people who were

(41:57):
moving up the chain and in the showrunner seats that
either had not done it before or we're taking on
two shows. It was just very It wasn't the straight
ahead up. Here's this track, one track too. It was
going all over the place.

Speaker 2 (42:13):
So do you travel though? Do you go to Europe?
Do you go to China?

Speaker 1 (42:16):
Do you go? No? I this sounds very small minded,
but no matter what methodology, I can't do sixteen hour flights.
So I really have no desire to go to the
Far East, although I know I should.

Speaker 2 (42:29):
It's just you know, do they have law and order
in China?

Speaker 1 (42:33):
No? Japan, I think they've got SPU and jam.

Speaker 2 (42:36):
Well, Dick, thank you so much. I really thank you
for taking time out of your your busy relaxation here
in Maine to sit down with me on the podcast.
It's really fun to learn more about Dick, and if
you'd like to know more about him, visit his website
Wolf Entertainment dot com, or of course, just turn on
any channel and one of his shows is guaranteed to

(42:59):
be on it. Thank you, and I hope to see
you again very soon, I'm sure.

Speaker 1 (43:05):
Well, thank you
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