A new novel from Dick Wolf joins his TV empire

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NEW YORK (AP) - Hours before last week’s premiere of his new series, “Chicago P.D.,”Dick Wolf acknowledged he was nervous.

Actually, “terrified” was the word he used.

This from a TV impresario whose credits include the hydra-headed “Law & Order” franchise and whose shows have been a prime-time mainstay every season for a quarter-century - a feat likely unmatched by any other producer.

Wolf’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is in its 15th season, airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.

“Cold Justice,” a reality series where a former prosecutor and a former crime-scene investigator bring fresh eyes to moribund cases, returns on TNT for its second season on Friday at 8 p.m. EST. (This debut episode revisits the 2001 disappearance of an Altus, Okla., woman whose ex-husband, long a suspect, was arrested only last month with help from the show, then led officials to the woman’s buried remains.)

“Chicago Fire,” an action drama about big-city firefighters, is midway through its second robust season on NBC, airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.

And now on NBC at 10 p.m. EST on Wednesdays is “Chicago P.D.,” a “Fire” spinoff that could spark a new franchise for Wolf: a “Chicago”-branded portfolio.

Why not? The morning after it premiered, Wolf would learn that a solid 8.6 million viewers had tuned in.

Centered on the Chicago Police Department’s scrappy Intelligence Unit, the series pits Detective Sgt. Hank Voight and his team against the worst killers, drug traffickers and mobsters the Windy City can deliver.

A righteous cop who plays dirty when he needs to, Voight is in good hands with series star Jason Beghe in a portrayal that began on last season’s “Chicago Fire.”

Invoking Detective Sipowicz from “NYPD Blue,” Wolf hailed Beghe as “the most interesting cop since Dennis Franz.”

At 67, Wolf is a veteran producer whose resume reaches back to “Miami Vice” in the mid-1980s, and who, through much of the past two decades, kept the lights on at NBC when it had little else anybody would watch.

His metier is the full-scale broadcast network drama spanning a season of two dozen self-contained episodes, and with it he prospers, even now in an era when edgy cable fare in serialized gulps of a dozen or fewer hours commands much of TV’s buzz and critical acclaim.

Wolf drew an analogy between the indie-film model of these cable-TV series as compared with broadcast networks’ mainstream-movie paradigm in describing “Chicago P.D.” as “a big, old-time television top-drawer series production. Is it retro? Not to me. I just think it’s a really good cop show.”

But during an interview last Wednesday, there was more on Wolf’s mind than his new show. He was also marking the publication of his latest novel.

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