I like Dick Wolf. He’s obviously a success and a survivor. He told NBC last winter that if they canceled “Manifest,” he’d give them a third hour of “Law & Order” to go with “SVU”and “Organized Crime.” He said it would be called “For the Defense,” and focus on defense lawyers.
Wolf hired Carol Mendelsohn, late of “CSI” to develop the show. But no one ever developed it. And when the time came to pony up, Wolf blamed Mendelsohn for no show.
Insiders tell me that “For the Defense,” however, was all Wolf’s idea, and that he never thought it through. “You can’t have the police be wrong in every story,” said one observer. “It’s all Law, no Order. It breaks the whole theme of the shows.”
Wolf’s mistake meant “Manifest” went to Netflix after a public outcry, and NBC was left without a third hour to give Wolf a block on Thursday nights. NBC has since been scrambling to fill the time.
So no surprise today that Wolf has announced that next fall he’s bringing back the original “Law & Order.” Who’ll be in it? Chris Noth is otherwise occupied on “The Equalizer,” but he’d be a likely candidate to join the show. Wolf could make it up to Paul Sorvino, so good in the early shows almost three decades ago. Sam Waterston is available. And Linus Roache, who was kind of screwed during the show’s final seasons. Plus, where is Jesse L. Martin?
The “L&O/Wolf” people I spoke to over the summer must be cackling with this news. Mendelsohn was thrown under the bus when “For the Defense” couldn’t come up with a script or characters. The new show, as many pointed out, was just the Law without the Order. Now Wolf can try again to build his Thursday block.