‘Law & Order’: How Dick Wolf’s Original Pitch to Fox for the Show Fell Apart

by Jacklyn Krol

Did you know that famed producer Dick Wolf pitched a similar show to Law & Order to Fox?

After he wrote for series like Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice, Wolf pitched a police procedural series to Fox back in 1987. It would feature real stories from media headlines. At the time, the network head, Barry Diller commissioned 13 episodes of the show.

However, he changed his mind less than 24 hours later. He called Wolf to give him the news. However, CBS came in and purchased the pilot. Despite the pilot, they didn’t order any other episodes of the series. Once 1989 came around, the NBC president at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, approved Law & Order and it first premiered on Sept. 13, 1990.

Actor Dann Florek, who portrayed Captain Donald Cragen in the original series and later SVU, spoke about the switch up with the networks.

“We first did it for another network, they passed on it, it kind of was forgotten, and then it was picked up almost by chance,” he told the Today show in 2015. “But NBC came through.”

Ironically, years later, a Fox crime procedural produced by Wolf would get green lit. It is called  First Responders Live, which follows firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel during their work hours. Former Good Morning America host Josh Elliott anchors the series.

“I have always been fascinated by the brave work of first responders,” Wolf told The Hollywood Reporter. “Who face life-and-death decisions on a daily basis. First Responders Live will give viewers a front-row seat to paramedic, fire and police calls, and they will see the challenges of every type of emergency. It is truly the real-life version of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med.”

‘Law & Order’ Revival Details

The original series ran for 20 seasons between 1990 to 2010.

George Dzundra (Sergeant Max Greevey), Chris Noth (Detective Mike Logan), Florek (Captain Cragen), Michael Moriarty (Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone), Richard Brooks (Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette) and Steven Hill (District Attorney Adam Schiff) were the original leads.

Over the original show’s run, the six-person cast was portrayed by a total of 29 different people. Most of the stars ended up working on other Wolf created shows. S. Epatha Merkerson, who portrayed Anita Van Buren, is portraying Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med and in the One Chicago franchise.

Alana De La Garza, who played A.D.A Connie Rubirosa along with Jeremy Sisto Detective Cyrus Lupo star on FBI. Finally, Dan Florek, a.k.a. Captain Donald Cragen, ended up starring in sixteen seasons SVU for 16 seasons before he left the show in 2015.

Law & Order is quite simply one of the most iconic shows in television history, and the idea of continuing its legacy and partnering with Dick on an all-new season is nothing short of exhilarating,” NBC Chairman of Entertainment Content  Susan Rovner said in a statement. “This is great news for NBC as well as TV fans everywhere.”

Furthermore, Law & Order premieres on NBC on February 24, 2022.