Behind the Scenes of Dick Wolf's Series Empire: Law & Order, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, FBI: International
BY Yako Molhov
Among the guest stars who walked the red carpet of the 61st Monte-Carlo Television Festival this year were actors from Wolf Entertainment's long-running hit dramas Law & Order, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and FBI: International.

Taylor Kinney and Marlyne Barnett from the One Chicago franchise, more specifically from Chicago Fire and Chicago Med; Camryn Manheim from Law & Order and Luke Kleintank from FBI: International sat down with journalists during the Festival and revealed details about the different franchises and about their experience shooting for Wolf Entertainment.
Taylor Kinney stars in the first installment of Wolf Entertainment's Chicago franchise - Chicago Fire - as Lieutenant Kelly Severide, Rescue Squad 3. Kinney commented that being part of the franchise from its inception is a rarity and pride thing, especially with all the streaming services now, being part of a broadcasting network show. He was there to help nail down the ties and the rails of this train and it's up and running, as long as they'll have him, he will see it thru, it is a dream job. Kinney still enjoys what he does and he is fortunate to keep doing something that he loves. In terms of popularity he noted that there is a difference between acting in film and TV as opposed to acting in theater and that audience is crucial for TV. When asked about what it's like being part of a Dick Wolf production, he noted that he has been part of the Chicago franchise from the start and revealed that initially the idea was for Chicago Fire to have spin offs in different cities but part of the crew were driving thru the streets of the city and saw how police respond to a call before paramedics and firefighters and decided to do a story there, it was a slow progression, the crew did a 70-page backdoor pilot episode that was condensed to fit into Chicago Fire and then edited as a pitch pilot for the network that this will be Chicago PD. They tried to do the same for Chicago Med but it didn't go so they did an episode with a bomb going off at a hospital. Next year Chicago Med was picked up and after that they tried to do Chicago Law and Kinney joked that network executives said "wait a minute, Dick Wolf wants to run the network here". He added that the amount of people working on the shows, their reach is amazing. He also said he has the utmost respect for all first responders and when working on the series, he doesn't want to do wrong by the trade, by the profession. When talking about his character and what keeps him interested in playing it, Kinney commented that he wants to see this thru as such opportunities don't come often and that the writing and the writers keep the character interesting, in firefighting there is no lack of drama and stories to tell. He also noted that this is the longest he has ever lived at one place, in Chicago and the role gives him stability.

Marlyne Barnett plays the role of Maggie Lockwood in Chicago Med, the ED's charge nurse who is not afraid to speak her mind when it comes to schooling the residents. The actress commented that she considers herself a healthy person. As far as her character in the series is concerned and the similiraties between them, Barnett said that Maggie has a love in humanity and willing take risks a little bit better than she would, she's the first respondent to people's fears. Barnett herself went to a nursing school in Montreal at College Maisonneuve and several family members—including her mother and sister—are medical professionals. She commented that her education and family upbringing helped her a lot for her role as a nurse. Barnett also played a role in the Law & Order franchise and when asked if she would like to have a crossover between Chicago Med and Law & Order, she said she would love it but the crew have to think of the logistics of the story, how the blue-collar workers of New York will be affected, it would have to be an interstate problem that is dramatic, painfull, which takes her to COVID. in 2019 they did a crossover episode called 'Contagion' about a flesh-eating disease which was very dramatic and had scenes of empty donwtown Chicago and less than nine months we were living in COVID. In terms of what makes One Chicago franchise special and what sets it apart from other series, Barnett noted the writing, the connection with the people, the human connection how it translates to the audience. You need something that is baseline, in the writing and acting and you also need a producer who knows how to cast. Barnett noted that she watches a lot of series and has just finished binge-watching Danish drama 'Borgen' and she asks herself it has been 8 years since the start and still there is something about the character that grabs you and what does she know about Danish life - but she knows about human life and she captures it, a woman that struggles to find her identity. Dick Wolf is in English, Portuguese, French Italian, Japanese, he is a really good producer. He always make sure that he stays authentic to the craft that he is practicing on the show, there are always consultants in the series on site.

Luke Kleintank is part of FBI: International, the third series in the FBI franchise. He plays the role of Scott Forrester who leads FBI's "Fly Team", elite operatives headquartered in Budapest who locate and neutralize threats against American interests around the world. Kleintank moved to Budapest for the role and commented that it was a huge step for him. The actor has managed to pick up certain little phrases in Hungarian, the older folk there don't speak English well but younger people do. The storylines often take place in other countries and the actor commented that the writers do research for each country and the series tries to hire actors from the country where the episode takes place or they are somehow related to this territory and there is only one other show that does this. In the show the writers use real-life cases, every story on the show is derived from an actual story.Kleintank also revealed that there have been talks about more crossovers within the FBI franchise but also network crossovers with other shows like Law & Order, One Chicago, despite the difficulties with the licensing deals.In terms of his earlier work on daytime TV, the actor commented that it was not as creative as primetime TV and it his work on The Young and the Restless was stressful since usually the series produced one episode per day.

Camryn Manheim plays Lt. Kate Dixon in the 21st season of Dick Wolf’s legendary crime drama Law & Order. In her first TV role, Manheim made a guest appearance during the initial 13-episode run of Law & Order’s first season three decades ago. She had two more guest roles in Season 3 and Season 4, playing different characters. The actress commented that this is her fourth character in the show now. She went to college in NYU and Law & Order The Original as she likes to call it was the only show shot in New York at that time, every actor wanted to be on the show, it was a badge of honor. The crime drama was her first TV show out of NYU and she got her SAG card, it was a huge thrill for her. The beautiful thing about Law & Order and Dick Wolf was the first producer to do this - he knew that there were many incredible actors in NY that he would let us come back in different years in different characters; no other show would do that. The difference now is that she has experience, she can ask questions and she knows the difference between an executive producer and AD. When she came back it really didn't feel that different, it was the exact same sets that she grew up watching the show and loved and she was shocked at how it was the same, there was familiarity but it was also different because this time she felt she belonged there. When it comes to which character out of the four she played on the show, Manheim commented that her first character was not her favorite because she played a pro-life advocate which is against everything she believes in. Her second character was very thrilling to her because she played an attorney with a death client and that was her two worlds colliding - Manheim is a sign-language interpreter, that was her day job when she was becoming an actor and they asked her to play a lawyer with a deaf client. Her third role was that of a dead-beat foster mother and she remembers vividly that she quit smoking in 1987, June 10 and this was in 1992 and the director wanted to start on her with a cigarette in her month and she said I can't but he was very insistent and she did the scene but she woke up the next day disappointed that she has started smoking again. Her new role - that of Kate Dixon - is her favorite one because she is a bad-ass and because she is tasked with this really difficult thing of having to make peace with the mayor's office, the DA and make her detectives happy and it takes a really focused person to do that. She was bullied when she was younger and she decided to join the police academy to get the bad guys. The writers are trying to do justice to the truth of police work, how the system works, also not tear down the police but not lift them up. In terms of giving ideas about storylines - Manheim commented that she is respectful of the work of writers and she doesn't want to be that actor who has story ideas but she did recently made a recommendation, because she is an advocate for the disabled community, with the success of CODA and with the lifting up of people who don't have opportunities she thought it would be wonderful if they had some deaf characters in the show. Actors have responsibility to give opportunities to people and if art is supposed to imitate life let's imitate life. Manheim gets asked a lot about what makes Law & Order so popular so many years and she commented that it is a perfect procedural, people find comfort in the fact that their stories - domestic abuse or whatever the story is, that stories in the headlines are being revealed and the back channels of how it is being handled are revealed. People are interested in the criminal justice system, she learned everything about law from The Practice and shows like Law & Order, they have a huge responsibility to get it right because people are very affected by what they learn on the show. It cannot be 100% accurate in 44 minutes but it is representational of what is happening in society. Manheim commented that she has done a lot of legal research when she was on The Practice becuase she was playing a lawyer it was really hard to give those closing statements if you didn't know what were you talking about and that they are working with great legal experts on the shows. Manheim also noted that she wants more crossovers in Law & Order and expects one this season as well. She also noted that she is 61 years old and wants for women her age to know that anything is possible.
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