Tonight kicks off a mega cross over event for three of NBC’s top dramas, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Law and Order SVU. In anticipation of the big event, OHSOGRAY joined a press call with Chcicago PD and Chicago Fire executive producer Matt Olmstead and Law and Order SVU executive producer Warrant Leight. The crossover starts tonight and continues on Wednesday, November 12th.
There is a slow burn between Halstead and Lindsey on Chicago PD. Because they’re traveling to New York City together during the crossover, can we expect from the two of them?
Matt Olmstead: Further slow burning, because as it has been made clear to them by Voight, he doesn’t tolerate in-house romances, so they are holding true to that. It is tested a little bit, as you might imagine, because they are out of time, but there is no crossing the line yet for those two.
How did the crossover work logistically? Did the writing teams write for their particular characters or did they write for the episodes?
Warren Leight: Our episode goes first so I will go first. It was – each show’s team wrote each show’s episode. But there was – Matt and I probably – Matt and I were on the phone in the initial plotting stages. One of our writers, Ed Zuckerman who is the teleplay writer of the SVU part of the crossover went out to LA for a few days. And there is back and forth. It is very scary for a show runner. Show runners are all about control. Very scary for a show runner to let somebody else write their character’s lines. So we checked in with each other. If there was something I felt was a little wrong for one of our characters in the PD part, I politely made my opinions known and vice versa, I would say.
Matt Olmstead: We had a I guess a brief run through last season when we were able to get some of the SVU actors over to Chicago PD for a little crossover just kind of a one-way crossover, I guess. It was actually pretty exhilarating to be able to kind of write for new characters. And so we wrote for the Fin character and the Rollins character and of course we sent the script to Warren to check out and that he would know the characters better than we would. So yes, there was – it was kind of a respectful checking – vetting, I guess, of both material. And I could say that when I read the SVU script of our characters – three of our characters going over there – it sounded very true and there really wasn’t any notes. So yes people were dealing – high level writers were dealing with these storylines. So it came across pretty sharp.
Warren Leight: My only complaint was I didn’t like Amaro’s wheelie suitcase in your episode.
Matt Olmstead: We snuck that in. That was a late addition. I apologize.
How much interaction will we get between the characters?
Warren Leight: We have participated in disappointing crossovers where there is just one scene. We are guilty of that. But this is – it is so much the case that it made production and scheduling very difficult. We had Kelly, Danny and Mariska in Chicago for four days, four days and two days. Which took them – which meant our next episode was a legal one just to allow for scheduling. We had Halstead and Lindsey and Voight here for, I guess, two days for Lindsey and four and four for Halstead. So that this is much – I think this is less of a cheap tawdry gimmick than is usually the case. Matt?
Matt Olmstead: Yes, absolutely. You know, last season in the crossovers referring to we had a substantial amount of time with Fin character and the Rollins character. There was a bit of – to kind of light the fuse, so to speak, we had our Lindsey character appear for one scene at the end of SVU the prior hour which some people might have interpreted it as a crossover. We didn’t want to sell it that way obviously because it really wasn’t a true crossover. But now the characters are really engrained in the storytelling throughout the whole hour.
Warren Leight: I also think one thing very interesting about this is Lou Taylor Pucci is a guest star in both episodes and links it to also in a very interesting way. Matt can talk a little bit about who his character is. But to see one guest occur heavily in both episodes is an interesting way of linking them as well.
Can you talk a little bit about the genesis for the crossover? Where the idea came from and whether or not you were enthusiastic about it from the beginning? Or whether or not you had any concerns about how to make it work?
Matt Olmstead: Well, it came from Dick Wolf. He – Dick sees the long game and he knows it will be good for all three shows. I think my first reaction was anxiety. I know the fans will like it. I just know how much extra work is involved.
As I said before, I get nervous letting go of my – there is a certain amount of letting go which is exactly what show runners don’t do in terms of letting your characters go to another stage and set and not having as much say in what happens to them there as you are used to having. Also legitimately I think there are two very different PD and SVU are very different kinds of police shows and I wasn’t sure how the cross pollination would work.
Once we got into it as is usually the case. Anxiety mounts until you actually have to do the work and then there was a such a burst of energy from these guys coming here and Beghe and then Sophia and Jesse coming here. It seemed more natural once shooting began. But I understood the reasons for doing it but I had anxiety going into it was how I was about it. Matt?
Matt Olmstead: I believe as the great Sammy David Jr. who said that if you don’t have butterflies before you go on stage, then you should get out of the business. You can get into a routine and it is nice to get into a groove and a rhythm. And then you are thrown a curve ball like this and initially absolutely you are like this is going to require a lot and there is going to be things we have to take on and unexpected stuff and there are butterflies. But in creative endeavors often times that is when you do your best work because you are kind of pushed outside your comfort zone. So yes same thing. I got the butterflies. But then I also kind of recognized the fact that this might be a good thing. And having seen the three episodes crossover I am glad we did it for sure.