Dick Wolf’s freshman CBS drama series FBI, which was just renewed for a second season, is getting a spinoff. The network has commissioned a backdoor pilot for FBI: Most Wanted, which will air as an episode of FBI in the spring. The project has a series commitment, making an episodic pickup for next season likely.
As the name suggests, FBI: Most Wanted is centered around the division of the FBI tasked with tracking and capturing the notorious criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
The planted spinoff episode, which is now casting leads for the potential offshoot series, is written by Wolf and one of his trusted writer-producers, Law & Order alum Rene Balcer, and will be directed by another Law & Order veteran, Fred Berner, who also has been directing episodes of Wolf’s Chicago dramas on NBC.
FBI: Most Wanted hails from Wolf’s Wolf Films and Universal Television, where the company is based, in association with CBS TV Studios. Wolf and Balcer executive produce with Wolf Films’ Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski.
In spinning off FBI, Wolf is taking a page out of his own Chicago playbook. The mothership Chicago Fire series also was in its first season when a spring episode served as a backdoor pilot for a potential cop-themed spinoff series. It became Chicago P.D., one of three spinoff series launched in the franchise.
That is how Wolf is envisioning — and selling — his projects — not as individual series but as franchises and universes of characters whose storylines cross over seemlessly across different shows.
I hear that is also how Wolf originally pitched FBI to CBS, and FBI: Most Wanted is part of his vision for a franchise consisting of at least three series. I hear he already has ideas for a potential third show should Most Wanted do well.
FBI is CBS’ #1 new series in total viewers and the #2 new series overall this season, averaging nearly 13 million viewers. Recently renewed for a second season, FBI centers on the inner workings of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It stars Missy Peregrym, Zeeko Zaki, Ebonée Noel, Jeremy Sisto and Sela Ward. Wolf, Rick Eid, Terry Miller, Forney and Jankowski are executive producers for Universal TV in association with CBS TV Studios.
Balcer was one of the original writers on Law & Order and rose through the ranks to become executive producer and showrunner. He then developed Law & Order: Criminal Intent and was EP/showrunner for 10 seasons.
Balcer recently was writer, executive producer and showrunner on Wolf’s NBC anthology series Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Murders.
“Rene and I have been working together over the past three decades and he is one of a handful of truly great showrunners with whom I’ve worked,” Wolf said of Balcer at the time of his hire on The Menendez Murders. “Law & Order won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series under his watch.”
Balcer, who most recently wrote the drama series The Council for Canada’s CBC-TV, is repped by CAA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and the legal firm Rohner & Walerstein.
In addition to the three Chicago series, veteran Law & Order: SVU and the upcoming Law & Order: Hate Crimes on NBC, Wolf also has a New York Undercover reboot in contention at ABC. He is repped by WME.