Asked and answered: ‘Chicago Fire,’ ‘P.D.’ showrunner responds to fans’ questions
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Before I met with “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” showrunner Matt Olmstead at the TV critics’ press tour in Beverly Hills, I asked fans of the show to tweet and email me their questions about the NBC dramas.
You did. I asked. Olmstead answered.
Here are your queries, along with a few of mine peppered in for good measure:
Q. The season finale of “Fire” had just about the whole cast race into a building that went up in flames. Will at least one main character not survive?
A. Yes. Maybe one and a half. (Joking … I think.)
Q. Did you know going into the finale who wouldn’t come out?
A. We had a pretty good idea. It was a tough decision. On a show like that, you have to remind people that there are dangers involved.
Q. How much of the cases in both shows are based on real-life events?
A. Probably about 75 percent. You’ll hear stories and take an element of that. [Chicago Fire District Chief] Steve Chikerotis, who’s our technical advisor, will tell us stories. Or he’ll bring up a life-saving device that’s cool and we’ll bring that over.
Q. Do you reach out to the actual family members or victims before the episode airs?
A. No. We would if we were going to do, wholesale, a story based on someone’s life or real event. We always fictionalize it or end up using part of it. A lot of times what we’ll do is take a real event in the news and take it to our technical advisors to hear how they would investigate it.
Q. What storylines affected you most on each show?
A. Last season there was a storyline where Casey’s (Jesse Spencer) responsible for the sons of Darden, his best friend, after their mom goes to prison. As a parent, it was rewarding to be a part of the writing process. I guess I have a soft spot when it comes to parents and kids. Early on in “P.D.,” the young kid that’s hiding in the closet — the kid who’s going to get jumped into a gang — the lengths Voight (Jason Beghe) goes through to get him out of the gang was, I thought, very well done. It also got our show off on the right foot. We knew going in we had Voight as a dirty cop, but it hopefully exceeded people’s expectations that here he is, kind of doing dirty things, but in service of trying to free a kid up.
Q. What’s Casey going to be up to in season three?
A. Casey has an interesting first half of the season in that he’s proposed to Dawson (Monica Raymund) yet now this wrench is tossed into the works in that she wants to be a firefighter. He’s being protective of her. She’s around a bunch of guys. Her decision to fulfill her dream complicates their ability to move forward in a relationship as seamlessly as it would if she were still a paramedic.
Q. Will Casey suffer more effects from last season’s head injury?
A. If we ever want to revisit it we can. It enhanced some of his violent tendencies whenever he’d get angry. In terms of a medical threat, he’s aware of it but it’s not going to be out in front in terms of storyline.
Q. Will there be more crossovers between “Fire,” “P.D.” and another Dick Wolf-produced drama, “Law and Order: SVU?”
A. We liked them a lot. We’re planning to do an “SVU” three-way crossover. The incident starts on “Fire,” is investigated by “SVU” and wrapped up in “P.D.” We’re waiting to do the long-awaited Casey-Voight crossover/confrontation. They never mended fences. We want to go back there when the time is right.
Q. Any new characters next season?
A. The Atwater character (Harvey native LaRoyce Hawkins), the partner of Burgess (Marina Squerciati), got promoted to Intelligence. We’re casting right now for a male uniform to pair with Burgess, which will also be a little bit of a triangle with Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) because they have this secret relationship. Other than that, we’re staying pat.
Q. Any possibility you’ll film on the Northwest side up by the Superdawg?
A. (This question evoked a quizzical look from the L.A.-based Olmstead.) I’m writing this down right now. (He typed it into his smartphone.) I’m sending it to the line producer in Chicago. I’m all over it.