TV producer Dick Wolf likes journalists. And well he should. Without newspapers to crib from, his ripped-from-the-headlines "Law and Order" franchise pretty much wouldn't exist. And Wolf's long been a favorite of journalists for his accessibility and his readiness with a controversial quote. So it stands to reason that Wolf, above all other TV types, should know how you guarantee a positive session with the press.
How, you ask? By talking about their favorite subject: themselves! The assembled press purred like kittens at a milk-truck spill at the Wednesday Q&A session on Wolf's forthcoming NBC drama, "Deadline." The drama stars Oliver Platt as a headstrong New York tabloid columnist who solves crimes with an intrepid group of journalism students. Never mind that we've seen nothing of the show except a couple-minutes-long trailer, or that it sounds like one of the more implausible premises for week-in, week-out crime-solving since "Scooby Doo." The fourth estate was much more interested in hearing which New York tabloids Platt liked better; what journalists Platt consulted for research; whom Lili Taylor based her gossip-columnist character on. In other words: Don't you find us fascinating?
Thus the session turned into a 45-minute mutual stroking session. "What's the difference between a columnist and a reporter?" asked Platt. "Ego!" His audience mostly, of course, reporters rather than columnists roared. Even when someone managed to raise the question of why Wolf cast Platt as a lead when, after all, the jowly actor is about as leading-man dashing as a smoked ham, it was in almost cringingly apologetic terms: "I mean, he, he doesn't look like a conventional TV star he looks like he could be one of us!"
Finally, someone simply came out and asked Wolf the pressing question flat out: "What do you think of journalists?" Tell us you love us!
"I bear no ill will toward journalists," Wolf answered. "They do a job that is part of the bread and butter of American life."
Purrrrrrrrrr. Speaking of bread, someone knows which side his is buttered on.