A prolific writer and producer who created one of the most successful TV franchises in history, Dick Wolf entered the history books when his creation "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) tied perennial Western "Gunsmoke" (CBS, 1955-1975) as the longest-running shows on television. After starting his career writing forgettable movies in the late 1970s, Wolf joined the writing staff of "Hill Street Blues" (NBC, 1981-87) before moving on to form his own production company and embark on his signature "Law & Order" franchise, which was unique in breaking up the hour into two halves; the first dedicated to the police investigation of a crime and the second focusing on the courtroom prosecution. Because of the show's ratings success, Wolf had free reign to develop any show he pleased. That resulted in a string of interesting, but ultimately short-lived series failing to last more than a season. He decided instead to expand the "Law & Order" universe into two highly successful shows, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001-2011), both of which utilized the original's winning formula. With several characters making crossover appearances, Wolf was able to boost another show's appeal by adding an audience favorite to the cast for an episode, an arc or a season. Though he flopped with "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (NBC/Court TV, 2005-06) and "Law & Order: Los Angeles" (NBC, 2010-11), Wolf's franchise flourished and underscored the producer's TV dominance for over three decades.