“Chicago” television franchise producer Dick Wolf was surprised and pleased last Tuesday when he was presented with the highest honor a film industry union can — and rarely does — bestow upon a non-union member.
Wolf received Local 476’s Honorary Lifetime Membership Gold Card “gratefully bestowed upon the bearer,” from union president Brad Matthys and business manager Mark Hogan.
The brief ceremony was held in the courtroom set at Cinespace that was built for the crossover episode of “Chicago PD,” titled “Justice,” that introduces the new show, “Chicago Justice.”
Some 80-90 NBC Universal and Cinespace production staffers, cast and crew from Wolf’s three other shows, and the “Christmas Office Party” feature, came over from their respective offices and sets to attend the “short but sweet” lunch break presentation.
Wolf praised Local 476 members and remarked that he is so impressed that, unlike other cities, Chicago members can work through December, January and February without any delays.
Matthys said the honorary Gold Card is rarely given to a non-member “but no non-member deserves it more than Dick Wolf,” whose three full-season NBC series and a possible fourth filming in Chicago is “unprecedented” for the city.
Thanks to the producer, “Chicago has emerged as a major production center and our union now has 1,400 members — and still growing,” Matthys said.
Since Dick Wolf and his team rolled into Cinespace with “Chicago Fire” in 2012, production of his three NBC Universal shows to date have spent a purported $400 million, indirectly providing the local economy with an estimated $1.08 billion “trickle down” effect.
Local 476’s Gold Card is conferred on union workers with 50 years of membership, like the late sound mixer Larry Gianneschi, Jr.
Non-union recipients recognized for their contributions to the Chicago film industry have been the late Cinespace founder Nick Mirkopoulos; “ER” executive producers John Welles and Chris Chulack; Sony Pictures EVP/production executive Ed Lammi and producer/director Robert Conrad.