Dick Wolf, the brains and brawn behind “Law & Order,” was two weeks away from the beginning of production on a miniseries about terrorism in New York City.
The plot was suitably scary: A bomb goes off on the crosstown shuttle. Thousands die.
The first scene was in an al Qaeda training camp somewhere in Afghanistan.
Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Mariska Hargitay, Chris Meloni, Vincent D’Onofrio — the cream of the “L&O” series — were all set to star in it. The whole thing would air over several nights on NBC.
Then, the World Trade Center came down.
On the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001 — while fire companies were counting noses to find out how many guys were not coming back — Wolf made the phone calls to kill the project.
DRAMA KING: Dick Wolf, the creator of “Law & Order,” is out with a novel called “The Intercept.”
“I know it sounds funny to say this now but . . . it was a more innocent time,” Wolf said last week.
“Nobody thought those people were really a threat to us. Back then, it was just a story.”
Twelve years later and Wolf has brought back that long-forgotten miniseries about a bomb threat in the heart of New York City.
But this time, it’s a book. Called “The Intercept,” it is Wolf’s first.
Less than two weeks after being published, it is already No. 24 on the New York Times Best Seller list. It helps to be your own brand.
The hero of the book is Jeremy Fisk, an NYPD detective with the intelligence division (and all the hallmarks of a continuing character).
“I guess you’d say the delayed inspiration for Fisk was John O’Neill,” the former FBI anti-terrorism agent who predicted al-Qaeda would try to strike again at the Trade Center after the 1993 attack,” he said.
Wolf and O’Neill used to sit late at night at Elaine’s, where O’Neill would talk about the coming threat from the Middle East.
“‘They’re not going to give up,’ he used to say back then,” Wolf says. “Nobody believed him.”
For Wolf, in the years before 2001, it was simply a good idea for a TV show. Nothing more.
O’Neill died when the towers came down — he was a security boss for the Port Authority by then, and Wolf, in his own way, is now the warning voice.
The most dangerous terrorist in “The Intercept” turns out to be, not a prayer rug-toting bad guy from a desert country, but a villain who was born and raised in Sweden.
The new threat, Wolf says, is the children of Middle Eastern and Balkan workers who immigrated to northern Europe in the 1970s and ’80s to find jobs and stayed.
“You don’t hear much about them, these kids who were raised in the West with a serious chip on their shoulders,” says Wolf.
“But there is this huge group of un-profile-able, hard-core Muslims who have a lot of people worried,” he says.
Is the book a thinly veiled script for a movie?
“I’d love to see it as a movie,” he says. “But it’s unlikely. It’s a very crowded intersection right now, terrorism stories.”