FBI: Dick Wolf Teases Season Premiere Crossover That Echoes Jeffrey Epstein Scandal, Explains Why Franchise Nights Work

CBS’ new all-FBI Tuesday lineup will launch Sept. 21 with a three-hour crossover linking the three series, returning FBI and FBI: Most Wanted and new addition FBI: International.

During an FBI franchise panel at TCA this week, CBS released a trailer for the crossover (you can watch it above), with FBI executive producer Dick Wolf and cast members from all three shows discussing the premiere.

Wolf spoke of some real-life headlines that influenced the crossover story, referencing convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, his forger associate Ghislaine Maxwell as well as businessman and producer Steve Bing who died tragically last year.

“I think that the crossover embodies what these shows are supposed to be,” Wolf said. “All these shows are fiction. I start with that. But there are certain elements in this show that will remind the audience of Jeffrey Epstein and Steve Bing, and other people that have been in the papers over the past year, Ghislaine Maxwell. It’s really exciting. It’s not the same story. But it’s a story that in its scale not only justifies but thrives on three hours in a row. And we know these work. When they’re done well, they’re ratings crack. To be able to introduce International with a three-way crossover, I think is an amazing opportunity which I’m very, very grateful to the powers that be at CBS for saying, ‘Go for it and do it and hopefully knock it out of the park’.”

Kicking off the crossover premiere at 8 PM is FBI: Most Wanted, which investigates the murder of a young woman following a glitzy yacht party attended by powerful men. In FBI, the case becomes a manhunt for the leader of a criminal enterprise. And then in FBI: International, the Budapest-based FBI fly team heads to Croatia to help capture an American fugitive who escaped to Zagreb with a 14-year-old girl.

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“I’ve now seen the crossover that kicks off all three shows in two weeks, and it’s really, really good television,” Wolf said. “And the cast on the FBIs is truly extraordinary. The storytelling is great. The showrunners are all experienced members of our team. And we’re setting out on what I would call a more mature basis with the entire franchise than we have had the opportunity to be almost in any other situation this quickly.”

The FBI-branded night joins Wolf’s successful One Chicago Wednesday lineup on NBC. (Wolf also had a Law & Order Thursday on the fall NBC schedule which did not fully materialize after he and the network scrapped the proposed new For the Defense spinoff.)

“We know this works, that there are certain dynamics that are just true when you stack these shows,” Wolf said about doing a primetime lineup of three series from the same franchise that can stage frequent crossovers. “You can look at research that tells you that everybody talks about binges, and people bingeing a series and watching (a season) in three nights. These are streaming series where the average order is 8, and you can get through a whole bunch of episodes.  But the average binge is three hours. That that seems to be where people are most comfortable if they’re going to sit down and watch something. And after 40 years of doing this, the one thing I know is that if you set the table correctly for an American television audience, they’ll stay.”

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