BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Chicago.
Put those two words together, and you arrive at something both historic and remotely tragic, insofar as this city was once famously consumed by one. But you also arrive, or will this fall, at "Chicago Fire," one of NBC's most important new series, produced under the auspices of Dick Wolf ("Law & Order") with a sprawling ensemble cast featuring British actors Eamonn Walker ("Oz") and Jesse Spencer ("House").
It's about a fire company that also houses a rescue and paramedics squad and -- per Wolf -- flows out of that long tradition of NBC dramas going back to "Hill Street Blues." As such, comparisons with other "first responder" NBC dramas like "Third Watch" and "ER" are inevitable -- and of course, NBC badly wants viewers to make the association, too.
"There are very few areas that give you an opportunity to really explore character," Wolf said Tuesday at the TV critics' summer press tour here. "What we're trying to do here is a very very classic adult NBC platinum drama."
He chose Chicago for the setting because "I've been on the streets for the past 25 years in New York, and I wanted the opportunity to show another great city." Said Wolf in response to this reasonable question: No plans for "New York Fire" or "L.A. Fire" if this one succeeds.
Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night," will produce his first show for NBC this fall, and it's probably not too much of a stretch to say, "Whaaa? Jimmy Fallon produced THIS?" "Guys With Kids" -- starring Tempestt Bledsoe, Anthony Anderson and Jamie-Lynn Sigler -- is a multicamera sitcom about guys with kids (OK, real babies) strapped to their chests as they explore the ups and mostly downs of fatherhood. It's a traditional sitcom in the sense that it could have aired at any time on any network over the past (say) quarter century, although Fallon insisted Tuesday that his new baby is very much "in the zeitgeist."
He lifted the idea for "Guys" from the streets of New York where he and his production partner saw "all these guys ... with Baby Bjorns" walking around.
Once an NBC mainstay, multicameras -- think people in a studio audience laughing at the punch line -- fell out of favor years ago there, but they're baaack, and Fallon is leading the charge.
"I love multicameras," Fallon said. "I always wanted to bring one back to NBC."