"It's like being given pure oxygen," he said from his home in Seal Harbor, Maine, where he learned the news that his HBO telepic "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" led the Emmy pack this year with a whopping 17 noms.
Wolf had been hopeful that the period telepic that he exec produced with longtime pal Tom Thayer would nab a few Emmy bids, but at his most optimistic he didn't expect it to lead the pack, not by a long shot. He shared the news by phone with Thayer, who's up in Vancouver shooting Sci Fi Channel's "The Andromeda Strain" (featuring "Law & Order" alumnus Benjamin Bratt.)
"I want to bottle this feeling so I could save it and take it out every now and then when I need it," Wolf enthused. "When you work this hard with dedicated people for so long to bring something like this to the screen, it's just an enormous tribute to everyone who worked hard on it."
The Emmy bounty is particularly sweet because "Wounded Knee," based on historian Dee Brown's 1971 landmark historical work about Native Americans and the Western expansion, took a drubbing from many TV crix. Historians and Native American advocates howled that the pic monkeyed with history.
"It's an enormous validation," he said. Wolf (pictured right) was particularly peeved by the historical carping at screenwriter Daniel Giat's decision to frame the story around Charles Eastman, a Sioux doctor who was a real person during the time period of "Wounded Knee" but was not featured in Brown's book. Giat, who earned a writing nom, along with "Wounded Knee" director Yves Simoneau, is a "genius at synthesizing complex historical information into compelling narrative stories," Wolf says. "The carping really made me crazy because I know all of the research and work that went into it."
The only "little cloud" on the good news from Thursday morning for Wolf was that pic star Adam Beach did not get nommed for his role as Eastman along with the supporting bids that went to his costars August Schellenberg, Aidan Quinn and Anna Paquin. Wolf was so impressed with Beach's work he recruited him to join "Law & Order: SVU" this season.
Ego-stroking aside, most important thing about Emmy nom haul, per Wolf is that it will encourage more people to see the movie, read the book and generally be enlightened about a chapter in this nation's history of that should be studied, and never repeated.
"This movie has a message for our times, and the message is, 'We've been here before,'" Wolf says.