It is a bitter irony that this message comes from the Munich I district court: Dieter Wedel is dead. There was criminal proceedings against him for MeToo, if not rape, pending. For more than a year it has been examined whether there will be an indictment.

The allegations have settled over Dieter Wedel’s work like an everlasting shadow. Can one speak of tragedy or does the harsh judgment have to be made that Wedel rightly caught up with what Wedel is said to have done? Born in Frankfurt, according to constantly changing information probably born on November 12, 1939 on the Main, became the grand master of television storytelling at a time when the type of the autocrat was still commonplace on the set.

Wedel combined three talents: director, author and producer. There was no other way for him to create the multi-part series that shaped him. Quite a few experienced and suffered what the actress Corinna Harfouch said in 2018: “Many knew that Wedel treated actresses badly and humiliated them. That was a system supported by everyone.” Anyone who judges Wedel should know that.

The broadcasters, greedy for a “frond”, and others looked the other way, did not intervene. It’s also a testament to the hypocrisy in the industry when eyebrows were raised and hands washed in innocence after the MeToo agenda broke.

The allegations of sexual harassment only reached Wedel after his 75th birthday. Until then he had worked as a celebrated magician of television. Like others of his generation, Dieter Wedel had learned what he could at the theater. The student of theater studies at the FU Berlin staged, in addition to his doctorate for Dr. phil., at the Studentenbühne, in the Amerika-Haus and at the Hebbel-Theater.

There he learned what he would later perfect in the television game: making challenging topics attractive to a broad audience.

First at Radio Bremen as an author and radio play director, then at NDR, he produced credible everyday stories about ordinary people for television, but with an urgency and seriousness for the real that today’s reality TV can only give the lie to.

What then came was the wedelization of narrative television. Always in the triad of author, director and producer and always in the quest to reconcile narrative quality with popularity, he created multi-part series with high ratings. Whether the Semmeling stories from 1976, “The Great Bellheim” (1993) and “The Shadow Man” (1996), the Wedel films were television events.

Think big, do big, the production of “Bellheim” alone cost an incredible 18 million Deutschmarks at the time, Wedel pulled out all the stops and exceeded all budgets. His ego was grandiose, the reputation of the “enfant terrible among directors” was more than deserved, Wedel raged when he worked, his perfectionism and his choleric talent knew almost no bounds.

Still, there are no reports of actors turning down when he applied for an engagement in the new Wedel film. Mario Adorf, Will Quadflieg, Hans Korte, Ulrich Tukur, Stefan Kurt and Veronica Ferres were already big names in the business, and when they shot with Wedel they became even bigger.

Only two works should be highlighted from the impressive filmography, namely “The Great Bellheim” and “The Shadow Man”. The former tells of the comeback of a department store boss who, with three retired friends, tries to save an endangered temple of consumerism. Also a best ager film, at the same time a meticulous chamber play about the hardships or the fun of aging. One of Wedel’s peculiarities was that he was constantly looking for new fabrics – and found them.

“Der Schattenmann” had a significantly different degree of hardness than “Bellheim”, the story between the underworld and executive floors was frighteningly real. In general, whether people are good or bad and act out of their own accord, Wedel also has in his multi-part series “Der König von St. Pauli”, his first production for his private broadcaster in 1998.

But it doesn’t matter whether it’s his house broadcaster ZDF or the private competition, this Dieter Wedel has always drummed into television that there must be more fighters for the social value of witty entertainment in the medium.

Like his work, so his private life: Dieter Wedel was long regarded as a man who lived life to the fullest, as a “polyamorous lover of life”, as the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” once wrote. In fact, he had been in a love triangle for many years, which eventually ended in marriage to one of the two women. Wedel had six children, one of them with the actress Hannelore Elsner.

Dieter Wedel could only do big. So, after taking over the directorship of the Nibelungen Festival in Worms in 2003, he immediately brought this most German of all German subjects to the stage as a grandiose spectacle and dark legend of origin. Of course, top stars were involved, the seats were full – the impresario Wedel balanced the events on the stage at Worms Cathedral on the national festival agenda.

With television, the ratings success curve pointed downwards. From the multi-part to the two-part “Gier” in derivation of the millionaire fraudster Jürgen Harksen, played here by Ulrich Tukur. In 2007, he also realized the ZDF comedy “My old friend Fritz” with the same actor, and it will not least have been Wedel’s credit that Veronica Ferres was able to shine as Tukur’s partner.

Wedel then had to realize that those responsible for television were becoming more cautious and skeptical as to whether a new Wedel could attract disproportionate attention and ratings. But anyone who was able to talk to Wedel between his homes in Mallorca and Hamburg met a fire head that continued to sparkle. A screenplay here, a novel there, the festival here, television there.

Wedel always wanted and could only do Wedel. It’s no questionable prophecy that streaming television, where apparently all milk and honey flow for authors, directors and producers, would not have overlooked a Dieter Wedel.

Then came MeToo, the crash, the ban.

His lawyers are now writing: “The proceedings ended with the death of our client are proving to be a depressing example of how the foundations of constitutional criminal proceedings can come under pressure and be called into question through one-sided scandalization and a moralizing mentality of persecution.”

That is put bitterly, but there are other, more important things to note: On July 13, 2022, German television lost one of its great, very great, in Dieter Wedel. He was 82 years old.