Steven Bochco

Show Creator/Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

Steven Bochco (1943-2018), a producer known to "push the envelope" in many of the series he created and produced attests to experiencing as much drama behind-the-scenes as on the screen. On producing Hill Street Blues, he says, "there is something that is truly magical when you catch lightning in a bottle. And here we've got a whole bottle full and you've got to fight very hard. So, every day in my life, I was fighting something. Usually the network, a lot of broadcast standards was a battle. Every day, for five years honest to God." In his six-hour, two-part Archive interview, Bochco talks about his early interest in writing, his college career at Carnegie Mellon and his move to Los Angeles. He then discusses his first job at Universal Studios, which led him into his first professional writing assignments on Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre, Ironside, Columbo, The Name of the Game and his first producing duties on Lieutenant Schuster's Wife.  He discusses his move to MTM Enterprises and the creative freedom he was given. Bochco then discusses at length the creation and production of Hill Street Blues. He then chronicles leaving MTM and developing L.A. Law and then briefly touches on his other shows Doogie Howser, M.D., Hooperman, Cop Rock, Capitol Critters, The Byrds of Paradise, Murder One, Brooklyn South, City of Angels and Philly. He details his work on and the negotiations he went through to push the boundaries of language and nudity on network television. In summing up, he discusses what he sees as the role of a producer. Karen Herman conducted the interview on May 21 and September 12, 2002 in Los Angeles, CA.

"The advice I'd have to give producers is take responsibility for what's up there, good or bad. Preferably bad. Always share the responsibility when it's good. Take all the responsibility if it's bad."

Highlights
Steven Bochco on the genesis of Hill Street Blues
05:47
Steven Bochco on the creation of the iconic opening sequence and theme song of Hill Street Blues
02:29
Steven Bochco on creating compelling storytelling on L.A. Law
00:55
Steven Bochco on how NYPD Blue almost didn't get on the air 
02:24
Steven Bochco on the negotiations he had with Capital Cities/ABC executives regarding language and nudity on NYPD Blue
06:01
Steven Bochco on learning the craft of dramatic writing from Richard Levinson and William Link on Columbo
02:06
Steven Bochco on his storytelling style
00:17
Steven Bochco on advice to aspiring producers
02:04
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences and gravitating toward writing as a student at Carnegie Mellon
On his first job at Universal where he ran a writing fellowship program and began to write for television
On his first television writing credit, an elongation of a Rod Serling Chrysler Theatre  teleplay
On working on the series The Name of the Game , meeting his early mentor Dick Irving, writing  Lt. Schuster's Wife ,  the film Silent Runner , and ultimately deciding to become a producer
07:04

Chapter 2

On writing additional material for the series Ironside
On working on the Universal series Columbo , under the mentorship of Levinson and Link
14:12
On writing the TV movie Lieutenant Schuster's Wife, his ill-fated producing of Griff , and working on McMillan & Wife
On rewriting the pilot for The Six Million Dollar Man and eventually joining Delvecchio where he continued to learn his craft under the guidance of William Sackheim
05:43

Chapter 3

On producing Delvecchio
On producing Richie Brockelman, Private Eye with Stephen Cannell and then leaving Universal to join MTM Enterprises 
On executive producing Paris and working with star James Earl Jones
On the beginnings of Hill Street Blues and how he negotiated creative control from NBC
05:52

Chapter 4

On developing the look and feel of Hill Street Blues and his fight for creative control
09:23
On some of the problems on the set of Hill Street Blues and how he maintained control as a producer
05:48
On NBC head Fred Silverman's opinion of Hill Street Blues and his later dealings with Brandon Tartikoff when launching L.A. Law
On developing the look of Hill Street Blues with directors Robert Butler and Gregory Hoblit
On the writing of Hill Street Blues

Chapter 5

On the creation of trademark elements of Hill Street Blues (roll call, story arcs, blackouts, opening sequence)
On the casting of Hill Street Blues
On some of the significant storylines on Hill Street Blues
08:13
Steven Bochco on the casting of Hill Street Blues and how the stars dealt with newfound celebrity
07:35

Chapter 6

On moving to 20th Century Fox and developing L.A. Law and how L.A. Law differed from his previous show, Hill Street Blues
07:50
On L.A. Law's storylines and his hiring of David E. Kelley
09:31
On the development of Hooperman
05:19
On being offered the presidency of CBS and meeting with William Paley 
05:41

Chapter 7

On creating and producing Doogie Howser, M.D. 
On creating and producing Cop Rock
On Civil Wars
On creating the animated series Capitol Critters
On creating and producing NYPD Blue
On The Byrds of Paradise
On producing Murder One
On producing Public Morals
00:55

Chapter 8

On the difficulties of producing Brooklyn South at the same time as NYPD Blue  
On producing City of Angels  
On producing Philly
On his proudest achievement in his career and pushing the envelope
On his advice to aspiring writers or producers
On concluding part 1 of his interview
00:10

Chapter 9

On the creation and development of L.A. Law 
07:25
On the casting of L.A. Law
On the writing of L.A. Law
On the 2001 L.A. Law reunion movie
On creating, casting and writing Doogie Howser, M.D.

Chapter 10

On creating the journal opening on Doogie Howser, M.D .
On leaving Doogie Howser, M.D . after 3 seasons
On creating and producing Cop Rock
04:09
On creating NYPD Blue with David Milch
On the pilot episode of NYPD Blue
On dealing with ABC on the boundaries for language and nudity on NYPD Blue
08:02
On the "Milch-speak" dialogue on NYPD Blue and his working relationship with David Milch
On NYPD Blue castmembers Nicholas Turturro and David Caruso
02:10

Chapter 11

On some of the castmembers of NYPD Blue
09:15
On some of the castmembers of NYPD Blu e [continued]
02:41
On the process of producing NYPD Blue
02:56
On how the events of 9/11 did not fundamentally alter NYPD Blue and what he thinks is the show's signature
02:47
On Public Morals, which lasted one episode
00:51
On the craft of writing and producing
10:30

Chapter 12

On the importance of music in his work
01:59
On budgeting, multitasking, and negotiating deals
On the project he was developing in 2002, NYPD 2069
00:59
On his views of television today and the mentors he's had in the business
03:19
On his advice to aspiring producers
02:04
Shows

Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theatre

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Steven Bochco on writing extra material to elongate a Rod Serling teleplay into movie-length
03:24

Brooklyn South

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Steven Bochco on the difficulties of producing Brooklyn South concurrently with NYPD Blue
02:52

Byrds of Paradise, The

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Steven Bochco on producing The Byrds of Paradise
00:44

Capitol Critters

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Steven Bochco on the animated series Capitol Critters
01:43

City of Angels (2000)

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Steven Bochco on producing City of Angels
04:04

Civil Wars

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Steven Bochco on creating and producing Civil Wars
01:48

Columbo

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Steven Bochco on writing for Columbo under producers Levinson and Link, and his thoughts on star Peter Falk
15:34

Cop Rock

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Steven Bochco on Cop Rock
01:36
Steven Bochco on creating and producing the short-lived musical drama series Cop Rock
04:09

Delvecchio

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Steven Bochco on co-producing Delvecchio
03:10

Doogie Howser, M.D.

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Steven Bochco on creating, casting and producing Doogie Howser, M.D.
05:13
Steven Bochco on the creation and development of Doogie Howser, M.D.
05:53
Steven Bochco on creating the journal opening for Doogie Howser, M.D., his vision for the series finale and leaving the show after 3 seasons
02:24

Griff

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Steven Bochco on his difficulty producing Griff
02:48

Hill Street Blues

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Steven Bochco on the creation of Hill Street Blues and his initial sparring with NBC for creative control
05:52
Steven Bochco on the development, style and production of Hill Street Blues
28:39
Steven Bochco on creating key elements of Hill Street Blues , including roll call, blackouts, and multi-episode story arcs
06:03
Steven Bochco on the creation of the iconic opening sequenc and theme song of Hill Street Blues
02:29
Steven Bochco on the pilot of Hill Street Blues and how it ultimately defined the series in terms of violence and consequence
02:42
Steven Bochco on not continuing to produce Hill Street Blues after being fired at MTM [briefly]
00:59

Hooperman

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Steven Bochco on the development of Hooperman
05:19

Ironside

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Steven Bochco on one of his early jobs writing additional material for Ironside
02:49

L.A. Law

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Steven Bochco on his pitch to NBC for L.A. Law
03:24
Steven Bochco on the initial development of L.A. Law
02:44
Steve Bochco on choosing Los Angeles for the locale of L.A. Law
02:56
Steven Bochco on the "civilized" atmosphere of L.A. Law
01:11
Steven Bocho on the introduction of "Jonathan Rollins" on L.A. Law and the benefits of being able to allow characters to evolve through the course of a series
05:05
Steven Bochco on hiring David E. Kelley as a story editor for L.A. Law
01:32
Steven Bochco on creating the "Venus Butterfly" episode of L.A. Law
01:39
Steven Bochco on creating and developing L.A. Law
07:25
Steven Bochco on casting L.A. Law
06:36
Steven Bochco on the writing process of L.A. Law
07:15
Steven Bochco on his frustration on the direction of L.A. Law after David E. Kelley left the helm
00:52

NYPD Blue

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Steven Bochco on creating, casting and producing NYPD Blue
13:08
Steven Bochco on why he chose to "push the envelope" on NYPD Blue
01:15
Steven Bochco on creating and producing NYPD Blue with David Milch 
06:11
Steven Bochco on dealing with ABC on the boundaries for language and nudity on NYPD Blue
08:02
Steven Bochco on the dialogue of NYPD Blue and working with David Milch
03:13
Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue castmembers Nicholas Turturro and David Caruso
02:10
Steven Bochco on negotiating with ABC's Bob Iger on the boundaries of nudity for NYPD Blue
06:01
Steven Bochco on his day-to-day role producing NYPD Blue
02:45

Name of the Game, The

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Steven Bochco on working on The Name of the Game
01:48

Paris

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Steven Bochco on Paris , his first production for MTM Enterprises
09:31

Philly

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Steven Bochco on producing Philly  
02:44

Police Tapes, The

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Steven Bochco on the influence of the 1976 documentary The Police Tapes on Hill Street Blues
01:29

Public Morals

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Steven Bochco on the show Public Morals [briefly]
00:55
Steven Bochco on the short-lived series, Public Morals
00:51

Richie Brockelman, Private Eye

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Steven Bochco on working with Stephen J. Cannell to produce Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
01:59

Six Million Dollar Man, The

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Steven Bochco on rewriting Howard Rodman's pilot script for The Six Million Dollar Man
02:08
Topics

9/11

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Steven Bochco on how the events of 9/11 did not fundamentally alter NYPD Blue
01:33

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Steven Bochco on negotiating how much language and nudity could appear on his series NYPD Blue
03:59
Steven Bochco on "pushing the envelope" on NYPD Blue
01:15
Steven Bochco on pushing the boundaries on NYPD Blue and the negotiating it entailed
08:02

Characters & Catchphrases

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue's "Detective Andy Sipowicz", played by Dennis Franz
01:29

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Steven Bochco on the creation of Hill Street Blues and his fight for creative control
05:47

Criticism of TV

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Steven Bochco on the difficulties of creating organic storytelling on television
04:40

Emmy Awards

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Steven Bochco on his 1971 Emmy nomination for Columbo -- complete with denim tux
02:38
Steven Bochco on NBC president Fred Silverman's prediction that Hill Street Blues would win the Emmy Award
01:01

Minorities

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Steven Bochco on City of Angels and the importance of the series' predominantly African-American cast and crew
04:04
Steven Bochco on adding the character of Jonathan Rollins (played by Blair Underwood) to diversify the fictional firm of L.A. Law

Studio and Network Management

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Steven Bochco describes joining MTM Enterprises in 1978
05:59
Steven Bochco on how MTM Enterprises changed after founder Grant Tinker moved to NBC
02:12

TV Theme Songs

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Steven Bochco on the importance of music to his series
01:59

We Cried

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Steven Bochco on portraying the death of "Sgt. Phil Esterhaus" after actor Michael Conrad dies during series production
02:01

We Laughed

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Steven Bochco on "The Venus Butterfly" episode of L.A. Law
01:39
Professions

Producers

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Steven Bochco on the responsibility of an executive producer
01:08

Show Creators

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Steven Bochco on his pitch to NBC for L.A. Law
03:24

Writers

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Steven Bochco on Richard Levinson's advice to him about writing for an actor like Peter Falk
01:07
Genres

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Steven Bochco on his early interest in portraying the private lives of cops
01:02
Steven Bochco on the casting of Hill Street Blues
03:18
Steven Bochco on the pilot of Hill Street Blues and how it ultimately defined the series in terms of violence and consequence
02:42
Steven Bochco on L.A. Law
13:38
Steven Bochco on the elements that defined NYPD Blue
13:20
Steven Bochco on Cop Rock
04:09
Steven Bochco on creating NYPD Blue
02:00

Drama Series

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Steven Bochco on City of Angels and the importance of the series' predominantly African-American cast and crew
04:04

Legal Dramas

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Steven Bochco on the legal drama Philly
02:45
Steven Bochco on creating compelling storytelling on L.A. Law
00:55

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Steven Bochco on Universal Television's approach to the NBC Mystery Movie "wheel" concept
02:57
People

Corbin Bernsen

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Steven Bochco on casting Corbin Bernsen as Arnie Becker on L.A. Law
00:41

Amy Brenneman

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue actress Amy Brenneman and the writing out of her character, "Officer Janice Licalsi"
01:15

Dan Burke

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Steven Bochco on ABC Cap Cities issues with NYPD Blue's pushing-the-envelope
08:02

Robert Butler

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Steven Bochco on director Robert Butler's work and vision on the pilot and first episodes of Hill Street Blues
01:29

Stephen J. Cannell

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Steven Bochco on working with Stephen Cannell on Richie Brockelman, Private Eye
03:23

David Caruso

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Steven Bochco on casting David Caruso on NYPD Blue and Caruso's eventual leaving of the series
15:13

Gordon Clapp

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue actor Gordon Clapp
00:52

Bill Clark

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Steven Bochco on ex-cop/consultant Bill Clark's work on NYPD Blue
01:12

Michael Conrad

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Steven Bochco on how elements of Michael Conrad's character on Delvecchio were used in Hill Street Blues
01:16
Steven Bochco on Michael Conrad's terminal illness and how his death was handled on Hill Street Blues
02:01

Bing Crosby

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Steven Bochco on how Bing Crosby was the original choice to play Columbo [briefly]
00:40

Larry Drake

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Steven Bochco on casting Larry Drake as Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law and making his character a regular
01:23

Richard Dysart

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Steven Bochco on casting Richard Dysart against type as Leland McKenzie on L.A. Law
00:56

Stuart Erwin

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Steven Bochco on Stu Erwin's hiring him at MTM Enterprises
01:57

Terry Louise FIsher

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Steven Bochco on developing L.A. Law with Terry Louise Fisher [briefly]
02:44
Steven Bochco on L.A. Law co-creator Terry Louise Fisher and their eventual falling-out
01:37

Peter Falk

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Steven Bochco on working with the eccentric star Peter Falk on Columbo
02:53

Dennis Franz

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Steven Bochco on he and David Milch casting Dennis Franz for NYPD Blue even before a script was written
00:30
Steven Bochco on what Dennis Franz meant to NYPD Blue
01:43
Steven Bochco on Dennis Franz's portrayal of Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue
01:29

Mark-Paul Gosselaar

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar
00:29

Lorne Greene

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Steven Bochco on producing Greene's series, Griff
02:48

Charles Haid

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Steven Bochco on casting (as a one-episode guest shot) Charles Haid as Officer Andy Renko on the Hill Street Blues pilot, which became a regular role for Haid
02:54

Veronica Hamel

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Steven Bochco on casting Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport on Hill Street Blues
00:49

Harry Hamlin

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Steven Bochco on casting Harry Hamlin in L.A. Law
01:02

Neil Patrick Harris

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Steven Bochco on creating Doogie Howser, M.D. and how the network did not want Neil Patrick Harris in the title role
05:13
Steven Bochco on casting Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Howser
00:39

Gregory Hoblit

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Steven Bochco on hiring Gregory Hoblit on Hill Street Blues
01:11
Steven Bochco on director Gregory Hoblit's opening sequence shot in Chicago for Hill Street Blues
02:29
Steven Bochco on director Gregory Hoblit's camera style on NYPD Blue
00:59
Steven Bochco on director Gregory Hoblit's style for NYPD Blue
02:16

Bob Iger

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Steven Bochco on negotiating with ABC's Bob Iger on the boundaries of nudity on NYPD Blue
08:02

Dick Irving

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Steven Bochco on Universal director Dick Irving's promise not to yell if Bochco agreed to produce
02:24

James Earl Jones

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Steven Bochco on working with James Earl Jones on Paris
07:16

David E. Kelley

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Steven Bochco on hiring David E. Kelley as a story editor for L.A. Law
01:32
Steven Bochco on how he felt the quality of L.A. Law diminished after David E. Kelley left the series [briefly]
00:52

Michael Kozoll

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Steven Bochco on working with co-creator Michael Kozoll in the creation of Hill Street Blues
05:47

Richard Levinson

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Steven Bochco on working with creators/producers Richard (Dick) Levinson and William (Bill) Link on Columbo
14:12

William Link

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Steven Bochco on working with creators/producers Richard (Dick) Levinson and William (Bill) Link on Columbo
14:12

James McDaniel

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue actor James McDaniel, who played "Lt. Fancy"
01:08

David Milch

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Steven Bochco on David Milch's trying to convince him not to hire David Caruso for NYPD Blue
15:13
Steven Bochco on creating NYPD Blue with David Milch
06:11
Steven Bochco on "Milch-speak" and working with David Milch on NYPD Blue
03:13
Steven Bochco on David Milch's writing on race relationships on NYPD Blue as being the best in TV history
01:08

Leslie Moonves

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Steven Bochco on CBS' Les Moonves buying and quickly canceling the series Public Morals
00:51

Randy Newman

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Steven Bochco on Cop Rock, where Randy Newman composed many of the series' songs
04:09

William S. Paley

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Steven Bochco on being offered the presidency of CBS and meeting with William Paley in the late-1980s
05:41

Mike Post

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Steven Bochco on the genesis of Mike Post's theme song for Hill Street Blues
02:29
Steven Bochco on Cop Rock, where Mike Post supervised the music
04:09
Steven Bochco on the musical contributions of Mike Post to his shows
01:59

Frank Price

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Steven Bochco on Frank Price hiring him for Ironside, and their later working difficulties
02:00

Howard Rodman

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Steven Bochco on rewriting Howard Rodman's pilot script for The Six Million Dollar Man
02:08

William Sackheim

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Steven Bochco on working on Delvecchio scripts with Bill Sackheim
03:10
Steven Bochco on Bill Sackheim's advice to him about being a producer
02:46
Steven Bochco on William Sackheim's influence on his work
01:23

Rick Schroder

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue actor Rick Schroder
00:46

David Schwimmer

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Steven Bochco on David Schwimmer's pre-Friends appearance on the pilot of NYPD Blue
01:15

Fred Silverman

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Steven Bochco on Fred Silverman providing the genesis for Hill Street Blues [briefly]
05:47
Steven Bochco on NBC president Fred Silverman's prediction that Hill Street Blues would be a hit
01:01

Jimmy Smits

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Steven Bochco on casting Jimmy Smits as Victor Sifuentes in L.A. Law
00:20
Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue actor Jimmy Smits
01:35

Steven Spielberg

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Steven Bochco on befriending Steven Spielberg early in both of their careers [briefly]
02:38

Sherry Stringfield

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Steven Bochco on NYPD Blue's Sherry Stringfield and his dismay at the way she left the series
00:43

Brandon Tartikoff

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Steven Bochco on working with Brandon Tartikoff during the development of L.A. Law
03:34
Steven Bochco on Brandon Tartikoff's role in greenlighting L.A. Law
05:48

Grant Tinker

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Steven Bochco on Grant Tinker's management style at MTM Enterprises
01:57
Steven Bochco on how MTM Enterprises changed after Grant TInker moved to NBC
02:12
Steven Bochco on NBC head Grant Tinker's role in the development of L.A. Law
05:48

Laurence A. Tisch

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Steven Bochco on being offered the presidency of CBS and Larry Tisch's presence at his meeting with William Paley
05:41

Daniel J. Travanti

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Steven Bochco on the casting of Daniel J. Travanti as Frank Furillo on Hill Street Blues
01:47

Blair Underwood

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Steven Bochco on casting Blair Underwood as Jonathan Rollins on L.A. Law
01:20

Bruce Weitz

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Steven Bochco on Bruce Weitz's wild audition for the role of Sgt. Mick Belker on Hill Street Blues
00:58

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