“Steven Bochco, the strong-willed writer and producer who brought gritty realism and sprawling ensemble casts to the small screen with such iconic series as ‘Hill Street Blues,’ ‘L.A. Law’ and ‘NYPD Blue,’ died Sunday morning,” at age 74, writes Mike Barnes for The Hollywood Reporter.
Bochco had been fighting leukemia since 2014.
A 10-time Primetime Emmy Award winner, Bochco was “also was behind the Neil Patrick Harris ABC comedy-drama ‘Doogie Howser, M.D.’ and the TNT drama ‘Murder in the First,'” notes THR.
The story adds, “A New York City native who began at Universal Studios in the mid-1960s, Bochco time and time again refused to bend to network chiefs or standards and practices execs, thus earning rare creative control during his five decades of envelope-pushing work.”
Gary Levin and Kim Willis in USA Today observe, “Bochco, whose early writing jobs included the detective series ‘Columbo,’ was an influential writer/producer of TV staples, police and legal dramas, especially in the 1980s and ’90s. ‘Hill Street,’ which ran from 1981 to 1987, reinvented contemporary ensemble drama, with its handheld cameras, serialized storytelling and richly developed characters.
Dade Hayes at Deadline.com writes, “Building on the complex depictions of the workaday ambiguities of police work he established in ‘Hill Street’ a decade earlier, ‘NYPD Blue’ brought a bolder, more in-your-face tone. No character or actor personified that more than Andy Sipowicz, the complicated detective played by Dennis Franz in a turn that brought him four Emmys. From the pilot of the show to its finale 12 seasons later, it continually pushed the boundaries of decency in skirmishes that might seem almost quaint by today’s standards.”
CNN’s Brian Lowry, in a piece for Variety, notes, “Beyond his own career, Bochco helped shepherd along those of several other prominent writers, hiring David Milch on ‘Hill Street’ and enlisting David E. Kelley — then a Boston lawyer — to work on ‘L.A. Law.'”
Lowry also says that “Bochco’s association with the business extended to his family. His second wife, Barbara Bosson, co-starred in ‘Hill Street Blues,’ and his sister, Joanna Frank, had a recurring role on ‘L.A. Law’ as the wife of firm partner Douglas Brackman, played by her real-life husband (and thus Bochco’s brother-in-law), Alan Rachins. The producer later married Dayna Kalins, a TV executive. His son, Jesse, became a prominent director, working on many of his father’s shows.
“Bochco was thrice married, the first time to Gabrielle Levin, the second to Bosson.
“He is survived by his third wife Dayna Kalins, whom he married in 2000, as well children Melissa Bochco, Jesse Bochco and Sean Flanagan, and two grandchildren.”
One of the keys to Bochco’s success was his enthusiasm and determination to try new things. In 1990, that meant “Cop Rock,” a musical police drama series. It turned out to be one of the most famous failures in TV history. Bochco, who was reminded of it constantly, said it was the most fun he ever had working on a TV series.
Here, in this clip we found on YouTube from the Television Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television, Bochco talks about “Cop Rock”: