Steven Ronald Bochco (December 16, 1943 – April 1, 2018) was a television producer and writer. He developed a number of television series, including Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D., and NYPD Blue.
Bochco in 1994
Steven Ronald Bochco
December 16, 1943
New York City, U.S.
|Died||April 1, 2018 (aged 74)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||Carnegie Mellon University (BFA)|
|Occupation||Television producer, writer|
(m. 1964; divorce 1969)
(m. 1970; div. 1997)
(m. 2000; his death 2018)
|Children||2, including Jesse|
Bochco was born to a Jewish family in New York City, the son of Mimi, a painter, and Rudolph Bochco, a concert violinist. He was educated in Manhattan at the High School of Music and Art. His elder sister is actress Joanna Frank.
In 1961, he enrolled at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (after merging with the Mellon Institute in 1967, now known as Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh to study playwriting and theater. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theater in 1966, having also had an MCA Writing Fellowship.
Bochco went to work for Universal Pictures as a writer and then story editor on Ironside, Columbo, McMillan & Wife, and the short-lived Lorne Greene and Ben Murphy series, Griff, as well as Delvecchio and The Invisible Man.
He wrote the story and teleplay for the Columbo episode "Murder by the Book" (1971), and the teleplays for several other episodes. He wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film The Counterfeit Killer and worked on Silent Running (1972) and Double Indemnity (1973). He left Universal in 1978 to go to MTM Enterprises where he had greater scope for producing. His first effort there was the short-lived CBS police drama Paris, notable as the first series on which James Earl Jones played a lead role.
He achieved major success for NBC with the police drama Hill Street Blues. It ran from 1981 to 1987 and Bochco was credited as co-creator, also writing and producing. The series also garnered considerable critical acclaim and many awards, and was nominated for a total of 98 Emmy Awards throughout its run. Bochco was fired from MTM in 1985 following the failure of Bay City Blues (1983).
Bochco moved to 20th Century Fox where he co-created and produced L.A. Law (1986–94) which aired on NBC. This series was also widely acclaimed and a regular award winner. In 1987, Bochco co-created the half-hour dramedy Hooperman which starred John Ritter but was canceled after two seasons, despite Bochco offering to take over direct day-to-day control of a third season. Hooperman was part of a lucrative deal with ABC in 1987 to create and produce ten new television series, which prompted Bochco to form Steven Bochco Productions.[a] From this deal came Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989–93) and Cop Rock (1990). The latter combined straight police drama with live-action Broadway singing and dancing, and was one of his highest-profile failures. In 1992, Bochco created an animated television series, Capitol Critters, along with Nat Mauldin and Michael Wagner.
After a lull, Bochco co-created NYPD Blue (1993–2005) with David Milch. Initially controversial at the time, the series was created with the express intention of changing the nature of network one-hour drama to compete with the more adult fare broadcast on cable networks. The spring 1994 television schedule on ABC presented the only run of a television series executive produced by Bochco, The Byrds of Paradise. The Byrds of Paradise showcased a plot structure that was an early forerunner in presenting a more realistic, and not idealized, representation of character development in the primetime television format, but it aired for only one season, and has yet to be re-aired on television. Although The Byrds of Paradise achieved significant critical acclaim during its initial run, and helped launch the careers of actors Seth Green and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the show has never received an official release on any home video format or streaming media platform. Other projects in this period that failed to take off include Murder One (1995–97), Brooklyn South (1997), City of Angels (2000), Philly (2001), and Over There (2005). All five shows failed to match Bochco's earlier success though Murder One and Over There garnered critical praise.
In 2005, Bochco took charge of Commander in Chief (2005–06), created by Rod Lurie, and brought in a new writing team. However, in spring 2006, he left the show because of conflicts with ABC, and shortly afterward the program was canceled. Bochco described his experience on the show as "horrible". In 2006 Bochco produced a pilot for an ABC show, Hollis & Rae, and was reported at the same time to be developing a baseball drama and another legal drama for ABC in partnership with Chris Gerolmo.
It was announced in March 2007 that Bochco had taken his first steps into internet TV with the 44-episode Cafe Confidential, each episode being 60-seconds of unscripted "confessions" by members of the public. Yet another legal drama titled Raising the Bar was produced for TNT, this time in partnership with David Feige, although it was cancelled in December 2009 during the second season.
According to an interview with Bochco published in September 2007, he was winding down his involvement with network television, feeling that his tastes and current fashions in TV drama no longer coincide. "The network executives stay the same age and I keep getting older and it creates a different kind of relationship. When I was doing my stuff at NBC with Brandon [Tartikoff] and Hill Street, we were contemporaries," says Bochco. "When I sit down [now], they're sitting in a room with someone who's old enough to be their father and I'm not sure they want to sit in a room with their fathers."
In 2008, Bochco argued that the new home for quality prime time drama is cable, where "the atmosphere is far friendlier and the creative environment more conducive to doing original work", and that "most of what's passing for primetime drama these days isn't very good".
Prior to Hill Street Blues it was rare for American straight drama series to have story arcs, i.e. several stories running over many episodes (with the exception of prime time soap operas such as Dallas). It was also rare to have a large regular cast. The structure of the modern "ensemble" television drama can be traced to Bochco, who many regard as having changed the "language" of television drama.
In 1970, he married actress Barbara Bosson. They had two children before divorcing in 1997. He married Dayna Kalins on August 12, 2000. His son, Jesse Bochco, by Bosson, was a producer/director on NYPD Blue and directed the pilot episode of Raising the Bar. Jesse Bochco also appeared as Captain Furillo's son, Frank Jr. (with Bosson playing his mother) on Hill Street Blues. Jesse has directed several episodes of his father's shows, including NYPD Blue, Philly, and Over There.
In addition to these awards, Bochco has earned induction into the Television Hall of Fame, which he achieved in 1996.
Bay City Blues is an American comedy-drama series that aired on NBC from October to November 1983. The series stars Michael Nouri, Dennis Franz, and Pat Corley, and was created and produced by Steven Bochco. Eight episodes were produced, but only four were aired prior to its cancellation.Blind Justice (TV series)
Blind Justice was an American crime drama created by Steven Bochco about a blind New York City police detective. It was introduced mid-season in March 8, 2005, to fill the time slot left by Bochco's highly successful NYPD Blue, which had just aired its final episode after a 12-year run. The show ran for only one season, with 13 episodes broadcast.Capitol Critters
Capitol Critters is an animated television series about the lives of mice, rats, and roaches who reside in the basement and walls of the White House in Washington, D.C. The series was produced by Steven Bochco Productions and Hanna-Barbera Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ABC, which aired seven out of the show's 13 episodes from January 31 to March 14, 1992. Cartoon Network later aired all 13 episodes in 1995. The series was part of a spate of attempts by major networks to develop prime time animated shows to compete with the success of Fox's The Simpsons, alongside CBS's Fish Police and Family Dog. The latter two, along with Capitol Critters, proved unsuccessful and were quickly cancelled.Charles H. Eglee
Charles H. Eglee (born November 27, 1951) is an American film and television screenwriter and producer. He worked extensively for Steven Bochco productions throughout the 1990s. For Bochco productions he co-created Byrds of Paradise with frequent collaborator Channing Gibson and co-created Murder One with Gibson and Bochco. Eglee co-created the series Dark Angel with James Cameron.
He was a writer and executive producer on The Shield and Dexter. He served as a member of the production team behind the adaptation of The Walking Dead.City of Angels (2000 TV series)
City of Angels is an American medical drama television series which ran for two seasons on CBS during the 2000 calendar year. It was network television's first medical drama with a predominantly African American cast.Cop Rock
Cop Rock was an American musical police drama series that aired on ABC in 1990. The show, a police drama presented as a musical, was co-created by Steven Bochco, who also served as executive producer. TV Guide ranked it #8 on TV Guide's List of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list in 2002. The periodical dubbed it "the single most bizarre TV musical of all time".David Milch
David Sanford Milch (born March 23, 1945) is an American writer and producer of television series. He has created several television shows, including NYPD Blue (co-created with Steven Bochco) and Deadwood.Doogie Howser, M.D.
Doogie Howser, M.D. is an American medical comedy-drama television series that ran for four seasons on ABC from September 19, 1989, to March 24, 1993, totaling 97 episodes. Created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley, the show stars Neil Patrick Harris in the title role as a teenage physician who balances the challenge of practicing medicine with the everyday problems of teenage life.Hooperman
Hooperman is an American comedy-drama series which aired on ABC from September 23, 1987 until July 26, 1989. The show centered on the professional and personal life of San Francisco police Inspector Harry Hooperman, played by John Ritter. The series was created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, who were the team responsible for creating L.A. Law. Though not the first comedy-drama — in fact, the long-running M*A*S*H, which could also be categorized as one, had the highest-rated TV episode of all time with its series finale just four years earlier — Hooperman was considered the vanguard of a new television genre when it premiered, and critics coined the term "dramedy" to describe it.Jeff Lewis (writer)
Jeffrey Jeff Lewis is an American screenwriter, best known for his work with Hill Street Blues. He earned 8 Emmy Award nominations as a writer and one win as well as 8 Writers Guild of America Award nominations, including 1 win as a writer, all for Hill Street Blues. He was a Yale University roommate with David Milch and recruited him to join Hill Street Blues staff.L.A. Law
L.A. Law is an American television legal drama series that ran for eight seasons on NBC, from September 15, 1986 to May 19, 1994.Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, it contained many of Bochco's trademark features including an ensemble cast, large number of parallel storylines, social drama, and off-the-wall humor. It reflected the social and cultural ideologies of the 1980s and early 1990s, and many of the cases featured on the show dealt with hot-topic issues such as capital punishment, abortion, racism, gay rights, homophobia, sexual harassment, AIDS, and domestic violence. The series often also reflected social tensions between the wealthy senior lawyer protagonists and their less well-paid junior staff.
In addition to its main cast, L.A. Law was also well known for featuring then relatively unknown actors and actresses in guest starring roles, who later went on to greater success in film and television including Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Tambor, Kathy Bates, David Schwimmer, Jay O. Sanders, James Avery, Gates McFadden, Bryan Cranston, C.C.H. Pounder, Kevin Spacey, Richard Schiff, Carrie-Anne Moss, William H. Macy, Stephen Root, Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi and Lucy Liu. Several episodes of the show also included celebrities such as Vanna White, Buddy Hackett, and Mamie Van Doren appearing as themselves in cameo roles.
The show was popular with audiences and critics, and won 15 Emmy Awards throughout its run, four of which were for Outstanding Drama Series.Murder in the First (TV series)
Murder in the First is an American detective anthology drama television series that airs on TNT. The series was created by Steven Bochco and Eric Lodal, and stars Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson. Set in San Francisco, the show follows a single case across an entire season. The series aired for three seasons from June 9, 2014, to September 4, 2016.
On October 11, 2016, TNT canceled the series of Murder in the First after three seasons.NYPD Blue (season 1)
NYPD Blue is an American television police drama set in New York City, exploring the internal and external struggles of the fictional 15th precinct detective squad in Manhattan. Each episode typically intertwined several plots involving an ensemble cast.
Season 1 aired as part of the 1993–94 United States network television schedule for ABC, premiering on 21 September 1993 and concluding on 17 May 1994. The show's first season led to a record 26 Emmy nominations and six awards.Paris (1979 TV series)
Paris is an American television series that appeared on the CBS television network from September 29, 1979 to January 15, 1980. A crime drama, the show is notable as the first-ever appearance of actor James Earl Jones in a lead role on television and was created by Steven Bochco, who also served as executive producer.
The program told the story of Los Angeles Police Captain Woody Paris (Jones), who supervised a team of young detectives. The rookie investigators were led by Sergeant Stacy Erickson (Cecilia Hart) and included officers Charlie Bogart (Jake Mitchell), Ernesto Villas (Frank Ramirez), and Willie Miller (Michael Warren). Hank Garrett portrayed Deputy Chief Jerome Bench, Paris' superior, and, in an unusual turn for police dramas of that era, Paris' home and off-duty life was given considerable attention in the plots, with Lee Chamberlin playing his wife, Barbara. Paris was also shown moonlighting as a professor of criminology at a local university.
Although Paris was critically acclaimed for its portrayal of the tension between the professional Paris character and his often impetuous underlings, CBS scheduled the show in one of the worst possible timeslots on a weekly schedule: Saturdays at 10 p.m./9 Central. All three networks debuted new shows for the 1979–80 season in that slot; only ABC's Hart to Hart survived its first 13 weeks. Toward the end of its run, CBS moved it to Tuesdays at 10/9, but to no avail. Edward DeBlasio produced the show for MTM Enterprises, which would unveil, during the next season, executive producer Bochco's landmark Hill Street Blues on NBC (in fact, Warren would join that show's cast as Officer Bobby Hill).
Some years after Paris was cancelled, Jones and co-star Cecilia Hart married; she died of ovarian cancer in 2016.Philly (TV series)
Philly is an American television series created by Steven Bochco that focused on criminal defense attorney Kathleen Maguire (Kim Delaney). It lasted a full season (2001–2002) and was canceled due to low ratings. The final episode was advertised heavily as the series finale, a move not commonly used in network promotion for a series lasting only one season.Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series is an award presented annually by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). It was first awarded at the 7th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, held in 1955 and it is given in honor of a writer or writers who produced an outstanding story or screenplay for an episode of a television drama series during the primetime network season. Undergoing several name changes, the award received its current title at the 48th Primetime Emmy Awards in 1996.
Since its inception, the award has been presented to 74 writers. Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg are the current recipients of the award for their work on the episode of FX's The Americans titled "START". Rod Serling holds the record for most wins for this category at six. The Sopranos also hold the record for most wins and nominations for this category at six and 21, respectively.Raising the Bar (2008 TV series)
Raising the Bar is an American legal drama created by Steven Bochco and David Feige, which ran on TNT network from September 1, 2008 to December 24, 2009.TCA Career Achievement Award
The TCA Career Achievement Award is an award given by the Television Critics Association. The Career Achievement Award annually honors an individual who has inspired his or her work in television. In 2014, director James Burrows became the 30th recipient of the award.
Television series created or produced by Steven Bochco
BAFTA Fellowship recipients
Writers Guild of America Award for Television: Episodic Drama (1980–1989)
Television Hall of Fame Class of 1996