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Emmys 2017
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Article

TOO BLUE?

STEVEN BOCHCO’S NEW SERIES IS PUSHING PRIME TIME TO THE LIMITS

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If nothing else, the reports of R-rated sex, foul language, and crotch grabbing in Steven Bochco’s NYPD Blue almost guarantee the new drama a 30 share when it debuts on ABC this fall. But the Emmy-winning producer is under increasing pressure from network affiliates, advertisers, and conservative groups to trim scenes that boldly go where no prime-time series has gone before. Predictably, right-wing watchdog the Rev. Donald Wildmon’s newspaper ads condemning the show have generated the most press, but Wildmon’s attacks aren’t as troubling to the network as the criticism from within. After seeing 20 minutes of the pilot at an affiliates conference, Neil Klockziem of Colorado Springs’ KRDO-TV says, ”Many (felt) that NYPD Blue was not airable.” Advertisers are equally skittish over such moments as: *Star Dennis Franz (Hill Street Blues) grabbing his crotch. *Squad room and barroom exchanges that include words like douche bag and dick head. *Two long, lingering sex scenes that feature glimpses of a woman’s breasts, her bare buttocks, and as much writhing as you would see in a Sharon Stone film. ”They took 12 steps on an 11-step pier,” says William Croasdale, of Western International Media, the nation’s largest ad buyer. Adds entertainment analyst Paul Schulman: ”Advertisers are fearful of the letters. If they were to reduce the visuals in the sex scenes, everything would be all right.” Will Bochco edit the series? ”I’m thinking about it,” says the producer, who has been a proponent of network TV’s need to push the envelope. He’s also not above pushing the boundaries to goose the ratings-remember Mariel Hemingway’s nude scene on Civil Wars? Currently, he insists that any changes- and he won’t speculate on what they’d be-will be ”minor,” so subtle that ”you won’t notice them.” He says the problem is the ABC brass can’t agree on what to excise. ”I’ve spoken to everybody in a necktie at ABC,” says Bochco. ”No one seems to be able to form a consensus.” Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising senior vice president Betsy Frank thinks Bochco will have to give a little. He hasn’t had a hit since Doogie Howser, M.D. and he’s not likely to jeopardize the series. ”I’m not so sure that the show we’re seeing will be the show that will ultimately be on the air,” says Frank. ”He’s not stupid.”

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