How will former child star Rick Schroder fare as the new lead on "NYPD Blue"?
When Rick Schroder takes Jimmy Smits’ place as one of the leads of “NYPD Blue” next season, his new job will entail gunplay, profanity, and the occasional nude scene — none of which was required in his last series leading role (at age 12) in 1982’s “Silver Spoons.” “NYPD Blue”‘s producers worried at first that Schroder’s past image as a cherubic child star might be an issue with viewers of the gritty cop show. “But he did a fine job in the casting session, and he’s certainly credible as a detective,” says coexecutive producer Bill Clark. “He played good with Dennis, and that’s what got him the part.” Smits will say farewell on the season’s fifth episode, and Schroder, 28, will first appear on the sixth, as a new detective assigned to be Dennis Franz’s partner.
Casting a young actor instead of a peer of Franz’s — like Smits and first-season partner David Caruso — could be an attempt to shake up the show and lure in a fading audience: “NYPD Blue” had a 14% ratings drop this season (following a 12% decline the year before). Schroder will certainly pique viewer curiosity. “The choice is a big surprise,” says Entertainment Weekly television critic Bruce Fretts. “They could have had just about any TV actor they wanted, and nobody expected the kid from ‘Silver Spoons’ to get the gig. The producers must have seen something in him that we haven’t seen yet.”