''NYPD Blue'' cocreator David Milch brings ''Big Apple'' to CBS

By Liane Bonin
March 05, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Big Apple: CBS
  • TV Show

After seven seasons, ”NYPD Blue” cocreator David Milch left behind Sipowicz and the rest of ABC’s butt baring crew to create a new drama for CBS. But even though Milch is working for a new network, he isn’t abandoning his Noo Yawk cop roots with ”Big Apple” (debuts Thurs., March 1, 10 p.m.).

This time around Milch has recruited a veteran cast (”L.A. Confidential”’s David Strathairn and ”Reservoir Dogs”’ Michael Madsen) to explore what happens when two NYPD detectives (Ed O’Neill of ”Married…With Children” and newcomer Jeffrey Pierce) find themselves pulled into an FBI sting operation. Milch talked to EW.com about his ”Blue” burnout, facing off against ”ER” on Thursday nights, and why David Caruso has a better shot at a guest starring gig than he knows.

So, ”NYPD Blue,” ”Big Apple,” what’s the difference? And don’t say Rick Schroder.
”Big Apple” is about the turf wars between the NYPD and the FBI in New York City, and it’s specifically about two NYPD detectives who get deputized by the FBI while they’re investigating a murder. The FBI has an interest in them not solving the case, because one of their informants is involved. And the story also follows the criminals involved in the case.

Will this one case span the entire first season?
Yes, it’s kind of a real time approach. On ”NYPD Blue,” Bill Clark [a ”Blue” coproducer and NYPD detective for 25 years] and I prided ourselves on the realism of the police work — with the exception of having to collapse the investigations into one episode. And we don’t have to do that on this show, which is a huge advantage in terms of storytelling.

”NYPD Blue” fans will fully expect you to get smutty on this show, too. How will you push the envelope?
It has less to do with pushing the envelope and more to do with the degree of realism that’s required to tell the story credibly. That entails a certain amount of raw language and sexual content. It’s not going to be sexually explicit, but sex is in the air, as the saying goes.

Are you shaking in your boots about going up against ”ER”?
I’m the last person to ask about those geopolitical questions. It would be silly to say that ”ER” is an aging show, since it’s clearly at the top of its popularity. The programmers at CBS must have taken that into account [as to] what their expectations are for the ratings we’re going to do. There are some things you can control and some things you can’t. I just try to hit the ball straight. But I’m going to be very surprised if we win our time slot, I’ll tell you that much.

Though ”NYPD Blue” was a huge success for you, your next cop series ”Brooklyn South” didn’t fare as well. What did you learn from that?
”Brooklyn South” was a show that, frankly, I had no business working on. ”NYPD Blue” is a very jealous mistress, and ”South” was being shot at different studio 45 minutes away. It wasn’t my idea to do the show, but it certainly was my prerogative to say maybe we want to wait, and I didn’t, and both shows suffered. I was spread too thin, and it failed because of hubris on my part and on the part of some other people as well.

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  • 03/01/01
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