If you’re a TV writer, odds are that you know who Steven Bochco was and are aware of his death from leukemia April 1st. The New York Times, which in many ways might be regarded as the Supreme Obituary Publisher in the United States has the complete story HERE
Bochco’s importance as a television writer and producer cannot be exaggerated. In the words of TVWriter™’s Larry Brody, “He was the most innovative and successful overall TV storyteller of his lifetime.” The following write-up in The Guardian shows that his influence on the medium we love to hate is worldwide. We at TVWriter™ hope you’ll read it:
Steven Bochco obituary
by Michael Carlson
“Armed robbery in progress, see Surplus Store corner of People’s Drive and 124th street.” It is hard to overstate the excitement in viewers when those words opened each episode of Hill Street Blues. Its creator, Steven Bochco, who has died of cancer aged 73, was arguably the most influential producer of television drama of the past half-century. Hill Street Blues, his first major success, changed the very nature of cop shows.
It influenced all episodic drama; in its wake came St Elsewhere, which was conceived as Hill Street Blues in a hospital and spawned Casualty in Britain. Among Bochco’s later hits were LA Law, Doogie Howser, MD, and most notably NYPD Blue, which marked an effort by network television to capture the more adult territory being claimed by cable’s episodic drama.
Bochco was notable not only for his creativity as a writer and producer, but for his ability to navigate the ruthless business side of Hollywood. “In the end, it’s not about writing or producing,” he said. “It’s about selling.” Working with Bochco was the spur to many careers in television for writer-producers, notably David Milch (Deadwood) and David E Kelley (Ally McBeal).
Bochco was born in New York, where his father, Rudolph, a Russian immigrant, was a concert violinist. His mother, Mimi (nee Nathanson), emigrated from Lithuania when she was 14; her son described her as “an artist, designer and hustler”. Steven specialised in singing at the High School of Music and Art, then after a year at New York University transferred to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now part of Carnegie-Mellon University) where he studied theatre. Among his classmates were Charles Haid, Bruce Weitz, Michael Tucker and Barbara Bosson, all of whom would act in his shows; Bosson would become his second wife.