Bochco's new beat: black TV drama

A hospital drama has been waiting to come out of Steven Bochco's creative incubator for a long time, says the writer, whom many credit with bringing respectability to modern television.

He has been responsible for some of the medium's most-influential prime-time hours - "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue," to name two. His efforts are usually well worth waiting for, "Cop Rock" notwithstanding.

Bochco's newest show, "City of Angels" (premires Sunday on CBS, 8-9 p.m.; see review, page 17), notably features an African-American lead in a season that has been attacked for being disproportionately white. This pressure doesn't faze the maestro.

"I hope I'm not being naive when I reiterate my feeling that, if we make a really good show that is compelling and funny and engaging, that the color of the characters is going to very, very quickly recede in importance," says Bochco.

This show is not his first run at depicting the black experience. The writer, who says he grew up in the racially mixed neighborhoods of New York City, was one of the first to build a show around an African-American.

Indeed, his debut effort on CBS in 1979, "Paris," starred James Earl Jones. His current leading man for "City of Angels," Michael Warren, worked on that first show and calls Bochco a singular talent.

"I've always felt that if there was one person who could make a show work where it presented minorities as human beings, it was Steven," adds the actor.

The show will explore many themes, says Bochco, also producer for the new series. "You're going to see a multiplicity of issues. You're going to see women issues, you're going to see black issues, you're going to see medical issues," he says. "You're going to see political issues, and you're going to see them done in a way that perhaps you haven't seen them done because we're the ones who are playing the parts."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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