‘NYPD Blue’ at 25: Dennis Franz, Amy Brenneman, Gordon Clapp Reflect on Legacy


By Scott Huver

Twenty-five years ago, audiences were captivated by a most arresting and original spin on a TV staple — the police drama. Steven Bochco, who was already well-known as one of television’s chief innovators and reinventors thanks to high-quality series like “Paris,” “L.A. Law” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.”, co-created “NYPD Blue.” This was his second reinvention of the genre (he was also responsible for “Hill Street Blues”), but in teaming up with David Milch the envelope was pushed even farther.

Not only would “NYPD Blue” pioneer a grittier, more frenetic storytelling style with the use of regularly jerky and very verite handheld camera, it would challenge long-established broadcast network limits regarding violence, nudity and four-letter words. Of course, the road for such a disruptive new approach would not be an easy one, with high drama playing out both among the opposition to the game-changing series and within its own ranks before it finally debuted on ABC on Sept. 21, 1993.

Here, three of “NYPD Blue’s” first-season standouts, Dennis Franz (Det. Andy Sipowicz), Gordon Clapp (Det. Greg Medavoy) and Amy Brenneman (Officer Janice Licalsi), recall the tumultuous journey to launch a TV upstart that would ultimately become an institution.

Amy Brenneman: I had worked out in LA a little bit, but I was back in New York playing “St. Joan” at Yale Rep. And my agents in LA were like, “You’re insane — you can’t do a play! It’s pilot season.” And I was like “But it’s St. Joan! I have to play St. Joan! [Casting director] Alexa Fogel, who had been an early champion of mine, said “There’s this one, and if you can come in…” I was actually brought in to play Sherry Stringfield’s part, and I totally loused up the lines — and didn’t really care, because I just was sort of sassy that way, And I famously turned to David Milch, completely joking, and said, “You know, if I’m gonna play this, really, you’re gonna have to change these lines. I can’t get them.” I meant it as a total joke, and of course they were like, “That’s our girl: she’s the one that should kill people in the pilot.”

Read this full article at: www.Variety.com

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