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For Memorial Day weekend, we're revisiting our conversation with showrunner Steven Bochco. With his groundbreaking series Hill Street Blues, LA Law and NYPD Blue,  writer-producer Bochco consistently pushed the limits of what could be said and done on broadcast television. Along the way, he dealt with more than a few headaches--from disruptive actors to litigious executives to heads broadcast standards departments. He isn't afraid to tell those tales in his new memoir, Truth is a Total Defense. Bochco recounts battles big and small -- including a legal brawl with Rupert Murdoch and the firing of an actor with very particular bathroom habits. Plus, an all new banter about the reversals of fortune at cable news and late night. 

Photo: Television writer-producer Steven Bochco on the cover of his memoir, Truth is a Total Defense

Hollywood news banter 6 MIN, 26 SEC

Matt Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, joins Kim Masters to discuss top entertainment news stories of the week.

  • When it comes to late night ratings, Stephen Colbert has officially come out ahead of Jimmy Fallon, in terms of total viewers. It’s a shocking turnaround, especially considering how long Fallon had dominated late night and how much Colbert struggled when he first took over as the host of the Late Show on CBS. He found his footing taking on Trump, and in return, got a major ratings boost.
  • In other surprising ratings news, Fox News fell to third place for the first time in 17 years, and MSNBC took the number-one cable news spot for the first time ever. Again, Trump is the reason. As the president continues to generate more stories, liberal viewers turn to people like Rachel Maddow for analysis, while Fox News has neglected to cover some of the stories at all.
  • Among all the turnover at Fox News in the past year, the last of the on-air old guard is Sean Hannity. Now, his future looks uncertain as well. While he continues to pursue conspiracy theories around the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, advertisers are bowing to pressure and dropping out of his show. Hannity now heads out on vacation, but Fox News says he will be back.

Matthew Belloni, Hollywood Reporter (@THRMattBelloni)

Steven Bochco: Truth Is a Total Defense 20 MIN, 41 SEC

Early episodes of the gritty, groundbreaking series Hill Street Blues opened with Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, played by Michael Conrad, holding a morning briefing for a bunch of rowdy Hill Street cops. He'd end his roll call with the signature line, "Let's be careful out there."

Unlike the procedurals of the time, Hill Street Blues featured a huge cast with interlocking storylines that unfolded over multiple episodes.

While not an instant ratings hit, Hill Street Blues helped reverse the fortunes of NBC, then in last place among the major networks, and became part of its formidable Thursday-night Must-See-TV lineup. In its first year, the series received an historic 21 Emmy nominations and won eight. Our guest today, Hill Street Blues co-creator Steven Bochco, picked up two of those, for outstanding drama and outstanding writing for the 1981 pilot episode.

Following his time on Hill Street, Bochco produced dozens of shows, including LA Law, Doogie Howser M.D., and NYPD Blue, which was a signature hit for ABC and ended up breaking the Emmy record set by Hill Street.

Bochco recounts his decades in television in the new memoir Truth is a Total Defense. We recently sat down with him in his office in Santa Monica and talked about battles with actors, dealing with a writing partner addicted to gambling, fighting broadcast standards departments and the possibility of an LA Law reboot.

Steven Bochco, Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer


Kim Masters

Kaitlin Parker

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