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Steven Bochco Lays Down the Law : GIVE HIM THE JOB

August 23, 1992

"I f I Ran a Network . . . ," last Sunday's commentary by television producer Steven Bochco ("Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law") has prompted a heavy response from readers. A sampling:

As a young aspiring TV producer I really appreciated the Bochco cover story. He has made an indelible mark on program quality, and I wish he could do the same for network quality.

Many of Bochco's ideas hit the mark. The major networks are like so many post-1980s businesses--bloated, nearsighted and under attack. Bochco is right when he calls for their downsizing and simplification. The networks need to understand the realities of quality production and some of the false realities of ratings-based decisions.

We who choose to work in television do so because we love it and want to express ourselves through it. The networks are pursuing the goals of profit and happy stockholders. These goals are not mutually exclusive. Bochco is right when he calls for the networks to let the producers create and the marketplace set the standards.

The difference I do have with Bochco is his idea that the networks put up or shut by ordering only a full season's run of a series. I feel this would greatly limit access and variety. Bochco's greatest contribution, "Hill Street Blues," a show that changed television forever, was a late-season entry.

The quality of a program is not tied to a full-season order. In Britain, the "prestige drama" rarely has more than eight parts. The creative process is what needs the attention and not the "package."

What network TV needs are some brave idealists committed to superior entertainment and not the status quo. Everyone can benefit from a fresh look.



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