Archive for the ‘"Hill Street Blues"’ Category

Let’s Be Careful Out There: “Hill Street Blues” Turns 30

Friday, January 14th, 2011

30 years ago, on January 15, 1981, Hill Street Blues premiered. The series redefined the “cop genre,” yet was nearly canceled for low ratings!  The series was the lowest-rated series that NBC had ever renewed (ranking at #87 of 96 of all prime-time shows).  This first season then set the record for most Emmy nominations (21) and wins (8) in a single season.  Created by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll and produced by fabled MTM Enterprises, Hill Street Blues would win the Emmy for Best Drama series for four consecutive years.

Star Daniel J. Travanti describes the series in his Archive of American Television interview:

“First of all, it’s not a cop show. It’s a complex, satirical, social commentary: an entertaining, goofy, serious, suspenseful, funny, wrenching series of tales about complex individuals of varying personalities, some of whom have heroic qualities– all of whom have flaws of one sort or another, greater or smaller, who happen to be in police work.  Who do their best to do that difficult work of apprehending suspects and punishing the guilty while being fair and honest, or trying to be, and avoiding corruption.  It’s about people, complex people, embroiled in complex emotional relationships and tough, tough work, who happen to be in uniform.  That’s all.  And it has what almost no other American series has ever had: satire.  It deliberately makes fun of social problems in order to call attention to them by way of suggesting improvement.”

The sincerest form of flattery, SCTV’s “Benny Hill Street Blues”

Composer Mike Post’s Archive of American Television Interview is Online!

Friday, October 12th, 2007

Mike Post, who composed the theme songs for Hill Street Blues, The Greatest American Hero, and L. A. Law, and many others spoke about his long and distinguished career in music composition. Post was one of the featured composer’s last night at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences evening “Another Opening Another Show” which celebrated TV Theme Music. Among the other composers in attendance were Archive interviewees Earle Hagen and Vic Mizzy (to be posted online soon).

Click here to watch Mike Post’s 3-hour Archive of American Television interview (in 6 parts).

Interview Description:
Mike Post was interviewed for nearly three hours in Burbank, CA. Post talked about his early interests in music and his formative years as a studio musician. He discussed his first big break in television as the musical director of the newly revamped The Andy Williams Show (1969-71), making him the youngest person to have that title at the time. He discussed his longtime partnership with Pete Carpenter and their collaborative efforts on many of the major dramatic shows of the 1970s and ‘80s. He spoke about his chance meeting with Stephen J. Cannell that led to his extensive work with Cannell and his colleagues Dick Wolf and Steven Bochco. He described the work of a television composer as someone who layers their art on another’s in a true spirit of collaboration. He outlined his compositions and memorable theme songs for such series as The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, The Greatest American Hero, L.A. Law, Cop Rock (theme by Randy Newman) and Law & Order. He was interviewed on May 25, 2005 by Stephen J. Abramson.

Director Robert Butler’s Archive Interview is Now Online!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Director Robert Butler was responsible for creating the look and feel for many classic television series in a career that spanned five decades. His full Archive of American Television interview is now available online, including detailed accounts of directing the first episodes of Batman, Moonlighting (pilot telefilm) and Hill Street Blues.

Click here to access Robert Butler’s entire five-hour interview.

Interview description:
Butler began by describing his early years breaking into the business as an usher at CBS. He described his experiences in various behind-the-scenes capacities on such classic “live” anthology series as Climax! and Playhouse 90. He described his first break in television directing on the comedy/drama series Hennesey. He detailed his many and varied assignments in series television in the 1960s on such series as The Detectives, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, The Defenders, The Fugitive, Hogan’s Heroes, The Twilight Zone, Batman, and Star Trek. Butler described his work in the 1970s on television movies (such as Columbo MOWs and James Dean) and feature films. He extensively described his groundbreaking work on the look of Hill Street Blues, for which he directed several of the initial episodes (including the pilot). He talked about his later work on such series as Remington Steele, Moonlighting (the telefilm pilot), Out on a Limb, Midnight Caller (which he also executive-produced), Sisters, and Lois & Clark. The interview was conducted by Stephen J. Abramson on January 14, 2004.

Dennis Franz’s Archive Interview Is Now Online!

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Multi-Emmy Award-winning actor Dennis Franz’s 2-1/2 hour interview is now online. Franz was awarded four Emmy Awards for playing “Andy Sipowicz” on NYPD Blue.

In part 4 of his interview, Franz talks about working on NYPD Blue.

Click here to view Dennis Franz’s entire interview.

Interview Description:
Franz talked about his early years breaking into theater, including his work performing as a regular member of the Organic Theater Company in Chicago in the early 1970s. He described acting in several films of Robert Altman and Brian DePalma and his association with each of these directors early in his career. He spoke about his work on Hill Street Blues: describing his storylines and acting with the ensemble. He discussed the short-lived baseball comedy-drama series Bay City Blues, its subsequent cancellation, and his return to Hill Street Blues as another character. He commented on the spin-off series Beverly Hills Buntz, an attempt at the time, Franz states, for the creation of a “dramedy,” which was twice reworked. He spoke in great detail about the role for which he is most associated “Andy Sipowicz” (by Franz’s count his 28th role as a cop) on NYPD Blue: his suggestions for his character (including an idea to introduce a mixed relationship for him, which was rejected), his reaction to the nudity and violence on the show, what he felt distinguished the show from other cop shows, working with writer-producer David Milch, and working with the many ensemble actors. The interview was conducted by Stephen J. Abramson on October 12, 2006.

Fred Silverman’s Interview is Now Online

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

We’re happy to report that legendary television executive Fred Silverman’s interview is now online. At almost 6-1/2 hours, this amazing interview encompasses over three decades of television history and gives a fascinating inside look at the networks and programming so many of us grew up with (just take a look at the brief interview description below and you’ll see what we mean!). Not one to rest on his many laurels, Silverman is currently ramping up his Fred Silverman Co. to develop scripted and unscripted comedies.

Here’s part 7 of the interview where he describes the programming of the hit miniseries Roots.

Click here to access Fred Silverman’s entire interview.

Interview description:
Network television executive Fred Silverman speaks about his first job in TV, at WGN in Chicago, where he created such programs as Zim-Bomba, Bozo’s Circus and Family Classics. He then explains his move to CBS in New York, where he quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder, first as head of daytime programming, (where he revitalized the Saturday morning lineup, Scooby-Doo being among them), and later as the Vice President of Programming. During this time, he oversaw such programs as All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, Kojak, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and The Waltons. Next, he talks his appointment as President of ABC Entertainment, where he oversaw such programs as Charlie’s Angels, Donny and Marie, Eight is Enough, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat and Three’s Company. He also touches on the development and scheduling of the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots. Mr. Silverman talks about his next move, to NBC as President and CEO in 1978. There, he oversaw the development of programs including and Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Hill Street Blues. Mr. Silverman also explains the basic tenets of working as a network television executive, and discusses his methods for development, scheduling and promotions. Finally, he talks about his work as an independent producer for such programs as the Perry Mason television movies, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night and Diagnosis Murder. The interview was conducted in two sessions in 2001 by Dan Pasternack.

25 Years Ago Today: "Hill Street Blues" Swept the Emmy Awards

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

On September 13, 1981, Hill Street Blues set the record for the most Emmy Awards ever won by a primetime show in one season: eight. The record would stand until The West Wing won nine Emmys in 2000. At the time, Hill Street Blues was one of the poorest-rated shows of the season (ranking 87 among 96 primetime shows) when it made Emmy history (Its 21 nominations was also a record). As headlined by Variety: “‘Hill Street’ Cops Most Emmys: NBC-TV Series Busts Awards Open.”

Co-Creator/Producer Steven Bochco talks about Hill Street Blues in his Archive of American Television interview. This is Part 5 of the interview. Click here to access all 12 interview segments. (Remember, if you’d like to watch the interview in the order in which it was conducted, select the parts in order (1,2,3…).)

Hill Street Blues‘ wins in its first season were:

Outstanding Drama Series
Outstand Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Daniel J. Travanti)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Barbara Babcock)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Michael Conrad)
Outstanbding Directing in a Drama Series (Robert Butler)
Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series (Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll)
Outstanding Cinematography: Series (William H. Cronjager)
Outstanding Film Sound Editing (Samuel Horta, Robert Cornet, Denise Horta, Eileen Horta)

The Archive of American Television has also conducted interviews with Daniel J. Travanti and Robert Butler. These interviews are not currently available online but can be viewed at the Academy’s offices in North Hollywood.

Did you watch Hill Street Blues? What are your favorite moments from the show?