Sex, swearing make ABC affiliates a little wary of 'NYPD Blue'

June 11, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

Although praising the quality of ABC's new prime-time cop show "NYPD Blue," many of the network's affiliates raised concerns about the sexual content of the new series following a Wednesday afternoon screening of the drama.

An official of one station said he is considering dropping the show.

"People are going to be critical of the sex and nudity," said James Conschafter of WLOS in Asheville, N.C. "It's unfortunate that [these] elements had to be there for a successful program."

"NYPD Blue" is a gritty hourlong drama about New York police officers. It employs hand-held cameras and other cinema verite techniques, and its street-language dialogue makes it one of the roughest shows on network television. The principal irritant for the affiliates was a nude love scene that some said would be more acceptable in a soft-core adult film or cable TV production. The scene features rear and side female nudity.

"I am a little surprised that it went as far as it did," said Mr. Conschafter, who was attending ABC's annual affiliate meeting at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. But he predicted that the series, produced by Steven Bochco, who is responsible for such series as "L.A. Law," "Civil Wars" and "Hill Street Blues," would be a success.

"I think it should draw a big audience," he said.

One affiliate from the Midwest who asked for anonymity called the series "'Hill Street Blues' with sex."

One from the South, who also requested anonymity, said, "I have to seriously think about dropping it [from the schedule] because of the sex. There will be a lot of protests."

Andy Fisher of Cox Broadcasting called the series "well produced." He added that ABC has "a program that could be a very contemporary and strong show" whose fate must be handled carefully "to ensure that the criticisms don't destroy the show."

Mr. Fisher said he expected the criticisms to focus on "the long, lingering" shot of the nude female cop and the language, which he described as "on the edge."

Peter Desnoes, the president of the ABC affiliate board and a station owner, acknowledged that the nudity could be "a problem" for certain station owners.

"There is a place for pushing the edge and how far you go before going over the edge," he said.

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