No death wish for Sipowicz

Franz's request: Keep Andy alive

July 26, 2004|By Tom Jicha | Tom Jicha,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

LOS ANGELES - Andy Sipowicz doesn't want to die. More precisely, Dennis Franz, who has played the ornery detective for 11 seasons on NYPD Blue, doesn't want him to die.

NYPD Blue will end its ABC run this coming season. There's a slim chance it could get an 11th-hour reprieve, according to new ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson. "But right now, we're really planning on making this a fantastic season to send the show off."

This is fine with Franz. "I'm ready ... for the show to end. I'm ready for Sipowicz to end."

Franz feels strongly that "I wouldn't want to go out on a slab. I would prefer not to see Sipowicz die."

In conversations with producer Steven Bochco, Franz has been told the final season will put a positive spin on how far Sipowicz has come in dealing with his demons and finally finding contentment.

This blueprint was complicated when Charlotte Ross, who played Andy's wife, Connie, decided she would not return after taking a maternity leave.

"It's unfortunate that we worked so hard to get people to accept the relationship [of a vivacious young woman and a balding, pudgy cop] and become emotionally invested in it, then to end it and not see it to its fruition," Franz said.

When he says he is disappointed in how Ross exited the show without warning, it's likely he's feeling a much stronger emotion. But he's too nice a guy to say it.

Franz expects the writers will deal with the situation by making Connie a point of reference even though she will not be seen. "We'll make her presence known without her physically being there," Franz said.

Franz doesn't expect that Bochco will tell him how the series will be brought to a close until the script is delivered, which might not be for several months. It isn't even certain how many episodes will be produced before the curtain comes down. Sixteen have been ordered but ABC has asked that everyone be prepared to do at least four more if ratings hold up. NYPD Blue is still the network's highest-rated drama.

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