One of ABC’s signature dramas is staging a comeback. ABC has given a pilot production commitment to NYPD Blue, a new iteration of the iconic cop drama that will revolve around the son of Dennis Franz’s Detective Andy Sipowicz character from the original series. The reboot hails from NYPD Blue alums Matt Olmstead, Nick Wootton and Jesse Bochco. The pilot, a co-production between 20th Century Fox TV, which was behind the original series, and ABC Studios, is already casting its four main roles of NYPD cops, led by Theo.
Unfortunately for all Andy Sipowitz fans, in the sequel his character is dead. The return of NYPD Blue follows his son, Theo, as he tries to earn his detective shield and work in the 15th squad while investigating his father’s murder. Theo seems to have taken after his father as he too is a hard-drinking, hard-headed and quick-witted cop.
By opting to have a link to the original series versus a straight-out reboot with an all-new group of cops, the new NYPD Blue creates opportunities for characters from the Emmy-winning drama to pop in. Indeed, while there are no deals in place, I hear that the intention is for original cast members to appear on the followup series.
That won’t include Franz, a three-time Emmys for NYPD Blue, who had largely retired from acting but had remained open to opportunities. “I did receive a call, and I’m flattered bot nor interested,” Franz told Deadline. “NYPD Blue was a high point in my life and career, and I think of it so fondly. I wish them all well and much success.”
The pilot script was written by Olmstead and Wootton. Bochco, son of NYPD Blue co-creator Steven Bochco, who helmed 10 episodes of the original series, is set to direct. All three executive produce, while Steven Bochco’s widow, Dayna Bochco, will serve as a producer.
I hear the project got the blessing of the late Steven Bochco, who met with Olmstead shortly before his death April 1.
Theo is Andy Sipowitz’s son with Assistant District Attorney Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence) who was tragically killed in Season 6, while Theo was just a little boy. He was played on the show from Seasons 6-12 by child actor Austin Majors.
Created by Bochco and David Milch, NYPD Blue debuted in 1993 and ran for 12 seasons, setting a record for the longest-running drama series on ABC, a mark only recently eclipsed by Grey’s Anatomy. It won 20 Emmy Awards from 84 nominations over its run, including best drama series, and was lauded for its realistic portrayal of cops’ lives.
NYPD Blue also pushed the boundaries of broadcast content with its depiction of nudity and alcoholism, drawing an FCC fine over a racy 2003 scene featuring Charlotte Ross’ buttocks that was eventually struck down by a court.
For Olmstead, this marks a return to the series that gave him his start. As a young writer trying to get a staff writing job, he met with Bochco who offered him to write for the ABC cop drama. Olmstead joined the show as a writer in Season 6, steadily rising through the ranks to executive producer in Seasons 10-12.
Wootton’s first association with Bochco came when he was just three years old, because Wootton and Bochco’s kids attended the LA elementary school that is now Crossroads. His first job was as a PA at age 14 on LA Law, co-created by Bochco who became his mentor. Fresh out of college, Wootton’s was an apprentice on the second season of NYPD Blue, joined the staff and stayed for 12 years, also rising through the ranks to executive producer in Seasons 10-12.
Olmstead, and Wottoon previously teamed with Bochco to co-create and co-write the series Blind Justice and the pilot NYPD 2069. Olmstead and Wottoon also worked on another cop drama co-created by Bochco, Brooklyn South, and Wootton co-created with Bochco City of Angels.
As he started thinking about rebooting NYPD Blue under his overall deal at ABC Studios, Olmstead met with Bochco, who gave them his blessing for the project just four days before his death.
“Steven was just unflappable. All of the writers, he guarded us like we were his kids,” Wootton said following Bochco’s passing. Added Olmstead, “The man was a prince, a total gentleman and what he did was borderline magical. Generous, kind and nurturing, beyond being wildly talented. Just one of a kind.”
Wootton most recently served as executive producer of CBS/CBS TV Studios’ drama series Scorpion for its four-season run. He became available in May when the series was canceled. Olmstead was executive producer/showrunner of NBC’s Chicago Fire. He also co-created and served as executive producer/showrunner on its spinoff Chicago PD.
ABC successfully revived Roseanne last season before the series was dramatically canceled following a racist tweet by star Roseanne Barr, spawning a spinoff series, The Conners. For next season, the network also has Bewitched and Designing Women reboots in development.
“I don’t necessarily want to dive into rebooting for the sake of rebooting,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told Deadline in August. “I’m certainly open to a reboot if something comes to me with the right creative or a spin on the creative that makes sense.”
Olmstead is repped by WME and Bloom Hergott. Wootton is repped by WME and Hirsch Wallerstein.