BOCHCO FINDS TENSION IN THE TECHNICALITIES

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TV producer Steve Bochco is betting the TV viewing public wants more than courtroom theatrics.

That's the reasoning behind his new "Murder One," which will take a much more in-depth approach than other TV courtroom dramas, including Mr. Bochco's own "L.A. Law."

In "Murder One," making its debut next fall on ABC, the entire 22-week series will be devoted to the progression of a single murder trial.

"Television has always given us everything above the water line, which is essentially the trial," Mr. Bochco said. "But people have gotten infinitely more sophisticated about the whole process and the complex nature of the proceedings."

Mr. Bochco said he has scrupulously studied actual trial footage of cable network Court TV's cases and will use much of the material to develop story lines and characters for "Murder One."

He has also hired as an adviser Los Angeles criminal lawyer Howard Weitzman, who was O.J. Simpson's first attorney.

"Assuming we develop a big, complex and interesting case, I think there is ample drama to be located throughout the course of an entire season," Mr. Bochco said. "And hopefully, by the time we get to trial in episode 16, or 17, if we've done our job right, we'd really have people hooked."

Mr. Bochco said he and his writers originally had the idea while doing "L.A. Law" and had envisioned starting and ending a season of that series wrapped around a single criminal case. But the ensemble nature of "L.A. Law" didn't lend itself to the device.

When the producer described his inspiration for "Murder One," you could see the raw character and conflict material he has gleaned from the Simpson trial.

"When I look at a Robert Shapiro and a Marcia Clark, I see two people who really don't like each other beyond the natural adversarial relationship that would exist between prosecutors and defense attorneys. They seem genuinely to dislike each other," Mr. Bochco said. "Well, from a storytelling point of view, that's great stuff. But you're never going to get the whole story by watching a case like this ...

"You're not in there. You're not privy to the way attorneys sit in a room and strategize ... We're attempting to not duplicate what you can get tracking any major trial through the press. What we're trying to do is access all of the behind the scenes stuff that really makes this stuff utterly fascinating."

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