Hail to the new chief: Decorated TV veteran Steven Bochco has been elected to lead ABC’s Oval Office drama “Commander in Chief,” replacing Rod Lurie, who has stepped aside to focus on developing projects.
Lurie will continue to serve as executive producer on “Commander,” and has sealed a two-year deal with the show’s producer, Touchstone TV, to create and exec produce new series.
Announcement came as something of a surprise, as “Commander,” starring Geena Davis as the nation’s first woman president, is off to a solid start, with this past Tuesday’s episode averaging a 4.8 rating/12 share in adults 18-49. Show has also received generally strong reviews; the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for one, called it the fall’s best new drama.
The network and studio stressed they were pleased with the show and that the changeover had more to do with logistics, as episodes weren’t being delivered in a timely fashion. Lurie agreed to step aside and bring in seasoned producer Bochco to make sure the show runs smoothly.
However, some insiders said creative differences may also be at play.
“Rod did the right thing for himself and for the show,” one exec said.
Lurie had already shifted his focus in recent weeks, moving away from the writers’ room to helm episodes of the show. Bochco became available after signing a production deal last month with Touchstone (Daily Variety, Sept. 26).
“I’ve been a huge fan of Steven Bochco’s for over two decades,” Lurie said. “I’m blown away, excited to see how much more he will electrify ‘Commander in Chief.’ ”
For his part, Bochco said he’s looking forward to “helping realize Touchstone’s and Rod Lurie’s vision.”
Lurie, who also created ABC’s critically acclaimed but short-lived “Line of Fire,” will now segue to focusing on developing projects for Touchstone under his Battle Plan Prods. shingle’s new pact.
Lurie’s feature credits include “The Contender,” “The Last Castle” and “Deterrence.”
Bochco is in the midst of a busy development season, creating and writing a cop/mystery show at the WB and working with scribes Nat Bernstein and Mitch Katlin on a laffer at Fox; he also has at least two other projects in the works. But the producer felt he still had the time to tackle “Commander.”
The 10-time Emmy winner’s most recent credits include FX’s critical darling “Over There,” which is still awaiting word on renewal. Also at the Alphabet, he co-created the landmark police drama “NYPD Blue” and was behind last season’s ABC skein “Blind Justice,” as well as the net’s “Philly.”
“We thank Rod Lurie for creating ‘Commander in Chief’ and shepherding its successful launch, and we appreciate Steven Bochco coming onboard to provide his leadership as we continue through the season,” Touchstone TV prexy Mark Pedowitz said.
“Commander” stars Davis as Mackenzie Allen, who becomes president after the chief executive dies — to the anger of Donald Sutherland’s character, House Speaker Nathan Templeton. Harry Lennix, Kyle Secor, Ever Carradine, Caitlin Wachs, Matt Lanter and Jasmine Anthony also star.
Meanwhile, in other new series news, NBC confirmed that it has reduced its order on midseason laffer “Thick and Thin” from 13 to six. In looking at its scheduling needs, particularly post-Winter Olympics, the network said it realized it didn’t have room for all 13 segs.