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TV Junkie Interview: 'Raising the Bar' Premieres Tonight

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Tonight brings the premiere of Steven Bochco's new legal series, "Raising the Bar", on TNT at 10:00pm. Yes, the creator of "Hill Street Blues", "Cop Rock", "L.A. Law", "Murder One", and "NYPD Blue" has a new series, and yes, it is cop/law-related. This is an area of expertise for Bochco, he defined a genre that seems to occupy a significant portion of the TV dial.

Bochco is the master of the genre, and "Raising the Bar" is a very capable show, but new territory wasn't getting explored on at least the first two episodes. This might change and it might not but if it doesn't that wouldn't disappoint a lot of people. Think about it, how many different flavors of "Law & Order" are voraciously consumed week in and out? "Raising the Bar" has some great players, including Gloria Reuben (of "ER" fame) and "Malcolm in the Middle" mom, Jane Kaczmarek, making up a cast of capable players for a show that just might stay a while. There is a huge demographic of people out there who loves the format of this show and who have a keen appreciation of what Bochco brings to the table.

LAist had a chance to ask a few questions of series creator Bochco and Reuben, who plays Rosalind Whitman, managing partner of the featured law firm:

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LAist: Gloria, we have some questions about your character, Roz. We read that you did some research by going to see how things worked in the New York court system. What else did you look at in terms of developing your character? What did you draw on for this part?

Gloria Reuben: Well you know the woman, Robin Steinberg, whom this character is based on, is the executive director of the Bronx defenders, and so you know I just - I witnessed how she would juggle numerous things and still you know be the leader and still - you know be a very kind of the eye of the storm. So in terms of what I drew on, I mean I think that I don't really have that much kind of experience in personally in that you know in helming an office or kind of you know being other people's boss.

But I think that I do know a little bit about leadership and about, even amidst kind of having 25 things to do at the same time, you can still be able to focus on one thing at a time and give it your full attention and be able to do right by what that particular thing, or in this case what the particular client would need that's best for the client. So - but ...

LAist: But you're also - you're also a protector of your team of attorneys. You know you're an advocate for them. You know it's not just about the clients. You have to inspire and motivate your crew.

Gloria Reuben: Exactly. Yes, the leadership qualities that are necessary to - of course, to you know be able to carry my attorneys through when it feels like they keep on running into walls or they keep on having new challenges that they're constantly up against. Yes, Roz definitely has to be an advocate for her attorneys.

She needs people to be able to do their jobs well and without burning out, which is what often happens. So I think it's kind of a lot for one person to juggle, to oversee everything, and again, still be able to not be overloaded in a way that she can specifically point out who needs help when and how to help them do the best job that they can.

LAist: We're all very familiar with your work on ER over the years, and it's really great seeing you in this other way, in this other environment and character.

Gloria Reuben: Well, thank you for saying that. I feel the same way. I'm very much enjoying it a lot too.


LAist: Steven, could you let us know what you find inspiring currently, in terms of programming out there, if it's a particular person, or show, or space.

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Steven Bochco: Well, what I'm sort of inspired by, generally, is how diverse the cable universe is in terms of the kind of shows that are out there. Everything from "Nip/Tuck", or "Damages", or "The Closer" or "Mad Men". Obviously, shows like "The Sopranos", and Larry David's show, "Curb Your Enthusiasm". I mean, you're looking at such a rich tapestry of stuff. It's enormously encouraging. For everybody who says broadcast television is really the pits and whatever, it's - it does what it does, and cable does what it does, and HBO and Showtime does what it does.

And when you lump it all in there, there's this incredible menu of stuff to pick and choose from to the point where it's - I mean if you're a really involved television watcher, you're going to have a hard time watching everything that's worth looking it. There's just so many good things out there. It's not so much that I think less people are watching television. It's that they're watching in so many different venues that the gross numbers tend to go down.

"Raising the Bar" premieres tonight on TNT at 10:00pm

Pic of "Raising the Bar" from TNT