Nicholas Lea on NYPD Blue?

Nick Lea was in the running to replace Jimmy Smits on ABC's acclaimed cop series, NYPD Blue. He said he was one of four actors on the short list, but later said he thought he was a long shot - that the part would go to a big-name star.

From Marilyn Beck's Hollywood column (June 2, 1998)

Replacement search for Smits heats up

Steven Bochco expects the search to heat up this week for the actor who’ll replace Jimmy Smits on NYPD Blue.

The super-producer says that he and fellow creator/executive producer David Milch have already begun “seeing actors, reading (auditioning) people” for the highly coveted position Smits is vacating this fall.

“I don’t know whether the casting will take a week or a month or whatever,” Bochco says. “It would be nice to have the person in place before we actually start shooting (in August), though we might not meet the character for four or five episodes into the new season.”

Smits certainly shines in the stunning, critically acclaimed two-part “Lost Israel” episode of NYPD Blue, which begins its repeat airing tonight. The searing story has Smits’ Detective Bobby Simone choking back his revulsion toward a man suspected of abusing then murdering his small son - in order to get to the truth of the matter.

“The Jon-Benet (Ramsey murder) case certainly set us to thinking in certain terms, though we didn’t do that story by any means,” says Bochco.

Bochco says he and Milch do have an idea of what they’re looking for in Smits’ replacement. Their “general inclination” is to go with a lesser-known rather than a name star this time around. “I’ve always been of the belief that TV creates its own stars.... But at this stage of the game, we’re not going to turn our backs on anyone.”

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