Gregory Hoblit

Gregory Hoblit

Hoblit and Bochco's follow-up series, "Bay City Blues," which followed the lives of minor league baseball players was pulled after only four episodes aired, although it had its champions. Among the cast of then relatively unknown actors were Dennis Franz, Mykelti Williamson, Ken Olin and Sharon Stone.When Bochco departed MTM in a dispute played out in the trade press, he eventually took his production company to 20th Century Fox TV. He, Hoblit and others assembled another ground-breaking series, "L.A. Law" (NBC), about a boutique law firm. In addition to his producing duties, Hoblit continued to his directing career, helming the pilot of "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986) and the premiere episode of "Hooperman" (ABC, 1987). Hoblit also directed the first episodes of the short-lived musical police series "Cop Rock" (ABC, 1990) and "Civil Wars" (ABC, 1991) about a law firm that dealt exclusively with divorce cases. In 1993, Bochco, Hoblit and others developed "NYPD Blue" (ABC), about life in and around a New York precinct. Hoblit directed the two-hour pilot and numerous episodes, setting the tone of the show, which offered a fluid camera style and characters who spoke to each other in a lower-key, less wooden, more conversational, albeit sometimes volatile, fashion. Controversy erupted over the show's romantic sequences, which included partial nudity, and its harsh, sometimes offensive language.Hoblit, despite his fruitful association with Bochco, occasionally worked on his own. He produced and directed "Roe vs. Wade" (NBC, 1988), based on the landmark abortion rights case. The telefilm featured star turns by Holly Hunter and Amy Madigan and shared an Emmy as Best Drama/Comedy Special.Inevitably, Hoblit turned to directing feature films. "Primal Fear" (1996) focused on a defense attorney (Richard Gere) whose desire to win his cases supersedes the pursuit of the truth. It also featured newcomer Edward Norton in his Oscar-nominated, star-making role as the accused. Hoblit proved more successful at guiding his actors than at negotiating the pitfalls of an uneven script. His sophomore effort, "Fallen" (1998), ventured into supernatural territory as it traced a detective who seems to be haunted by a serial killer. Again, the performances of the cast (i.e., Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Donald Sutherland) were of more interest than the story which was an unsuccessful hybrid of genres.Not abandoning the supernatural, Hoblit directed "Frequency" (2000), a drama wherein a modern homicide detective discovers a time warp that allows him to communicate with his firefighter father who died in 1969. The generally favorable reviews once again cited Hoblit's ability to elicit good performances from a cast (in this case, Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel) as well as his skill at papering over plot holes. Leaving behind the otherworldly, he helmed the WWII drama "Hart's War" (2002), about a young law student (Colin Farrell) forced to defend a black officer accused of murder in a prisoner of war camp. A cross between 1953's "Stalag 17" and 1992's "A Few Good Men," the film was again redeemed by Hoblit's sturdy direction and a strong cast that included in addition to Farrell, Bruce Willis, Cole Hauser and Terrence Howard.