As John, NYPD Blue's watchful precinct secretary, actor Bill Brochtrup spends plenty of time observing the squad room's comings and goings. So, who better to offer TV Guide Online the setside skinny on how the cast really feels about Rick Schroder's exit from his role as Detective Danny Sorenson?
"Well, I'm not very happy about it," he admits. "Everybody wants there to be some dishy gossip about it, but there really isn't. The truth is Rick is a very committed family man. He has a bunch of kids, he has another kid on the way, and I don't think he wants to raise them in Hollywood. It's a choice he's made and I respect it."
And though some may be jarred by the switcheroo from one blonde stud to another, the casting of Mark-Paul Gosselaar was a pleasant surprise to Brochtrup's eyes. "I met Mark-Paul for the first time on a plane, when the cast flew to New York," he smiles. "He's grown up too he's not the kid from Saved by the Bell. I didn't recognize him at first, and I was a fan of that show! I totally watched Saved by the Bell during the L.A. riots.
"Anyway," he points out, "nobody wants to be thought of as they were at 15. He won the role, and I trust [NYPD Blue creator] Steven Bochco to bring on a good actor; they're not gonna bring on some teenybopper for no reason."
Unworried about the fall TV season, Brochtrup (who's as openly gay as his Blue
alter ego) is delighted at having been asked to join the U.S.O. to visit troops stationed in Saudi Arabia this summer. "It's called a hardship tour because the soldiers get lonely away from home," he says, then winks: "I'm happy to offer whatever comfort is required."