How Did Jon Polito Getting Angry Get His Character Killed on Homicide: Life on the Street?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Jon Polito’s public complaints about the direction of Homicide: Life on the Street got his character killed off in an ignominious manner.

Homicide: Life on the Street debuted in 1993. Based on David Simon’s non-fiction book of roughly the same name (Simon’s book was called Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, as he followed the Baltimore Homicide Department around for a year), the series was a critical smash hit. It is still remarkable the high level of quality that the show (particularly writers Tom Fontana and James Yoshimura and producer Barry Levinson in those early days) were able to achieve with Homicide on network television in the mid-1990s. Homicide would not look out of place on HBO in 2016, that’s how ahead of its time was (okay, the 1990s fashion would probably need to be updated a bit).

One area where the show was very faithful initially was in the cops who worked in Homicide. In real life, the mix tended to be older male white detectives and younger male black detectives. That’s what they did on the show, with Ned Beatty and Jon Polito playing two of the older cops on the show, Stan “Big Man” Bolander (based on one of the major characters in the Simon book) and Steve Crosetti, respectively…

The problem, however, was that NBC was not exactly a fan of this approach…
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