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Bochco Could Be Exiting Commander

Rumors swirled Thursday of another impeachment behind the camera at ABC’s Commander in Chief.

Executive producer Dee Johnson is sliding into the showrunner’s role, while Stephen Bochco is away on pre-production of his drama pilot, Hollis and Rae. But sources close to the show said Thursday that Bochco and Commander may have parted company over what one source described as a “bad fit” between the show and the veteran producer.  This comes with the show currently on the sidelines from ABC’s schedule. 

While ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson is said to be a fan of the show, it remains unclear whether Commander will make the spring return that ABC previously indicated. The network had said the show would return on April 18 with seven straight episodes through the end of the season.

After original showrunner Rod Lurie left in the fall (reportedly over continuing to turn in scripts behind schedule), Bochco took over on the heels of his new deal with Commander studio Touchstone Television. But he faced an uphill battle to get the show back on track. He led a three-week hiatus around the holidays to allow the product to "regroup," a source said, but the show never got its ratings groove back. 

Now, one source close to the situation speculates that Bochco and ABC may have clashed over the amount of notes the network was giving on the show, which ABC denies.

“Bochco just wasn’t about to take notes from them,” the source says.  “ABC is very involved, and their success has made them increasingly involved, but that is the price of doing business with them - and any network today.  The ABC people are smart, their notes are good, but under the day-to-day pressure of a series, it can be a lot.”

Both the network and the studio denied that Bochco has been pushed out, instead maintaining that the plan for Johnson to take over in Bochco’s absence was always in place.

The studio also denied speculation that Lurie and fellow producing partner Marc Frydman could become involved in the project once again. 

Commander in Chief, which stars Davis as the first female U.S. president, had a relatively strong fall before falling off as the season wore on.  It was pulled off the schedule last month. 

An email request for comment to a Bochco press rep was not returned at press time.--Jim Benson contributed to this report.