In 2016, Steven Bochco, a co-creator of NYPD Blue, opened up about working with David for the first season of the series. He noted that David’s behavior could vary from “volatile, moody, or sullen” on any given day on set. Steven attributed this demeanor to David’s desire to leave the show and become a prominent film actor.
“He never said it to me directly, but the simple truth was, Caruso felt he was too good for television,” Steven wrote in his memoir, Truth Is a Total Defense: My Fifty Years in Television, per the Hollywood Reporter. “He wanted to be a movie star. And his plan was to alienate the writers, producers and his fellow castmates in hopes that we would dump him from the show.”
During a summer hiatus after Season 1, David’s agent told Steven the actor wanted his NYPD Blue contract to be terminated, but Steven refused to comply. Next, David’s lawyer requested a list of the actor’s demands be met for Season 2, including a pay raise and seven weeks off to open up more time for film shoots. Steven eventually agreed to release David from his contract.
Four episodes of Season 2 that required David’s character to be present had already been written. After filming these episodes, Jimmy Smits joined the show as Detective Bobby Simone to replace David’s lead role of Detective John Kelly.