Meredith Stehm is bringing estrogen to the squad room, Philly style.

Stehm, a 1990 Penn grad, is writing a CBS pilot about a female detective who heads the Philadelphia Police Department’s all-male “cold case” squad. (Call this one “Prime Suspect Meets the Mummers.”)

No title at the moment. Its original handle – “Cold Cases” – was dropped because it was too similar to Bill Kurtis’ “Cold Case Files” on A&E. Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI,” “Black Hawk Down”) is executive producer.

The Series Formerly Known as Cold Cases, unlike CBS’ “Hack,” will be shot in L.A., not on location. If it gets picked up for the fall, a crew will come to Philly “regularly” to shoot exterior footage.

After four years (1996-2000) as a writer for ABC’s testosterone-heavy “NYPD Blue,” Stehm was looking to shake up the standard cop formula.

“I loved writing about detectives and crime, but it was really focused on male detectives. I wanted to make a female character the lead. It’s sort of untapped territory.”

One major exception: Helen Mirren’s steely Superintendent Jane Tennison on PBS’ acclaimed British import, “Prime Suspect.”

“She’s a very good example of a rich character,” says Stehm, 34. “I admired her a lot.”

In Stehm’s series, Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris), a homegirl who attended Temple, “is very guarded. She’s all about the work.”

Rush’s strength “is more psychological than aggressive. She knows she can’t be tougher than the guys surrounding her. She needs to be more cerebral.”

Why Philadelphia?

Looking for an East Coast city, Stehm thought about Baltimore (where her sister, Jamie, is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun), but figured it had already been done by NBC’s late, great “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Philly “is the city I know best, after L.A.,” says Stehm. She scoped out the scene here in July with Lt. Mark E. Deegan and Detective Timothy Bass of the Homicide Division.

For the record, there’s never been a female supervisor of the Philly police’s cold-case squad, says Inspector William Colarulo of the public-affairs unit.

Each episode of Stehm’s series will open in the era during which the crime took place. The pilot opens in 1976.

For a writer, cops and crime “are a little more rewarding” than medicine, says Stehm, an “ER” staff writer for the last two seasons.

In a hospital drama, “there’s no villain or pursuit of justice. Terrible things happen, but you can’t hunt down who did it.”


Jon Stewart, wise-guy host of Comedy Central’s acclaimed “Daily Show,” will stick around through 2004, meaning he’ll be skewering the next administration, whoever’s on the throne.

Stewart’s former contract was to have expired at the end of this season. He inherited “Daily Show” from Craig Kilborn in 1998.

(c) 2003, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer’s World Wide Web site, at

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-25-03 2010EDT

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