There had been other gay characters on TV series before public administrative assistant John Irvin on ABC's "NYPD Blue," but perhaps none to whom the audience had so quickly and easily warmed. With his sweet smile and peppy attitude, Bill Brochtrup, the openly gay blond with boy-next-door good looks, won the role in 1994 after playing a homosexual model with AIDS in the L.A. stage production of "The Raft of the Medusa." What followed during two seasons of recurring appearances was a chance to see not just Brochtrup's fine acting, but the character of Det. Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) finding he could relate to a gay male as a human being and not as someone who made him uncomfortable. So popular was Irvin that his character was moved to the short-lived 1996 CBS sitcom "Public Morals," which, like "NYPD Blue," was executive produced by Steven Bochco. As a result, the actor has become one of the producers stock players, landing a role as yet another gay character in the ensemble of "Total Security" (ABC, 1997). When that show succumbed to early cancellation, the actor rejoined "NYPD Blue" in early 1998 and remained with the series through the end of its run in 2005.