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August 12, 2012

The Brainerd Dispatch - Today's Entertainment Magazine

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COVER STORY 'The Closer' sequel 'Major Crimes' a major spinoff for TNT By Jay Bobbin © Zap2it like without the closer? Viewers are about to find out: What would "The Closer" be Literally on the heels of the finale of the much-acclaimed Kyra Sedgwick police saga — one of the top-rated dramas in basic cable history — TNT launches the spinoff series "Major Crimes" Monday, Aug, 13. The show will involve nearly all the "Closer" regulars, with the inescapably notable exception of Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sedgwick ... who felt a seven-season run as interrogator extraordinaire Brenda Leigh Johnson was enough for her. known, TNT asked "Closer" men- tor James Duff to devise a way to keep the other characters go- ing. Thus, the new drama brings Mary McDonnell front and center as Sharon Raydor, the police captain she has been playing on the parent series (which actually does end immediately before "Major Crimes" begins). G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond Cruz and Phillip P. Keene are among others who will carry their "Closer" roles into the new venture. Jon Tenney and Robert Gossett also are slated to return in what the network terms "guest appearances." "I've never lost a show and gotten a show in a 12-hour pe- riod, which is what happened, basically," says executive pro- ducer Duff. "It was a bit of a roller coaster, but I was very grateful for the opportunity. I don't think there's been a finale that's led di- rectly into the next series before, so we'll see how that goes. It's an unusual launch." Once she made her decision Duff notes the potential for "Major Crimes" to exist was in direct proportion to "how long Kyra stayed. The longer she stayed, the less likely this was to happen. And I should emphasize that she didn't 'leave,' since there is a distinction. She finished her contract, and she did an extra year, actually." around "The Closer" for a while, she's had no illusions who its principal female star was, but "Major Crimes" now changes the game for her considerably. "My general feeling is one of taking a deep breath and trusting James Duff and the writers and all of our company ... and myself," the "Dances With Wolves" and "Bat- tlestar Galactica" alum reflects. "I'm trusting we'll be able to or- ganically allow this character to pivot into someone who's more of a protagonist." Though McDonnell has been Provenza. "Not only is it fun, it's lucrative, but it's also very touch- ing." So is how Provenza came to be in the first place, since Bai- ley has had ties to "Closer" and "Major Crimes" mentor Duff for a long time. Bailey taught a teen- age Duff in an acting workshop, and their enduring connection played a big part in the perform- er going from having the origi- nally planned multiple-episode "Closer" arc to becoming a vital, ongoing part of the show. "All of us want to keep work- McDonnell hastens to point out her Raydor doesn't replace Sedgwick's Brenda Leigh John- son in the new scenario, "but she does continue to bring in the point of view of a powerful fe- male who is central to the Major Crimes Division. In one sense, she continues where Brenda Leigh left off; in another sense, she brings a different style that began in 'The Closer.' The link is that there's a continuum of the feminine in this very masculine environment." ing, or we wouldn't have signed on for it," Bailey explains of the encore act "Major Crimes" is giv- ing him and many "Closer" peers. "We can congratulate each other until the cows come home, but if the people in Omaha and Chicago and Atlanta and Miami don't watch, it won't stay. Do we think about it? Of course we do, but you can't do a scene thinking about that stuff. It's not how you approach a day's work. We'd like to grow the audience, but that's up to them." Indeed, Duff confirms, "I take care in the first three episodes to establish Raydor as the major player that she is, but it's not ex- actly the same. 'The Closer' was a perspective on the justice sys- tem, and a very narrow one, too. It was the one offered by Brenda Leigh in her desire to finish what she started, and she's more of my conscious self, someone who has a hard time balancing work and personal life. "Raydor is more my con- science, the part that I'm reluc- tant to heed but that I must listen to. And looking at the justice sys- tem that way, instead of through one's own moral prism, is an interesting switch." For veteran actor Bailey, also known for playing another type of cop as Lt. Harris in the "Po- lice Academy" movie comedies, G.W. Bailey stars in "Major Crimes," premiering Monday on TNT. "Major Crimes" offers a welcome chance to reboot his "Closer" character. traordinarily lucky guy, at this age, to have the opportunity to do this," he says of moving forward as Detective Lt. Louie "What can I say? I'm an ex- ing that "There aren't that many spinoffs to begin with, and suc- cessful ones are even smaller in number. It is sometimes a ques- tion as to whether you even want to go on, but while we were do- ing 'The Closer,' the justice sys- tem evolved ... and it's called the justice system, not 'the fairness system.' Most prosecutions end in deals being made, except for murder cases, and the reaction to this new paradigm from regu- lar homicide detectives is really interesting. They have a different view of how the system works." 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