By Paula Hendrickson
Seven years ago, TNT’s The Closer debuted to huge ratings as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) took over the Priority Homicide Department of the LAPD’s Major Crimes Division. Aug. 13, she turns the reins over to Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) when the final episode of The Closer is followed immediately by the first episode of its spin-off, Major Crimes.
The transition should be fairly seamless, since most of The Closer’s characters will be featured in the new series. Provenza, Flynn, Tao and Sanchez — played by G.W. Bailey, Anthony Denison, Michael Paul Chan and Raymond Cruz, respectively — will remain to assist Captain Raydor, while tech wiz Buzz (Phillip P. Keene) will play a more prominent role on Major Crimes.
J.K. Simmons (Chief Pope), Corey Reynolds (Sergeant Gabriel), Jon Tenney (Fritz) and Robert Gossett (Commander Taylor) will be exiting along with Sedgwick, but you can expect some of them to pop up as guest stars on Major Crimes now and then.
Producers began laying the groundwork for the spin-off months ago, when Sedgwick decided it was time to move on. A few months ago, I spoke to Sedgwick for an article about The Closer’s 100th episode, and she told me working on The Closer — filmed in Los Angeles, far from her family home in New York — was challenging, but rewarding as well.
“It has not been easy, I’ve sacrificed a lot, my family has sacrificed a lot, obviously, but it’s been a huge joy as well as a gigantic success — much more than anyone would have thought,” Sedgwick said.
Her early decision allowed producers the chance to tie up Brenda’s storyline while easing viewers in to Major Crimes.
Asked what memories she’ll take with her from the show, Sedgwick said: “We have become this functioning family. I will miss that intimacy that I have with people, whether it’s in between shots, in the make-up trailer, or at parties. We’ve had a lot of Friday night parties — open mic kind of parties — it’s so nice, and it’s really very intimate. The fact that you want to be with these people after spending on average 14 hours a day, five days a week with them is a testament to a great group of people who really get along and get something out of being together.”
As for her future plans? Sedgwick said she’s not much of a planner.
“I will continue to look for compelling, fascinating, challenging characters wherever that takes me,” she said. “I’d also like to continue producing projects I’m passionate about.”
Luckily for viewers, the producers are planners. Along with retaining much of The Closer’s cast and crew, Major Crimes will be shot and edited in a similar style, use many of the same sets, and detectives Flynn and Provenza will still provide comic relief by bickering like an old married couple.
The Closer series finale, Monday, Aug. 13, at 8 p.m. on TNT.
Major Crimes series premiere, Monday, Aug. 13, at 9 p.m. on TNT (the following week, it moves to its regular time: Mondays at 8 p.m.).
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue