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Tony Denison talks about ‘Closer’ spinoff ‘Major Crimes’

Tony Deninson joins Mary McDonnell on TNT's "Closer" spinoff "Major Crimes," which debuts right after the "Closer" series finale August 13. CREDIT: TNT

Tony Deninson joins Mary McDonnell on TNT's "Closer" spinoff "Major Crimes," which debuts right after the "Closer" series finale August 13. CREDIT: TNT

I don’t know if I can do an interview any more last second than this, but TNT got me on the phone with Tony Denison, who plays Detective Andy Flynn on “The Closer,” less than six hours before the final episode hits the airwaves.

I have screened that final episode: long-time fans of “The Closer” won’t be disappointed, though her departure is certainly sad. (One tease: keep your eye on Brenda’s infamous monster-sized purse!)

Moments after Brenda fades from the screen forever, TNT tonight rolls out the spin-off “Major Crimes,” which keeps most of the “Closer” cast but loses Kyra Sedgwick (Brenda Leigh Johnson), J.K. Simmons (Will Pope) and Corey Reynolds (David Gabriel).

Mary McDonnell will be back as Sharon Raydor, the Internal Affairs captain who hovered over Brenda the past couple of seasons after the department got sued, partly for Brenda’s actions. But she is back in Brenda’s job and given a new mandate: focus on getting plea bargains to avoid costly trials. Brenda’s goal had always been to get confessions but wasn’t in control of how cases played out in the legal system.

For most of the cast, the transition has been smooth. The crew and key executive producers remained. Even Brenda’s husband and FBI agent Fritz (Jon Tenney) stuck around, along with Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) and Buzz (Phillip P. Keane.)  They add a new detective, Amy Sykes (Kearran Giovanni), an Iraqi war veteran and in the first episode at least, a bit of a kiss up.

“There was a moment after Kyra’s announcement [in 2010] when we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Denison said. “But that moment quickly faded away because within a couple of hours, [creator] James Duff called and said we may continue on. There are more stories he wanted to tell.”

The end of the Kyra era blended so quickly into “Major Crimes,” “we didn’t have a chance to get too sad. Plus, we were blessed with ‘]Academy Award nominated] Mary McDonnell.”

Minus the maelstrom that was Brenda, the cast gets more breathing room and deeper story lines. “You know Provenza’s been married six times,” Denison said. “You know Andy’s been in AA. Now you get to see more of that, maybe even follow us home once in awhile.”

He understands some Brenda fans may not stick around. “Her character was far reaching. People loved her. But we’ll soldier on. I think people who watch ‘Major Crimes’ will be very happy.”

In the first “Major Crimes” episode airing tonight, Provenza steps in to take over Brenda’s spot, but he is soon usurped by Raydor. Provenza is not pleased. “He wants to be head of the squad,” Denison said. “He feels like he’s earned it.”

Raydor quickly shows her style of solving a case is different from Brenda’s. She is more methodical and detail oriented – and lacks that Southern drawl. “It’s a whole different vibe,” Denison said.

The detectives do not like Raydor or trust her since she came from internal affairs. (Then again, they didn’t initially like or trust Brenda seven years ago either.). He said they eventually warm to Raydor’s style and competency. (Teasers show she can use a gun.) Raydor also fosters a teen witness from the final crime Brenda handled, which is apparently an attempt to soften her sometimes icy character.

On TV
“The Closer” season finale, 9 p.m. Monday, August 13

“Major Crimes,” season debut, 10:06 p.m. Monday, August 13.

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

11 comments Add your comment

Mercedes S.

August 13th, 2012
8:07 pm

Teasers show she (Raydor) can use a gun. ” Actually, we’ve seen that already, in an episode where Raydor shoots somebody in the street.

Yvonne J

August 14th, 2012
6:29 am

I do not like the Raydor character. She seems too cold and calculated to me. Maybe as time goes on she will fit in but as of last night the sound of her voice was irritating to me and I turned the tv off. Oh well… life goes on.

Sam-A

August 14th, 2012
8:20 am

RoHo: It really was sad – but the last 3 episodes have made me cry a little. I will really miss Brenda Lee! I’m not a huge fan of Raydor, or at least the way Mary M is portraying her, but like her better in later shows than at first – at least she started understanding Brenda and got her back on a number of occasions. Glad Fritz is still there – I really like him. Will miss Gabriel – wonder if the actor chose to leave or they chose to dump him. Wonder if there’s any possibility Brenda will make an occasional appearance.

Sam-A

August 14th, 2012
8:21 am

Will miss the show. I still miss “West Wing” and “24″, and even “Knots Landing” and that’s been gone for a lifetime!

Mercedes S.

August 14th, 2012
9:13 am

Morning!
Raydor has grown on me and I look forward to watching her character “grow”. Saved first “Major Crimes” for watching later. Imagine all of Brenda’s crew were asked if they wanted to stay with the program (”Major Crimes”) or move on to other offers.” Pope” is a popular character actor and product shiller, so I could see him leaving “The Closer” and good-looking “Gabriel” may have something else coming up.

Mercedes S.

August 14th, 2012
9:31 am

“The Closer” is my ALL time favorite TV crime show. Second favorite, “Crime Story”, which only lasted 1986-1988. It starred Dennis Farina as the good guy, and Anthony John Denison as the bad one. Tony Denison, as we know him today, was extremely good looking back then. Yes, I confess to a small crush.

“Crime Story” only lasted two years but it had an amazing pool of talent. Pam Grier, I remember, Michael Wincott, David Caruso, Gary Sinise, Eric Bogosian, Michael Madsen, Ted Levine, Stephen Lang, Billy Campbell. Wish Rodney could have asked him about that show…

Mercedes S.

August 14th, 2012
9:32 am

Is everybody happy with conclusion of “The Closer”? I wish we had seen the nasty lawyer getting his come-uppance – the guy who planted Gabriel’s girl-friend.

Mercedes S.

August 14th, 2012
9:33 am

kat

August 14th, 2012
10:40 pm

Raydor is creepy. I get irritated everytime she comes on screen. Now that Brenda’s gone, I’m out of here !!!

Yvonne J

August 15th, 2012
8:20 am

I am feeling the same way kat.

Mercedes S.

August 15th, 2012
10:16 am

kat and Yvonne J – if Raydor, an officer of the law, is “creepy”, what do you call the inhabitants of Bon Temps (sp) ? “Dexter?” Any other scripted TV-show – they all seem to be about supes and creeps?