[03/07/07 - 06:11 PM]
Live at the Paley Festival: TNT's "The Closer"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

7:00 p.m.: Crap! I forgot this one started at 7:30. Now I have 30 minutes to kill.

7:01 p.m.: Now I have 29 minutes to kill. Okay, must... put... down... notepad.

7:30 p.m.: And we're back. Hey, it's a new face! Barbara Dixon, Director of the Los Angeles MT&R, appears alongside William C. Paley to intro James Duff, the show's creator.

7:36 p.m.: James takes the podium and jokes that he bought the suit he's wearing specifically for tonight... only it no longer fits. Doh! Anywho, as expected he's brought an episode of the show to screen for us - season two's "Critical Missing."

8:29 p.m.: Barbara returns to introduce the entire panel: Andrew J. Sacks (producer), Gil Garcetti (consulting producer), Michael Paul Chan (Mike Tao), Gina Ravera (Irene Daniels), Raymond Cruz (Julio Sanchez), G.W. Bailey (Provenza), Kyra Sedgwick (Brenda Johnson), J.K. Simmons (Will Pope), Tony Denison (Andy Flynn), Corey Reynolds (David Gabriel), Greer Shephard (executive producer), Michael M. Robin (executive producer) and of course, James Duff.

8:36 p.m.: James on the show's genesis: "I had actually gone to Gil [Garcetti] and said, 'What is the very best thing a district attorney can have when he's prosecuting a [murder] case?' And he said, 'An airtight confession that will hold up in court.' And 'duh,' I guess. And that's what we made the show about. And as we were discussing it Greer [Shephard] - at first it was going to be a guy - and Greer said, 'Why don't we make it woman?' And I was like, 'Well, that's a good idea too.'"

8:40 p.m.: Gina Ravera reveals she read Gabriel's lines for her audition. "Daniels was still in gestation," she adds.

8:46 p.m.: Kyra Sedgwick on how she got involved with the show: "I wasn't really looking for a TV series. I certainly wasn't looking for an hour TV series. And I certainly wasn't looking to do a TV series in L.A. There was just no, no way. And [my manager] was really persistent. She kept on bringing it up and I said, 'Don't even send it because there's no point.' And she said, 'It's a little bit like 'Prime Suspect.' And I've worked with Helen [Mirren] and I'm a huge fan of hers, and I loved that show and I went 'ummmm, okay send it.' So I read it and Kev said, 'How is it?' And I said, 'Well, I can't do it but I think it's really good.' And he said, 'Well why can't you do it?' And I said, 'Well, because it shoots in L.A. six months out of the year and I can't do it.' And he said, 'Well, I think you should.' And he was really supportive and said he would stay home with the kids for the first year and we kind of talked about when to schedule it. Long story short - there were a couple of hoops to go through but basically it worked out. And I'm thrilled obviously."

8:48 p.m.: J.K. Simmons on his involvement: "It was probably my favorite audition of all time because I... didn't... audition. [Laughs.] I had just come from the long-running hit 'The D.A.' where I met Mike and Greer and James... and James sort of wrote this guy with me in mind which was the ultimate compliment. And he asked if I wanted to read a script and I said, 'No. I don't have to read a script, sign me up."

8:53 p.m.: Tony Denison shares that every pilot he's done has been picked up to series, beginning with NBC's "Crime Story." It's a fact he jokes he didn't tell the producers until after he was cast.

8:56 p.m.: Greer Shephard on what makes "The Closer" so special: "One of the things that we try to do in development is look at the television landscape and see what the majority of writers and producers are doing and then go the other direction. And I think we saw a spate of very well done procedural shows but the star of [those shows] were the crime and the story. And you can see many characters revolve in and revolve out. It's funny, Kyra mentioned 'Prime Suspect.' And in fact that is an ancestor of this show. There was a spate of 'Prime Suspect' knock offs that were developed when I was at ABC, I was one of the people that tried to develop it. And we all made the same mistake which was that we created a female protagonist who was really a man with breasts. And I realized that mistake too late, but not too late for this. And the idea was to put forward an actual full bodied woman - one who has all those idiocracies - it was important to put out there a woman who was over 35 and who was not a mother and who was not married and who was still sexually active. That was also missing in the television landscape. And so it was sort of born out of a vacuum that we saw on television."

8:57 p.m.: Michael M. Robin on casting the show: "They put forth this character, this great character and she was somebody who was a bull in a china shop. And she was somebody who was going to make others around her have a reaction. And one of the things that we knew when we were casting the pilot was that we were going to need actors that could really work off of that and locate detail and locate character details that were not necessarily procedural but they were about how they personally felt about this hard charging character running through the middle of their squad, an outsider. And so what we started to do - and it's been a really wonderful sort of discovery process - is we cast actors who have... everybody up here has been part of a [theatre] company, everybody here has created great character work. And so one of the things that we have a lot of fun with on the show is that a scene will, we'll do a rehearsal for a scene and everybody knows what the marching orders are for their characters but then there's a discovery process where somebody will do something and everybody will have a reaction to it. And what's really fun is to watch the other actors see who's going to do what and then they can do something off of that. We find all this wonderful magic that I think is one of the big reasons that people really respond and makes this show different because it's - yes it's procedural but it's really good character piece."

9:03 p.m.: Kyra on what she initially saw in her character: "I saw someone who didn't apologize for her power. I saw someone who could be fierce and scary and delicate and frazzle. And I saw someone who was deeply flawed. And who was struggling to pull it all together and to make it all happen - to balance a personal life but also to just kind of struggle through social situations and personal situations and work situations. And muddling through and not doing it perfectly ever. And aware of certain things about herself and incredibly unaware of other things about herself. And in that character I see myself to a certain extent but I very much see someone who is very different from me as well. It's very important to me that she stay really, really real. Because I feel like, I don't want people to turn on the television and see 'me,' and I'm talking about Kyra, a show about a woman who's not real. It was just never something that interested me. And so I wanted [her] to be somebody people could relate to and to see her struggle all the time."

9:06 p.m.: James on the show's "fish out of water" attitude toward Los Angeles: "I like Los Angeles. But a lot of people don't. People go, 'don't go there, you might like it.' So I wanted to have a character in Los Angeles who could look at it in a more problematic way, the way most of America looks at it. And also I grew up in a place where there were a lot of intelligent people, who knew how to pronounce the word 'nuclear.' I don't care what your political party is you should know how to pronounce the word 'nuclear'... if you're the president. There were a lot of smart, talented people with Southern accents. But on television it was 'The Dukes of Hazzard' or nothing. So I thought it would be great to have a character who was sometimes the smartest person in the room, with a Southern accent. It was different for television."

9:09 p.m.: Gil Garcetti, a former two-term District Attorney of Los Angeles, details a unique experience on set: "I 'quote' approve the script. But I'm there and Michael's directing this episode in the first season. And it was a tough, long, long take with Kyra. And she was doing it time and again and time and again. And so I walked in a little late and I was listening to it. And we have an agreement, that if there's something wrong I tell the director, I don't go tell Kyra or anyone else. So Mike turns to me and says, 'What do you think?' I said, 'It's good but it's not really right and here's what I would suggest changing.' And then it's up to Mike. He looks at it, says 'you're right.' He walks over to Kyra and Kyra is being told and she looks over to me and she flips me off! But she got it on the first take."

9:16 p.m.: It's Q&A time. A question about the absent Robert Gossett prompts James to spill some details on the upcoming season: "The theme for this year is family. Last season was partnerships and this season is family. And [Commander Taylor's] role changes."

9:25 p.m.: Someone asks about the Kevin Bacon-directed episode from last season. "The only complaint I ever have about him when he's directing me is that he doesn't give me enough stroking because he probably figures I would know it," Kyra says. "But you take [that] for granted after you've been married for 18-19 years and that's a good thing, that's part of being married. But it's [sometimes] it's like, 'Dude, how was I in that scene?'" This prompts J.K. to add, "[He] always tells me how I'm doing. [Laughs.] Really, the two of them, it's just remarkable - they're a partnership in every sense of the word. Because I got to tell you, I love my wife to pieces but I couldn't work with her. [Laughs.]"

9:26 p.m.: Not to be outdone, Kyra remembers that they put "Kevin Sedgwick" on his director's chair for that episode.

9:27 p.m.: Scoop! James drops some more season three info: "The L.A.P.D. [in the show] is experiencing a 6% budget cut which means that all sorts of things are going to be cut back. And the reason that Taylor is going to be more family this year is because budget cuts unite everybody in terms of finding ways around them. It actually creates huge problems. And it's true, in the L.A.P.D. the brass will come down and say things like 'no overtime.' And well, what if your victims don't die between 8 [a.m.] and 4 [p.m.]? Like are you going to send out a little circular to homicidal maniacs asking them to cut back a little on the weekends? [Laughs.] And this is true. It's how the force works and that's going to create a lot of conflict, [the] budget cuts. And family arguments are a lot more intense than partnership arguments. And there are going to be some really intense family arguments. And as interesting as it is to see an antagonist and a protagonist go at it, it's even more interesting sometimes to see two protagonists fighting it out. And this year, the antagonism is going to come from a different place, a surprising place, a much darker and deeper and sadder place."

9:31 p.m.: And it's wrap! More fun tomorrow. And yes it's at 7:00 p.m. next time.

COMING THURSDAY: Showtime's "Dexter."

  [march 2007]  


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