[Update: Series ratings remained strong in week 2, and posted viewer gains for week 3, the latest episode of the show, which was basic cable's No. 1 program Monday, averaging more than 5.7 million viewers.]
Mary McDonnell, up for Emmy honors for her work on “The Closer,” admits, “It was kind of a bizarre situation” to find herself accepting congratulations — even as she felt the sting of disappointment over her cast mate and friend, Kyra Sedgwick, being overlooked by the TV Academy voters for the first time in five years.
“She deserves everything in terms of recognition; her work was so extraordinary last year. I was very shocked by the nominations, frankly. I just assumed she’d receive one. But,” McDonnell is quick to add, “Kyra could not have been more gracious to me in expressing her happiness about mine.”
McDonnell is an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series nominee. Sedgwick won for her work as lead actress last year.
With Sedgwick having decided this will be her final “The Closer” season, and McDonnell all set to pick up where she leaves off with her spinoff show, “Major Crimes,” next year, there could be an awkward dynamic between the two actresses. But McDonnell stresses, “The beautiful part of it is, this is developing totally with Kyra’s blessing and totally at her choice — when she felt she needed to leave — and nobody is going to try or come remotely close to repeating the iconic nature of ‘The Closer’ as it is now. It will be interesting to see how ‘Major Crimes’ is going to evolve into its own entity.”
Will the rest of the current cast — the “Closer” family — be part of that new entity? Answers McDonnell, “My hope is, all of them will be. I actually feel like that is what will happen. I think that is what will happen. And I know that is the goal of James Duff, the creator.” She says she’s looking forward to exploring the chemistry between her character, Internal Affairs Captain Sharon Raydor, and the guys on the “Major Crimes” team. And then there is her relationship with Kyra — as this season’s storyline goes into more and more difficult territory for her increasingly in-trouble Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson.
“We’re really lucky, aren’t we?” McDonnell says, speaking of the dynamic chemistry and sparks that fly between the two leading ladies. “The thing that was clear right from the beginning — which is, I’m sure, the reason all this started to happen — is that for some reason, we trusted each other. I think that’s a tough thing to find in Hollywood: this innate trust It was just there. I think that was a gift for us both.
MEANWHILE: Kyra Sedgwick doesn’t rule out visiting “Major Crimes” as Chief Brenda at some point. However, she tells us, “I think it would be a long time before that would happen. I want to let them stand on their own two feet for awhile.”
BY GEORGE: Proving that you just can’t get too much of a good dog, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3″ is en route to production. Since George Lopez has already talked about the possibility of a third “Chihuahua,” it looks like he will reprise his role as brave and noble little Papi for this direct-to-video production, as he did for the second flick.
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: They’re redoing the pilot of CBS’s fall-debuting “Two Broke Girls.” That’s the series, produced by Whitney Cummings, about two young waitresses from very different backgrounds who strike up a friendship as they work at a Brooklyn diner.
A funny reality show concept is in the preproduction stage at the Oprah Winfrey Network — OWN’s own flash musicals show. Currently being sought are people who have things they’ve just gotta get off their chests in a significant way — “I’m sorry,” say, or “I’m pregnant” or “I want to date you” or “I quit.” The show will arrange break-into-song musical numbers for lucky participants (who get $100 a day on top of it!), numbers that could occur anywhere. Shooting will take place in November.
Kyra Sedgwick tells us that she and her “The Closer” compatriots have yet to succumb to the feeling of the show’s days being numbered — despite the fact that they’re shooting their final season. “I think everyone is in a healthy state of denial. It’s a long year. It’s like a network year, and we’re not even half-way through shooting,” she says of the 21-episode season that premieres tonight (7/11) on TNT.
“Having to say goodbye — I think that’s going to be rough. I’m sure the last few episodes will have their share of boo-hoo moments, as well as picking fights,” adds the Emmy-winning actress, who celebrates her 23rd anniversary with husband Kevin Bacon this September. “I don’t know about anyone else, but with Kevin, I still have to pick fights — silly little fights when we have to spend time apart, I guess trying to make it easier to separate,” she admits. With her “The Closer” series family, “having spent seven years together, it’s going to be emotional. The quality of the time is really more than you spend with your real family. We’re going to miss each other terribly.”
This season’s “The Closer” will have Kyra’s inimitable interrogator extraordinaire, Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, doing something breathtakingly ununusal among TV’s legions of audacious, rule-bending cops. She is going to have to face up to the consequences of her audacious, rule-bending actions.
Kyra says she agreed to do the extra episodes because creator James Duff “really wanted to end with an epic journey. I wanted to be supportive of that.” There will be cliff-hangers along the way — when the summer’s run of “The Closer” closes, and its winter run, culminating at last with the series finale next summer.
Expect Brenda to seriously break down along the way. Kyra has already shot the episode in which it happens, and says, “That was a rough one. That was a really rough one. That was one I carried around for a few weeks before we shot it. I was fortunate I had to weekend to relax afterward. That was something I was happy to let go once I did it.”
After decades of juggling motherhood and her career, “The Closer” star Kyra Sedgwick says she’s getting used to life as an empty nester with husband Kevin Bacon.
“You know, it’s been okay so far,” observes the actress, whose son, Travis, turns 22 this week, and whose daughter, Sosie, is 18 years old. “For one thing they come home a lot, on spring break and such, which is great. My son is actually done with college now so he’s around. They’re home, but they’re not really home. It’s a little confusing. But you know, once they actually leave, go away to school, it’s never quite the same. It’s a huge transition, to no longer be a day-to-day parent. That’s done forever.”
Kyra acknowledges, “It’s a loss, but you also get to figure out, I guess, what fulfills you as a solitary person, and in being in a marriage without the children there. It can be a time for growth, but that doesn’t mean it’s super easy.”
As for more romance? “Oh, for sure!” she answers with a laugh. “Absolutely.”
Right now, Kyra is six epsiodes into shooting the final 21 of her acclaimed show, which returns to the TNT lineup July 11 — with a promise, according to her, of this being the most dramatic season ever. The reason she agreed to additional episodes in the final year? Creator James Duff, she says, “really wanted to end with an epic journey. I wanted to be supportive of that.”
Kyra Sedgwick reports that she and hubby Kevin Bacon and their 21-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter will soon be taking off for a holiday vacation together in Belize — and she can hardly wait “to have our children in our clutches again for a week or so. Nothing feels better and safer to me than being surrounded by my husband and children,” says the Emmy-winning “The Closer” star, whose series returns with new episodes a week from tonight (12/6).
Kyra admits she’s still adjusting to having an empty nest at home in New York, now that daughter Sosie’s off at college. “My life is definitely changed — now I guess I’ll have the chance to see what that change means.”
One thing she already knows is that “It makes it easier to leave town, there’s no question. I won’t be torn for six months, feeling like, ‘Oh, I’m leaving my kids at home and I’m such a bad mother.’”
She’s speaking, of course, of her “Closer” production schedule, which keeps her in Los Angeles much of the year. Asked whether she can see the end on the horizon after six years of the acclaimed TNT drama, she answers, “I think the show continues to be amazing. I mean, we went up in viewership 20 per cent last year, which is unusual.” To say the least! Small wonder “The Closer”‘ is already picked up for next season.
The latest “Closer” mini season begins with a crackling episode that throws a few curves, and sets the stage for her beguiling Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson Brenda to take a promotion that her husband (Jon Tenney) and colleagues believe she should want. But, “Everyone is projecting their dreams and aspirations on her, that’s what makes her feel alone this season,” the actress notes. “I think that she is sort of fighting against the promotion. It’s complicated for her.”
Kyra’s latest activities include the video she and Kevin made in support of gay marriage. “Love is so rare these days. To find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with is a rare and wonderful gift, to opposite it is so dead wrong to me,” she explains.
And they include her role as a reporter in the big-screen “Man on a Ledge” with Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Elizabeth Banks, shooting in NYC. As for playing a character different from Brenda, she laughs. “She’s a hoot. I’ve really been enjoying it. I love Brenda, but I enjoy having an affair.”
EMMY AFTERMATH: Kyra Sedgwick, savoring her Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for “The Closer,” had husband Kevin Bacon close by her side throughout the evening, even standing off-stage, sipping champagne as he watched her field questions in the press room. The couple isn’t getting togetherness time on her series set this year, however. Kevin isn’t directing any episodes of “The Closer’s” Season 6 because he’s busy with his own projects, according to Kyra. And their daughter Sosie, 18, isn’t coming back to the show in her role as Kyra’s niece – she’s too busy with her freshman year of college getting underway. Son Travis, 21, also flew the nest awhile ago. So this year, unlike the past five years of her “The Closer” duty, Sedgwick isn’t facing mixed emotions about leaving the family in New York to shoot her series in L.A.
Now that she finally has her Emmy, what honor could come next? The actress has heard there’s “talk of a wax museum figure. That’s a little strong, I think.”
Seriously, she’s happy focusing on the show and her now-iconic character, deputy police chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. “I’m always pushing for the personal stories. As an actor, that’s why I’m doing the job,” she observes. “I was offered procedurals in the past. The personal aspect is what got me on board our show. I think that’s the key to success.”
That and its truly Outstanding star.
AND: It’s nice to see Aaron Paul acknowledged with an Emmy for his first rate supporting work on “Breaking Bad” – particularly knowing what a grinder the role of drug-selling Jesse has been for the actor. Playing Bryan Cranston’s hapless partner in crime, Paul’s been roughed up, knocked down, thrown through a screen door that didn’t quite go the way the stunt was planned and generally left bruised and scraped more times than he could probably count by now.
Emmy nominations ballots are due in today (6/21), and “The Closer” star Kyra Sedgwick’s name is certainly among those being bandied about by awards pundits. For instance, ABC News’ website prominently featured Reuters scribe Janelle Tipton’s commentary calling it “a crime” that Sedgwick hasn’t won an Emmy for her portrayal of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson as yet — despite having been nominated each of the seasons the hit TNT series has been on.
“I love that, that’s so nice,” responds a smiling Kyra. “It’s really amazing to get nominated — and the fact the show has had consistent nominations is really, really great acknowledgement for all the hard work, and we’re so appreciative of that. But I have to admit, it would be nice to hear my name called.”
A factor in her favor is that Season 5 of “The Closer” was “really an emotional season, starting with the death of Brenda’s cat – this creature that she didn’t want, that showed up on her doorstep, that she took in begrudgingly, but then connected to despite herself. There was her Dad having a heart attack, her relationship with her niece, Charlie, the death of the boy in the second to last episode, ‘Maternal Instincts.’ Every time she let someone into her heart, something happened and it’s devastating.”
Now Kyra is six episodes into shooting of Season 6, which debuts July 12.
Leaving her family – husband Kevin Bacon and their son and daughter – behind in New York while she was shooting the series in L.A. filled her with mixed emotions in the past. “But it’s easier this year because my daughter – our last kid – has graduated from high school. Everyone is off to fly the nest and as horrific as that makes me feel – it makes me want to cry just saying it out loud – my people on the East Coast don’t need me so much.”
Being college bound, daughter Sosie won’t be returning to “The Closer” this season to reprise her role as Kyra’s wayward niece. And Kevin, who has directed episodes of the show in the past, is sitting out this season because “he’s busy with a lot of his own things going on,” says Kyra.
Tony Shalhoub reports that his one-time “Monk” costar Bitty Schram is due to make her much-talked-about return to the USA Network series in early September, and “We’re all looking forward to that. We’re all excited to see what the writers have cooked up.”
Fans of the show were upset back in the midst of its third season when Schram was suddenly let go under the official line that the “Monk” creative team wanted to “go in a different direction.” Later reports revealed that she’d been among the supporting players in a renegotiation wrangle with the network, which chose to take a hard line against her. Her Sharona Fleming character was replaced by Traylor Howard’s Natalie Teeger.
“It will be great for the audience to have her back,” Tony feels. “We’ll see how that character has changed, what the dynamic might be between Sharona and Natalie. Something tells me they’ll be really good friends.” Both, of course, have had to deal with Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive detective character’s idiosyncrasies in an up close and personal way.
Will it be awkward for the cast having Schram back? “Oh, no. I don’t think it will be awkward at all. I’ve spoken to Bitty through the years, especially around the time Stanley Kamel passed away,” Tony says, referring to their costar who died last year. “She was close to him, too. There’s no bad blood. Nothing but good.”
FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: Corey Reynolds, who is currently starring on TNT’s “The Closer,” admits he misses working on Broadway, but the perks of television are just too good to pass up for the time being. “I have a tremendous desire to get back to the stage. I received a Tony nomination for my work in ‘Hairspray,’ which was my Broadway debut. That was a lot of fun, but now I’m kind of in that stage where I’d like to win so the right project would have to come along at the right time,” says Reynolds. “I will say this – the paychecks aren’t even close to what you get paid in television. It is a deterrent for a lot of my friends. I was just talking with my buddy Matt Morrison, who was in ‘Hairspray’ with me. He’s now starring in the new show ‘Glee.’ We were reminiscing about how different life is as a working New York actor compared to what it is as a working L.A. actor. We can both breathe a little easier for the time being.”
For now, Reynolds is focused on his work in “The Closer” where he tells us he’s trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. “I’m the young guy of the bunch and I’ve had the least experience in the business. It’s been so great working with so many seasoned actors. I didn’t go to college so these guys are kind of like my professors. I’m just trying to get that kind of longevity myself,” he says. “Luckily I landed on a very supportive show. G.W. Bailey has told me many times that it’s a blessing and a curse that this is my first experience on a television series because he reminds me often that they’re not always like this.”
WEB BITS: Heidi Montag’s recent Twitter tweets include this bold declaration: “we have the right to bare arms! this is america!!!!! FREEDOM!” Do you think she wrote about that ’cause it’s summer and long sleeves can be hot? Probably not, since she linked to a story about citizens surrendering guns.
In fact, knowing that our readers are a literate lot – and that as such, you probably grimace, as we do, over the widespread mindless mangling of grammar and spelling on the internet – we invite you to point out egregious examples made by folks in the public eye. Go to the Celebrity Gaffes section of BeckSmithHollywood.com to post your comments.
Nice to see news that Robin Williams will top off his September-launching comedy tour with an HBO special at year’s end – especially considering it’s only been four months since his surgery to replace an aortic valve. Williams shows off his scar and re-enacts his bike ride with Lance Armstrong last March, just three days before his hospitalization, on the video he and the cycling legend made on Armstrong’s bus between legs of the current Tour de France. “Lance, wait! Lance,” Robin wheezes, “wait for me!” And Armstrong notes that it’s lucky Robin didn’t die that day. No doubt Robin’s years of being an avid bike rider have helped him bounce back from his operation. The video, posted on Livestrong.com, also demonstrates that Williams is back in fine comedic form, as he cracks up Armstrong, mocking his compression socks and otherwise acting up in various character voices.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster