Tag Archives: James Duff

For ‘Major Crimes’ Phillip P. Keene, Balancing Home and Work Life Has Extra Challenges

KeenePhillip P. Keene — that’s hunky surveillance expert Buzz Watson to fans of “The Closer” and “Major Crimes” — plays things close to the chest when it comes to divulging what is ahead for his hugely popular TV homicide investigating team. As the current season continues to unspool on TNT, “I can say we will see dead people,” he notes playfully.

The actor and former Pan Am flight attendant also plays things close to the chest when it comes to chatting about his work life at home and vice-versa. “It works out best that way,” he says — especially since his husband happens to be show creator/executive producer James Duff. They’ve been together for 21 years.

“I have an interesting position here, being one of the cast members and also being so close to one of the executive producers and creators of the show. I’m one of the godfathers to other creators’ children. I’ve got to walk pretty nimbly,” he notes. “I really do try to keep things as separate as I possibly can.”

How does that work? Well, some cast matters never leave the soundstage — not with Keene, anyway — according to him. Duff, meanwhile, “is in the office most of the time, not down on the set,” Keene points out. “When it’s time to be at home together, we give each other space. There are a lot of ways. Sometimes he’ll start conversations on the telephone, and I’ll just walk away. If I don’t see it, I don’t know about it, I can’t talk about it.”

At this point, such I-know-nothing moments are second nature for the affable actor — after seven seasons of “The Closer” and three of “Major Crimes.”
He’s enjoying his gig as much as ever, even after 10 years. “I guess the best part for me is I get to stay and play with the people I like being around,” he says. “We’ve really bonded as a family unit.”

Mary McDonnell Talks ‘The Closer,’ ‘Major Crimes’ and Emmy Nomination Discrepancy

Mary McDonnell TNT photo

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.