James Duff and Mary McDonnell on Shifting From THE CLOSER to MAJOR CRIMES
August 13, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
For THE CLOSER fans, tonight is going to be bittersweet — the long-running TNT series ends its run after seven years, but literally immediately after the finale ends, MAJOR CRIMES, THE CLOSER’s spinoff, debuts. And while the transition might seem natural — after all, THE CLOSER is going out on a high, only concluding because Kyra Sedgwick was ready to move on — THE CLOSER/MAJOR CRIMES creator James Duff told reporters that he wasn’t actually looking to spinoff Mary McDonnell’s Sharon Raydor when the idea was pitched to him.
“I never said [I wanted to make a spinoff],” Duff explained. “That was said to me by TNT, by [TNT's president] Steve Koonin, the day after Kyra said she was going to leave. I was feeling sort of blue, but not unhappy. I was very proud of what we accomplished with THE CLOSER and I knew I was writing the ending. I was trying to absorb all of that and then I got a call out of the blue from Steve Koonin saying, ‘We’re going to spin off THE CLOSER to a new show and it’s going to star Mary McDonnell and it’s going to be called MAJOR CRIMES and everything is going to work out really well. We’ll bring the cast along, you’ll love it.’ He said everything right there in that [phone call].”
Of course, nothing can ever be that simple in show business.
“I did say to [Koonin], ‘Have you talked to Peter [Roth, President of Warner Bros. Television] about this?'” Duff laughed. “I did have the presence of mind to mention my boss. But when [Koonin] said do you want to do that, I thought that sounded like a really interesting challenge. And I had a lot of prep to do it. They say a door closes and a door opens — that’s the marketing [for MAJOR CRIMES] — but it’s the absolute truth. I was sitting there, really, in the midst of thinking, ‘I had a very nice time’ when suddenly out of the blue I got an offer — though I have a friend that says there is no blue and nothing comes out of it — I got an offer to continue working with some of the best actors and the best crew that anybody could possibly imagine. It really has been a fantastic experience.”
For McDonnell, she acknowledged that the spinoff idea snuck up on her, too.
“I can’t remember [when I first heard about the spinoff idea],” she told reporters. “It just suddenly started to be in the air….[Duff] and I had been talking about doing something together and it warped into this.”
“Mary and I had been talking about doing something together, something out of THE CLOSER, but we had not been thinking about this,” Duff added. “And nobody had even suggested this and then suddenly here it was…”
“And we were in it before we knew!” McDonnell finished with a laugh.
MAJOR CRIMES debuts tonight at 10:06 PM on TNT. Let me know what you think of the pilot after you watch it!