G.W. Bailey Talks About His Involvement with The Sunshine Kids and MAJOR CRIMES
September 20, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
While many actors spend time doing charity work or donating to worthy causes, MAJOR CRIMES star G.W. Bailey (Provenza) has taken his commitment to The Sunshine Kids (a non-profit organization that helps children with cancer) incredibly seriously.
“I got involved [with the Sunshine Kids] about 27 years ago,” he told me. “The organization is 30 years old this year. When my goddaughter in Las Vegas was diagnosed at 12-years-old and through a set of circumstances, she was invited to an event [the organization held] in Colorado. We’re still [a] small [non-profit] compared to the monster big ones, but at that time, we were really small. The organization did only one national trip a year and she was invited. She had spent a year in isolation at home and so this was her first trip out that they had allowed her to go — she had to wear a mask the whole time and all of that. It really, really, really, had a major impact on her life, and how she dealt with her disease, and consequently had a major impact on all of us…It certainly changed my life and I’ve been doing it since.” (You can also see Bailey talk a bit more about the origin of his involvement with the charity here.)
These days, Bailey — who is now the Executive Director of the non-profit organization — shared that The Sunshine Kids gets 400-500 new kids on a national level (and countless more in the regional chapters), which has led to the organization putting on eight to ten major events a year. And while Bailey has been busy filming THE CLOSER and MAJOR CRIMES over the past few years, told me he tries to go on every trip he can.
“It’s a very intense and passionate time,” he explained. “You fall in love [with the kids] real fast; you get to know each other real fast because we all know it’s a very limited time, so the barriers come down real quick.”
I had the chance to witness a little bit of that during the recent Sunshine Kids excursion that had 28 kids coming out to Los Angeles for a week of adventures that included them being sworn in as honorary LAPD officers (complete with the LAPD band and a helicopter flying over) and then taken by police escort to the studio where MAJOR CRIMES is shot for further activities.
“We’re there to provide them with unique and exciting experiences that will have an impact on their lives when they’re in the middle of this battle,” Bailey said, noting that particular group of kids bonded quickly. “Make no mistake about it — it’s a battle. It’s an uphill battle; it’s nasty, painful. So it’s our job to try and get some smiles from them.”
“This wonderful staff we have, they go to great lengths to provide [these memorable experiences],” he continued. “It’s in the details — it’s not just the question of getting a hotel; you can rent a hotel. It’s not a question of getting Disney tickets; we can always raise enough money to buy Disney tickets. It’s not a question of going to a Broadway show. It’s a question of when we go to the show, having great seats, having a great meal before the show, and after the show, getting to meet the whole cast and go backstage. One-on-one. Unique, positive, fun experiences that is like no other they’ll ever have. That’s what our staff does. That’s the work they do. And I’ll tell you, they’re shameless because they’ll ask anybody for anything. They’ll beat down the door.” (And if you want to help, check here for more info.)
As for Bailey’s day job, he said he was pleased by the reaction he’s been getting to MAJOR CRIMES.
“Great feedback,” he said. “I’m not even on set now, so I don’t have to talk positive. When they pay me, I have to talk nice, but I’m not being paid so I can say what I want. I just came back from a trip…and the reaction is tremendous. I think, obviously, that can be proven or shown by the ratings. The ratings not only started strong as anticipated because we were immediately after THE CLOSER on the same night, but then they stayed strong and they increased. Everybody expected a good, strong falloff from the cushion-y debut when you’re right behind the number one show on cable. And it turned out to be the number one finale in the history of cable. And lo and behold it turned out to be the number one launch and just grew from there.”
“I’m sort of gauging this by [the local grocery store] Ralphs,” Bailey added. “I go to Ralphs market and how many people stop me in the aisle. And, of course, I’ve gotten to know all of the employees at Ralphs and they have no problem telling me what they think whatsoever. ‘That episode was OK, but…’ And it’s been absolutely tremendous. They were afraid they wouldn’t like it. They were afraid with [THE CLOSER star] Kyra [Sedgwick] gone, and lo and behold, they’ve embraced it.”
However, there is still no word on whether the show will return for a second season.
“The actors are the lowest on the totem pole, contrary to what the public thinks,” Bailey laughed. “We hear rumors…I can’t imagine them not picking it up. They have great affection for the show and they have great faith in it.”
As for this season, Bailey hinted that the show will be focusing on some of the other characters a little bit more as the year winds down.
“Provenza was very involved in the first [batch of episodes],” he said. [They spend some time highlighting the other guys because they're interesting characters. I think you'll find that the shows delve into their worlds a little bit more...The consistent B-story that continues to grow and I think the audience -- at least the people I speak to, which is anecdotal, not scientific -- really, really enjoy Graham [Patrick Martin], who plays Rusty, the kid and Mary [McDonnell (Raydor)] and the relationship as that grows with the squad. And that’s going to grow as well. I think that’s a great B-story the audience seems to have taken to and that continues to grow very strongly. And they like him. He’s a terrific kid and a wonderful actor.”
And with Provenza not being front-and-center, Bailey teased that might bring a little shift in his character’s relationship with Raydor.
“There’s no big battles coming up,” he said. “There’s one moment when he gets pretty aggravated about something. I think what we’ll find is a more tentative truce, and a live and let live attitude. And at one point, I think there will be some out-and-out support. Some very strong public support; he supports her on an issue.”
MAJOR CRIMES airs Mondays at 9 PM on TNT. And please, please, please be sure to check out The Sunshine Kids’ website…as you can see, these guys are doing good work.
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