Letter from James Duff
Dear Friends of The Closer/Major Crimes,
First and foremost, I would like to thank you personally for sticking with this show for the last eight years, through changing governments, foreign wars, the world financial crisis and the advent of competing social media markets. Your loyalty and appreciation allowed me to examine the world through the eyes of Deputy Chief Leigh Johnson, and to fully explore her unique perspective on the American justice system.
People have been asking me – quite a lot lately – about my favorite moments from the series. My answers might surprise, because these moments hardly ever have anything to do with getting the murderer, or figuring out the crime, but what happened when Brenda's personal life overwhelmed, and she was no longer able to completely distract herself with work; when she had no alternative but to turn and face the conflicts in her marriage, her family and her own heart.
So while some people tell me how much they love the interview in Ruby, or the contest with the visiting detective from El Paso, I think of when Brenda first met Kitty, and the face she made; when she accepted she could marry Fritz without entirely losing her own identity; when her parents came to visit and she had to find time to honor her familial relationships; when she fought the death of her cat; when she lost someone she dearly loved; when the mistakes she made at work finally and irrevocably invaded her home; when, in the finale, she identifies so strongly with an unexpected witness, she can never be the same.
In fact, the entire arc of Brenda’s character (and the series itself) was always leading to that exact moment: an explanation to her husband of what happened during her day at work, and how the manner in which she identified with an unusual young witness left her morally exhausted, as well as filled with grief and regret.
The Closer, for me, has always been about the tension between idealism and pragmatism, which are perfectly expressed in the ideals of our justice system, and daily dramatized to us as individuals by the pressures to balance our professional and personal lives. In this way, Brenda’s journey has been that of nearly every adult on the planet, even if her stakes were always slightly elevated by murder.
Before saying farewell to this show, I should add that, in addition to the brilliant Kyra Sedgwick, the other actors (most of whom are joining us on Major Crimes) formed a tight and incredibly gifted cast, and were recognized five times for their work as an ensemble. J.K. Simmons is my good friend, my peer and another of my alter egos (yes, I’m afraid there’s a lot of Pope in me, too), and a demon at the card table. The only proper response to hearing J.K. wants to work with you is, “Thank God.” I just returned from Jon Tenney’s wedding – three thousand miles there and back over the weekend – and while I was there, spent some quality time with Tony Denison, who I’ve known for the past fifteen years (and three thousand games of Words With Friends). Raymond Cruz and I had dinner last night because our respective spouses were out of town; Ray and Phillip Keene tracked down my grandmother’s 1955 Chevy Belair, and are busy rebuilding it for me as a present (can you believe it?). Corey Reynolds, who was the youngest of our cast when we started, has grown with his enthusiasm and has the kind of screen charisma that movie stars can only envy. Michael Paul Chan is the adult on our call sheet, the person I would most likely go to for a second opinion, and brims over with positive energy and humility. Robert Gossett and I have also become close, especially during the first year of the show, as we share many of the same personal challenges. Jonathan Del Arco has long been one of my best friends – we often vacation together – and I am extremely proud of of how well he’s performed during some of his recent speaking engagements (especially for his June appearance at the FBI.) Mary McDonnell, who came late in our run for just a friendly visit, stayed for the last three years, and added dimension, depth and an Emmy nomination to the list of things we managed to accomplish. Finally, I must pay tribute to one of the most influential people in my life: my mentor, teacher and great, good friend, the masterful G.W. Bailey. He inspired me as a teenager, he put up with me as a young adult and he has worked to make Lt. Provenza one of the most memorable characters in detective fiction; to me, he has succeeded.
The best thing about all of this? Mary McDonnell, G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Raymond Cruz, Michael Paul Chan, Phillip Keene, Jon Tenney, Robert Gossett and Jonathan Del Arco will all be around when The Closer spins off into Major Crimes. This family of actors, with whom I have shared the last eight years of my life, are staying with the LAPD, and taking on a bigger mission. While The Closer generally wrapped up with a final interview, Major Crimes must reach further into the process. I look forward to exploring the justice system by seeing how it works when people play as absolutely by the rules as they can. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to what came before. Let us ask ourselves, and also ask our collective conscience, given a serious lack of funding, what kind of bargains is the justice system designed to make? It’s a new and different way of looking at murder, and part of the authentic change occurring inside the public sector (independent of which party is in power).
So in addition to thanking you for your past attentions, I am also offering you another invitation, or, rather, asking for another hour of your week. Starting in mid-August (on Mondays, at nine o’clock, in the space The Closer used to occupy) we will examine what life is like for the characters who inhabit Major Crimes, and how they adapt to change and challenge. And we’ll be welcoming two, new permanent cast members, Graham Patrick Martin, who (in the character of Rusty Beck) changes Brenda’s life forever, and then does the same for Sharon Raydor, and Keearan Giovanni, the sensational Broadway musical performer who’s taking on the role of Det. Amy Sykes.
For now, The Closer begins the countdown to its last six episodes. And then, immediately after the finale, in the very next minute, we begin Major Crimes. One door closes and another opens. We hope after you say good-bye, you’ll stop in and say hello.
Very truly yours,
Executive Producer/Creator/Writer for The Closer and Major Crimes