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Kyra Sedgwick leaves home turf for ‘Closer’

Actress stars as LA homicide detective in new series
/ Source: The Associated Press

The character, not the crime stories, enticed Kyra Sedgwick to the title role in “The Closer.”

“She’s very much a fish out of water in Los Angeles, which is what I feel like. So I can relate to that,” says the actress, who grew up in New York and still lives there with actor-husband Kevin Bacon and their teenage son and daughter.

She stars as Brenda Leigh Johnson, a detective who brings considerable personal and professional baggage when she moves from Atlanta to head L.A.’s newly formed Priority Homicide Division.

Best known for her work in independent movies, Sedgwick “wasn’t looking to do TV.” But she thought the TNT series was more character-driven than procedural and that the pilot’s script was “really special.”

“And Kevin generously said, ‘I will stay home with the kids and I won’t work.’ And the kids are a little bit older now, though, of course, your kids always want you home,” she says on the lot where the series is produced.

Bacon will be doing more duty as house husband than he may have anticipated. High ratings have prompted a second-season order for 15 episodes beyond the original 13, which are airing Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern.

The executive producers are Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin, whose credits include “Nip/Tuck,” and James Duff, who previously collaborated with them on “The D.A.,” which aired briefly on ABC last year.

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti is a consulting producer on “The Closer” and Los Angeles Police Department detective Mike Berchem is the show’s technical adviser.

Extracting confessionsWhile creating the concept of a detective squad focused on obtaining the kind of compelling evidence in high-profile cases that’s most likely to result in convictions, Duff asked Garcetti how best to accomplish that.

“He said, ‘The best way is getting someone to confess,”’ Duff recalls, laughing.

“So we thought it would be interesting to create a character who would extract these confessions,” says Shephard. “And almost any time you’ve seen this portrayed it’s been a male, and a male who invariably resorts to some type of intimidation through the threat of violence or through actual brutality ... so our idea was, ‘What would happen if you made that character female and she did not have that at her disposal?”’

Sedgwick, who turns 40 Aug. 19, says the producers “were committed to making this character very real.”

“Whenever I watch any kind of crime story, any mystery or thriller, I’m always more interested in the characters,” Sedgwick says. “I’m not a detail-oriented person, so details fly right by me. I don’t try to figure out ’who done it.’ I’m more interested in how the people feel, what’s going on in their head and how they are affected by what’s going on.”

Johnson’s co-workers are a diverse group of men from different areas of law enforcement, led by her ex-lover, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons).

All have reasons to bristle at her personal and professional manners and methods.

“Television is the only place in America where all differences between gender and race have been completely solved and everyone works happily together,” Duff says. “That’s just not so. There are problems and we show them.”