Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Major Crimes Co-Creator, James Duff, and Friends

James Duff, Detective Mike Berchem, Kathy Mazur, Jonathan Del Arco, Domani Johnson, Kendall Sherwood and Adam Belanoff

I had an amazing chance to talk with James Duff, the co-creator and head writer for TNT's Major Crimes (and The Closer) last week. He brought a few friends with him - Jonathan Del Arco (who plays Dr. Morales), Kathe Mazur (who plays DDA Hobbs), Detective Mike Berchem (a former detective who helps the writing team with plots and details), Damani Johnson, (the newest writer to join the Major Crimes team), Kendall Sherwood (who joined the team as an intern at the beginning of The Closer and now writes episodes - this is the only job she's ever had!) and Adam Belanoff (writer of many episodes, including the famous Flynn and Provenza leave a dead body to go to a Dodger game storyline. That episode is brilliant. Brilliant). 

This post is part one. Come back for Part Two on Monday, November 24th so you can more tidbits from James Duff and company, and we can also celebrate the return of the winter season of Major Crimes

James and the team was so genuinely excited to talk about the inner-workings of the show and share it with us. We had a pre-panel session with bloggers who loved the show. James had everyone sit in a circle so we could ask questions and get the answers about our favorite show. 

Jonathan Del Arco and Kathe Mazur
Jonathan Del Arco and Kathe Mazur played off one another and seem to be so comfortable. I'm thinking we need to figure out how to get more scenes with Dr. Morales and DDA Hobbs together. 

Jonathan says that the actors rarely go off script when filming because the show is a mystery, you can't mess with much, or you might unravel the puzzle. 

But that doesn't stop Jonathan from making the most of the fan favorite Dr. Morales. At one point James said that Jonathan is so good at doing eye-rolls, you can hear him making an eye roll from down the hall. I asked Jonathan if he can do an eye-roll on cue. He said he can and does. We'll have to get that on video next time...

Jonathan Del Arco and Kathe Mazur
Kathe Mazur's DDA Hobbs is a powerful character on the show in that her character is directly responsible for the shift from closing cases on The Closer to the art of the deal on Major Crimes. Hobbs even saved Brenda Leigh Johnson's job (played by Kyra Sedgwick) by making sure she got another job in her department after she frames Stroh with DNA with the help of Dr. Morales. (Dr. Morales only agrees after DDA Hobbs tells him it is only being used to get a confession and that it won't be used in court.  If you don't know what I am talking about, you need to go watch all of the episodes of The Closer. Start at the beginning. You'll be glad you did.) 

Duff said that the team had struggled to find the perfect actor to play a DDA character because there is so much terminology and you also need character development. Kathe delivers.

In addition to playing our favorite DDA (Duff admitted to us that Kathe was his favorite DDA too). Kathe also narrates audio books. She has narrated multiple mysteries and thrillers, including books from Tess Gerritsen and April Smith. 

Duff was generous with hints and  subtle spoilers, so stop reading if you want everything this season to be a surprise...

Philip Stroh

When we asked about the impending return of super villain Philip Stroh (played by Billy Burke), Duff said that this storyline will be resolved. But he also said that neither Sharon nor Rusty will like the resolution. 

Stroh is a smart man. He tells the police that three people will die and in return he wants immunity and to talk to the material witness - that's Rusty. Apparently according to California law, a person in Philip Stroh's situation has the right to face material witnesses, which means Rusty will have to sit down with Stroh. Of course, he doesn't want to do it, and Sharon isn't happy about it either. 

Sharon & Flynn

"Sharon and Flynn are friends," says James Duff. "Or are they?"

If you want to hear what else Duff said about "Shandy," you'll just have to watch the video below...

Here's a slightly blurry selfie with Damani Johnson and me. Duff said that Damani got the writing job on Major Crimes because he wrote a fabulous pilot script. Of course, I forgot to ask what the pilot was about. Was it the hoped for Jon Tenney (Fritz) spin off, SOB? Or is there something else in the hopper? 

Oh, missed opportunities. 

On Twitter, you can find Kathe Mazur @kathemazur, James Duff @JamesADuff and Jonathan Del Arco @jonathandelarco.

Don't forget that Major Crimes is back next Monday on TNT for nine sure-to-be fabulous episodes. We'll have the next installment of our meeting with the Major Crimes team, this Monday morning to celebrate the show's return, and our regular Major Crimes Facebook chat recap on Monday night.