Monday, December 1, 2014

Major Crimes Facebook Chat Recap with James Duff

James Duff, executive producer and co-creator of Major Crimes, manned Facebook tonight to field questions from fans about the show and his writing process for a live chat and this is the recap. 

Here's what we learned in this week's chat:

  • Annie Potts is in the winter season finale with Billy Burke playing Phillip Stroh. Potts plays an astrologer with a "special" computer program. 
  • Agent Fritz Howard will be back for three more episodes starting two weeks before Christmas. (Fingers crossed the proposed Major Crimes spinoff starring Jon Tenney as Fritz Howard gets greenlit by TNT)
  • The nine Major Crimes winter episodes will revolve around Hope as the theme.
  • Duff didn't rule out the potential guest appearance return of Detective Gabriel.

Here's James' answer to my question about why he chose to write about crime...a subject that's at the heart of Mystery Playground

James Duff Deborah Lacy so good to hear from you! Deborah asks why I chose to write about crime. And the answer is that I became somewhat obsessed with the genius of the justice system and all the different elements of law enforcement. It's endlessly complicated and I never know how what I'm going to feel at the end of each story.

If you want to read more about what will happen this season with Sharon & Flynnthe terrible Phillip Stroh or the writing process of MC, there is so much to check out

The rest of the recap is below. As usual, I've removed any references to this specific episode that may be construed as a spoiler. Because of the volume of questions, only James Duff's answers are included. He restates the questions in his answers so you can track all of the action. 

James Duff For those asking on Twitter, too, Rusty is getting paid as a production assistant on the television show Lt. Tao consults for.

James Duff Ilona Arcari asks what's the time difference between last week's episode and this week's episode. We play it as about five months, though it's really only three (as you know!)

James Duff Caryn C asks if we'll see a romance between Andy and Sharon. Please don't miss next week if you want to know what's going on between those two! They're trying to figure it out themselves.

James Duff Bill T asks if Fritz will be returning. The answer is yes, for three more episodes, starting two weeks before Christmas (or the week after next).

James Duff
Dr. Provenza!

James Duff Or, as we like to call him around here, Dr. Grumpy!!!!!
James Duff Actually, G.W. is one of the funnest people to be around ever. I can't tell you how often he's made me laugh. Outrageous! And kind.

James Duff After eleven in the morning. 

James Duff And for the record, this episode was written by longtime veteran, Michael Alaimo, a go to guy who can access the darker side of human nature without himself being dark at all.

James Duff
Our guest cast tonight is pretty amazing.

James Duff
I just want to go on the record here and say the young man playing the suspect we're looking for right now, Joey Pollari, is an amazing young actor who should have a brilliant career in front of him. I am sometimes wrong about the brilliant career part, but I am pretty good at determining who's a great actor when I work with them in the editing room. Joey is amazing. And his NO ROMEO speech speaks to our theme, which is the hope things won't change.

James Duff
This is a hope we cannot achieve.

James Duff Lydia RT asks if our cases are based on real police files, which goes a little to Audrey's question, too.

James Duff
The answer is a definitive sometimes.

James Duff When we have a real story, it usually comes from Det. Mike Berchem, who has been working with me on the shows for all eleven years. He is a former Det. inside the LAPD's Robbery/Homicide Division.

James Duff Tonight's story, isn't torn from the headlines

James Duff It's pulled from the heart.

James Duff
Audrey T asks how we come up with the storyline for a show like the one we're telling tonight. Usually, we start with a question that revolves around a section of our them, which in our nine winter episodes revolve around hope.

James Duff And the theme for tonight is the hope that things won't change. Which is why Rusty is about to scare Sharon.

James Duff Because he doesn't want to quit his job and continue on to college because of something he heard at work.

James Duff
Dawnn Lewis plays the grandmother in the hospital with Provenza by the way. She's a wonderful performer and a great person to have on our sets. Everyone loves the Dawnn!

James Duff
Cathy K asks if we'll ever see Det. Gabriel again. Never say never say I. Corey Reynolds is a fantastic actor shooting a couple of movies this year. And I think he has the charisma of a film star. If he has an availability and the show is the right show...

James Duff Suzanne R points out that teens exiting the foster care system as Rusty did, usually do so without any kind of personal infrastructure to keep them going. It is impossible to overstate the importance of a supportive family in one's progress through life.

James Duff We have tried to responsibly use Rusty to highlight the issues of foster children. As an adopted child myself, Rusty's issues mean a lot to me.

James Duff Stephanie G asks if Rusty ever testified at the Phillip Stroh trial. No. But we did see him testify at Phillip Stroh's pretrial hearing.

James Duff
Phillip Stroh is working on his deal.

James Duff And then maybe he'll only get to interview Rusty.

James Duff Which would be his right since Stroh is taking over his own defense.

James Duff Teri D says she wishes there would be a return of Rusty's shrink. She's in luck. Bill Brochtrup returns in an episode featuring a great scene between him and Provenza. We love Bill.

James Duff Mystery novelist, Evelyn David, asks if she has seen Judge Ridgewood before on the show. Yes! He has appeared in several episodes of The Closer and Major Crimes. I love, love, love Steve Tom, the actor who give the role such authority.

James Duff Why is Steve Tom not the star of his own show? I ask because he's such an amazing actor.

James Duff We're very lucky to have so many wonderful and stupendous players in our recurring repertory.

James Duff Andrea M asks if we will see the horrible Phillip Stroh again. The answer is yes! He will appear in the last two episodes of our winter season, January 12th and January 19th.

James Duff Tracy Gilbert Gardner asks why the brass on our show sometimes wear uniforms and sometimes don't. That's a great question. And the answer is because it depends on what the commanding officers or the LAPD are going to be doing when they go to work.

James Duff
Typically, when talking to the press at a dangerous crime scene, they tend to be in uniform.

James Duff So it is in real life, so it is on our show.

James Duff The commanding officers of the PAB are often dressed entirely in civilian clothes for days at a time. And then, appear in uniform for the next week, because of the needs of the job.

James Duff
Holly M asks why the shows are not on Hulu or Netflix. The short answer is The Closer is on Netflix and maybe Major Crimes will be on another platform before very long. I know you can download them on iTunes, but that costs money.

James Duff I don't download any television shows myself! Even my own!

James Duff But I'm often considered thriftier.
James Duff than my friends.

James Duff Renee Elliott wants to know if we'll be addressing more of Flynn's back story and meet his kids. Next week, you meet Flynn's daughter when she comes to the PAB's Murder Room to ask for advice from Sharon.

James Duff
Eileen M. L wants to know how many episodes do we air in our winter season. Nine! We have nine episodes. So eight to go, counting tonight. And our big finale with Billy Burke as Phillip Stroh and Annie Potts as an astrologer with a special computer program.
James Duff @Katie F asks if Rusty is going to have a relationship. He certainly seems to have a crush. But he's not the only person with a crush in this episode...

James Duff
@Evelyn David, who's quite a great mystery writer in her own right, by the way, says Julio looks a little tense, and that maybe he needs a spa day. Keep that in mind as the season unfolds. Julio's temper is becoming something of an issue.

James Duff
Ashli G asks if we'll see more of Rusty's other mother - the other Sharon in his life - and the answer is she'll hopefully be back next summer.

James Duff The answer is yes. Their relationship has to change because now they are family, and that should bring them closer together.

James Duff Alex M likes that Rusty and Sharon are now concentrating more on the ordinary details of daily life, and wants to know if their relationship will change now that Rusty has been adopted.

James Duff And Sharon is certainly interfering in Rusty's life right now the way a mom would interfere. Or, at least, that's my experience.

James Duff I'll be back next week with more of our actors! Thank you for joining me and thanks for all your extremely kind compliments to our cast, writers, and show. And thanks to Rick Wallace for his sensitive direction!

Duff says he will be back on Facebook next week with actors from the show. 

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