‘What Would Sharon Raydor Do’ – Podcast #8 – Mary McDonnell w/ Guest Host Olivia Mell

Welcome to Episode 8 of ‘What Would Sharon Raydor Do?’, the podcast devoted to getting an in-depth view at Major Crimes Captain Sharon Raydor by the woman who knows her best, Mary McDonnell. This week’s guest host is Mary’s daughter, Olivia Mell.

In this episode, Mary and Olivia discuss the three-part Major Crimes summer finale “White Lies’.

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MCTV Exclusive: James Duff Previews Major Crimes Summer Finale and ‘Delicate Dance’ of Replacing Taylor

By M. Sharpe

Major Crimes Executive Producer and Co-Creator James Duff. Photo Credit: Mark Hill, Courtesy TNT When we last spoke to James Duff at the beginning of season five, he alluded to how the theme of this season of Major Crimes, balance, would have repercussions for everyone in the team. As the summer season wraps up tonight with part three of the summer finale, we caught up with Executive Producer James Duff to shed some light on some of the biggest changes we’ve seen so far this season (RIP Chief Taylor), and what we can expect both in tonight’s finale, and for the winter season of Major Crimes, and beyond.

MCTV: I would be remiss to start this off without asking about Taylor, and the shocking decision to kill him off in part one of this three-part summer finale. What lead you to making the decision to have Taylor’s death be such a catalyst in this arc, and as part of the season as a whole?

James Duff: There’s two things to discuss with this. Part one of that is, opening Taylor’s office was always my plan, so that was always going to happen at some point. Part two is that balance is the theme of all thirteen summer episodes – it links them all together. I couldn’t do a study on balance without including the balance of power, and without completely removing the balance of power and forcing a new center of gravity into the circumstances around which Major Crimes revolves. And this new center of gravity that the team is now looking to f26135_011 Major Crimes Ep 511 White Lies Pt. 1ind is going to be the subject of the next eight episodes–how we adjust to changes, who becomes the center, and how everyone must adjust to accommodate that new center.

History itself is the story of a succession of one center of gravity replacing another, and how people must adapt constantly to that sort of change. People either adjust, or they crash and burn. That’s just how it works. And so, Major Crimes is adjusting. And that will be the back eight episodes we’ll see this winter. That’s always what I meant to happen. And beyond that, there is a world beyond the adjustment of gravity, and so that would be our next season, if we end up getting one.

It’s also important to remember that the LAPD is a dangerous place to work, and police officers have an extremely dangerous job in this day and age. The Los Angeles Police Department trains hard to do the right thing, and to bring policing into the twenty-first century, but it’s still every bit as vulnerable as the bad police departments are. There’s no discrimination, apparently, between good police officers and bad police officers. Taylor also encompassed the essence of the blue/black divide, because he’s both. And both sides are damaged by this divide. And I’m not taking sides, I’m just dramatizing the divide that exists, and he was a very good way to dramatize that nobody wins when violence is the answer.

So Taylor’s death accommodated the two things I needed. One was to explore the balance of power and how it affects our daily lives, which is what part two of the finale was about. But, any meditation on the balance of power in our human life would require us to take into account religion, and its force in the world and on our leading characters. So both of these major events, Taylor’s death, the shooting of Dwight Darnell, the balancing of what we owe to our spiritual selves and what we owe to our professional selves, all of that was meant to create special circumstances for Sharon Raydor. And I think we did that.

MCTV: Speaking to that examination of religion, last week was a departure for the show, in that it both took on a different structure in how it was framed from Sharon’s confession, but also gave us a much closer look at Sharon than we’ve seen for a while. There has been hints that Sharon has this strong religious part to her, but this was the most overtly we’ve seen it, and also gave a bit more insight into the state of her relationship with Andy, and what she feels like she can and can’t talk to him about.

JD: To be clear, it’s not that she can’t rely on Andy to talk to, it’s just as she says, she can’t rely on Andy to talk to about the death of Dwight Darnell. And truly, she couldn’t rely on a lot of the audience, either. A lot of the audience would tell her, ‘Look, you did the right thing. Get over it.” I heard that from people after the episode aired. 512- priest raydor

But taking a human life is complicated, no matter the circumstances. For example, with the military, we have 20 veterans a day committing suicide, and a lot of it has to do with loss of life they are involved in. We train people to believe that murder is wrong, and then we send them out to kill people, and don’t understand why they’re confused afterwards. And so I thought it would be important to show Sharon in a moral quandary – wanting to feel grief for having stopped Dwight Darnell from killing anybody else through violence, which she’s always been hesitant to use, unless absolutely necessary. And she’s never killed anyone, and I wanted to explore that aspect of her personality.

Also, she’s very Catholic. That has been mentioned throughout the series. She was so Catholic she didn’t divorce her husband for over thirty years. She loves angels, that’s an established fact, and she sent Rusty to a Catholic school. She’s been very serious about her religion, although, this is a murder show, not “True Confessions” or anything like that, so we just haven’t seen it more than that. But if she and Andy were to perhaps want to do something more than just live together, that would create conflict for her. And so maybe there’s a reminder there, maybe I’m setting something up for the future, by reminding everybody about how Catholic she is.

MCTV: Going back to Taylor for a moment, we’re heard through some casting announcements that we’re going to see the power shift, and we’re going to see some new people come in to be in the running for his job. Are we going to get closure on the loss of Taylor at all, and the impact that death itself has on the team?

JD: Well, we will be talking about Taylor for ages to come. And there is an attempt to honor him in the summer finale in the first act. Not at a funeral, because we’ve already done that, when we went to the funeral of the Chief of Police. I don’t want to give away too much, but he will not be gone completely. He’s a member of the Major Crimes family and he’ll be treated that way throughout.

MCTV: In terms of the power vacuum, the Sharon of a few years ago had a lot of desire to move up the ranks. But now that we’re seeing this job having opened up, it’s hard to envision Sharon wanting to leave Major Crimes now that she’s established this great team, and everyone works together so well. How is this power vacuum going to affect her, in a desire to move up the ranks, or lack thereof? MAJOR CRIMES (TNT)

JD: It’s a delicate dance inside the LAPD when one of these positions opens up. If you get considered for a promotion, you have to try to get it because if you fail, you’ll lose what you have. And that happens all the time. It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but when new people move in to positions of power, then the people underneath them, who were also trying to get that position of power, end up with a lot of ‘freeway therapy’. They get transferred to Harbor Division or they end up at SOB (Special Operations Bureau) or teaching at the Police Academy. So in terms of a career path, it’s dangerous.

On the other hand, you don’t get to decide this. The Police Chief job is decided by the Mayor in concert with the city council and the police commission. The job of Assistant Chief is decided entirely by the Chief. There’s no one else to ask. So if he interviews you, and everybody knows you’re up for the job, then you’re exposed. That’s why we’re bringing on Camryn Manheim, and another actor I can’t announce yet, to all be in play for the job. But the struggle to replace Taylor, will also be a struggle to protect Major Crimes. Because a new Assistant Chief comes in, and the division changes. So Sharon is given a lot to think about in these back eight episodes this winter, and that influences how she has to react to being considered for the position. 504- buzz lr

MCTV: Switching just quickly over to Buzz, and his journey this season. We saw last episode that he’s really stepped up in this investigation and come into his own. Are we going to see more of that now that he has had a taste of being part of this side of the police work?

JD: Well, you’re going to see his realization that things are not over. That’s going to come back. So the conclusion of Buzz’s story is both final, and ambiguous. And Phillip has done an amazing job this season, and in the last scene of the case, he does an amazing job, and in the scene after the case, he does an amazing job. And also stepping up and showing he’s capable has been Julio Sanchez, as a foster parent. And we’re going to see just how much this new experience has meant to him in the finale.

MCTV: Finally, you mentioned that a potential season 6 would have a focus around the adjustment to whoever becomes the new chief, and how that appointment could change Major Crimes. There hasn’t been an announcement yet for season 6 from TNT. Any updates there?

JD: It’s impossible to know what the network consider their needs to be right now, and I can’t say for sure anything. They have not indicated a pickup for next season to me yet, so I really don’t know. I’m very happy overall with how we’ve managed our numbers this season, especially given the switch to 10pm. We did much better than we thought we would do and I think better than TNT thought we would do. It’s a bit of a win-win for us and hopefully the network will want to solidify their gains here and do it again.

The summer finale of Major Crimes airs tonight at 10pm/9c on TNT.

MCTV Presents: What Would Sharon Raydor Do? Podcast #7 with Mary McDonnell and Guest Host Greg LaVoi

Welcome to  Episode 7 of ‘What Would Sharon Raydor Do?’, the podcast devoted to getting an in-depth view at Major Crimes Captain Sharon Raydor by the woman who knows her best, Mary McDonnell. This week’s guest host is Greg LaVoi, the costume designer and wardrobe guru at Major Crimes.

In this episode, Mary and Greg answer questions about Season 5, Episode 9, “Family Law”, discuss how wardrobe choices are made, what role the actor’s input plays in costume selection, and how the costumes are used to tell the story.

We will be including a few listener questions on the podcast each week, and you can ask your questions below, on the MajorCrimesTV Facebook page, or tweet them to us @MaryMcDonnell10 and @MajorCrimesTV using hashtag #WWSRD, and tune in next week to see if your question is answered!

MCTV Presents: What Would Sharon Raydor Do? Podcast #6 with Mary McDonnell and Guest Host Kathe Mazur

Welcome to Episode 6 of ‘What Would Sharon Raydor Do?’, the podcast devoted to getting an in-depth view at Major Crimes Captain Sharon Raydor by the woman who knows her best, Mary McDonnell. This week’s guest host is Kathe Mazur, who plays DDA Andrea Hobbs. In this episode we dive in to episode 8 of Season 5 of Major Crimes “Off The Wagon”. Mary and Kathe discuss the episode, the relationship between their characters, and both character’s back stories. Get to know the characters and the women behind them.

We will be including a few listener questions on the podcast each week, and you can ask your questions below, on the MajorCrimesTV Facebook page, or tweet them to us @MaryMcDonnell10 and @MajorCrimesTV using hashtag #WWSRD, and tune in next week to see if your question is answered!

MCTV Exclusive – Inside the Fitting Room with Greg LaVoi – “Moral Hazard”

By M. Sharpe


Major Crimes costume designer Greg LaVoi

As part of our new weekly series “Inside the Fitting Room” we spoke to Major Crimes costume designer Greg LaVoi to get an inside look at the fashion and costumes behind last week’s episode, “Moral Hazard.”

MajorCrimesTV: The last few episodes have each taken place over several different days, and thus each character has had several different costume changes. In contrast, this episode took place all over one day, and as such, everyone (with the exception of the Jere Burns character) had just one costume all episode. It very much helped make it clear that the episode was in the same day, and it really contributed to the intensity of that.

Greg LaVoi: Exactly. In something like this, it’s such a real episode, very reality based, so you have to believe that that it’s real, and that the clothes are part of the story, but not in an obvious way. I love going to a film or watching a TV show where you don’t even notice the clothes because then I think that truly is a successful designer, having success with the clothes, and making them very real to the story.

MCTV: Sharon Raydor and the rest of the team just had the one costume throughout the episode. What was she wearing for this?

GLV: Sharon wore a pin-striped charcoal-grey Armani that we got last spring at Saks. It’s just beautiful, it’s grey flannel, and who doesn’t look good in grey flannel?

The dress is a wool crepe shift dress, and it’s actually “turtle green”, not black, and it’s by Akris Punto. In the store it looked black, and then when we got it to the office it’s actually this beautiful turtle green…it’s just wonderful.507- armani

MCTV: Patrice’s sundresses were such a breath of fresh air in this episode – bright and summery. How did you decide on them? Continue reading

MCTV Presents: What Would Sharon Raydor Do? Podcast with Mary McDonnell – #5

Welcome to episode 5 of the ‘What Would Sharon Raydor Do?‘, the podcast devoted to getting an in-depth view at Major Crimes Captain Sharon Raydor by the woman who knows her best, Mary McDonnell. This weeks episode discusses the last several episodes of Major Crimes, through episode 507 “Moral Hazard”.

We will be including a few listener questions on the podcast each week – ask your questions below, and listen next week to see if your question has been answered!

MCTV Exclusive: All That Sass – Kathe Mazur and Jonathan Del Arco Dissect Their Characters

By K. Black and M. Sharpe

hobbs morales

Over the years, DDA Andrea Hobbs and Dr. Fernando Morales have become valued parts of the Major Crimes team, and massive fan-favorites along the way. We chatted with Kathe Mazur and Jonathan Del Arco to find out just what makes their characters tick, and what all that sass is really about.

MajorCrimesTV: You guys are just about at the halfway point of filming for this season – how’s it all been going?

Jonathan Del Arco: I think we’re having an amazing season this year. I feel like the work is getting deeper and deeper for all of us, in different ways. And from my end, the work we do aside, I have gratitude to the fans right now for having continued to find us. The times keep changing, and you guys find us, the days change, and you find us, and I feel like that fed a lot of our enthusiasm to come to work, and the writers to write, and James to do all that he does because he knows you guys get it. And so, it’s very gratifying. Vis-a-vis the ratings and the fact that we’re crushing it, as it were, that way makes me very happy.

Kathe Mazur: I agree! I couldn’t have said it better.

MCTV: It seems like this move to 10pm this season has allowed the show to change tone a little bit, and allowed the show to explore some things a little more deeply.

KM: Well, to me, the very best of life is when you’ve taken an obstacle or something that you thought was going to be a problem and somehow it ends up creating a whole new opportunity. I think that in the work, and I think that in everything, that that’s the highest level because life is filled with obstacles. So, the thing that keeps amazing me about this crew, is that no matter what the obstacle is, it sort of ends up leading to something fantastic and unexpected, and I continually am amazed at how at every single step along the way of this journey that has happened.

504- morales raydor sanchez lrJDA: We all have had our share of anxiety about the change, because we were in the same time slot for so long. But, we have such great leadership in James Duff and Mike Robin, and we were all encouraged by them early on to say, “You know what? Let’s just hit it out of the ballpark and have the best year ever, and just focus 100% on creating an amazing work.” A “if you build it they will come” mentality. And it’s so great to actually see that happen, and it’s so rare, because television is not being viewed as much as other mediums these days, so it’s great to know that we were able to meet the challenge, and we were able to bond together to get through it, and here we are! It’s been fantastic. We’re very lucky.

MCTV: It has been! Now, I loving having the chance to talk to the two of you together, because both of your characters have both become such strong fan-favorites. Both of you are also known for your characters’ sass and for having a little bit more attitude than maybe we get to see out of some of the others. Was that something that developed in the characters for you over the years, or was it always sort of inherent in the writing? Continue reading

MCTV Exclusive: Inside the Fitting Room with Greg LaVoi – “Tourist Trap”

By M. Sharpe


Major Crimes costume designer Greg LaVoi

As part of our new weekly series “Inside the Fitting Room” we spoke to Major Crimes costume designer Greg LaVoi to get an inside look at the fashion and costumes behind this week’,s episode, “Tourist Trap”.

MajorCrimesTV: This episode was fun, because we got some glimpses of the team out of their normal office wear. Right off the bat in the opening scene we start with a crime scene at night, with the team wearing a great variety of jackets and overcoats. We don’t get to see those on them that often - what goes into selecting the outerwear for the characters?

Greg LaVoi: The key about outerwear for night shoots is either you need it or you don’t. 506- buzz provenza sykes taoBecause in Los Angeles, it’s either hot, or it’s not. And so, usually when we start shooting Major Crimes each season, it’s still spring, and the nights can be chilly. In this particular episode, we shot at a beach in Venice, in a parking lot for the restaurant. So I knew it was going to be chilly. Our producer, Mike Robin, always says our actors are not to suffer. So even though this was to air in the summer, we need to keep them warm while filming, which leads us to the jackets and coats.

Luckily the outerwear is character-driven. Generally when they need outerwear, it tends to be one, or one of a few regular options. For Provenza, it’s a very old London Fog raincoat. For Flynn, he has a cashmere topcoat that’s a favorite. For Tao, normally it’s a vintage plaid topcoat, which he did not wear on this particular night because he was in his tuxedo. For Sykes, it depends on what she wants to wear, and in this episode it was a  modified trench coat by Kooples, from Bloomingdale’s. And Buzz was in a brand new Theory cashmere topcoat that we found at Saks at the beginning of the season when we did our big shopping spree for the year.

MCTV: So a lot of these are kept in their closets for using over and over again?

GLV: In particular, Buzz and Sykes like to have a lot of coat options. Sanchez hardly ever wears a topcoat. Buzz has quite a nice coat closet and Sykes is building a pretty good one too.

506  - taoMCTV: You mentioned Tao’s tuxedo – he looked very dashing in that!

GLV: It’s so much fun to get an episode where there’s something a little different, and as the season goes on I’ve gotten a chance to design a lot of fun outfits for a lot of different scenarios. This in particular was great because he stayed in the tuxedo for three-quarters of the show. I brought in a couple different type of suits for Michael Paul Chan to try. One was a Theory, one was a Bar III, one was a Hugo Boss, and one was a Tommy Hilfiger. And the Tommy Hilfiger looked best on him and he liked it best. It was slim-fitting, and he has such a good physique to fit into slim suits anyway, so it was fun to find that suit that fit.

Then in the wardrobe meeting we have every week for every episode, Mike Robin, our Executive Producer, said, ‘Is there any chance we could have a little fun with Tao’s bow tie and cummerbund?’ And I looked at him and smiled and he said “Something plaid, perhaps?” So I will not take credit for the plaid bow tie and cummerbund because I was just going to dress him very straight, but Mike Robin of course tuned in on Tao’s penchant for plaids and it was a great decision from my executive producer.

MCTV: Was the plaid bowtie he wears something you then had to seek out to find?

GLV: We had to make that. I couldn’t find any really wonderful ties or cummerbunds. So I found some great black and white taffeta, and I had Esther, our fitter make them for it. And it was so wonderful. Michael Paul Chan did wrinkle up his nose when he first heard he was going to be wearing plaid accessories, but I said, well,  A: It’s your character and B: Mike Robin requested it, so his smirk turned into a smile.

506- cooper sykesMCTV: Speaking of outerwear, later in the episode we see Amy on stakeout in a much different type of jacket. What was the history on her brown leather jacket?

GLV: That was actually a relatively inexpensive jacket from Zara, and I love Zara. Zara fits Sykes in particular quite well so it was fun to find that and I liked the little bling on it. It looked good and she looked hot in it, especially sitting next to Cooper in all his J.C. Penny glory (laughs).

506- mcqueen armani watermark

Sharon Raydor’s featured costume this episode was a new Alexander McQueen coat, paired with an Amani skirt, and slate blue tee.

MCTV: Sharon had a few costume changes this episode, but two in particular stood out for me, especially the great black jacket. You mentioned a few weeks ago we’d see Sharon soon in a new jacket -was this it?

GLV: Yes, that is a brand new Alexander McQueen 2016 indigo cashmere coat. Her skirt was Armani, as was the slate blue tee shirt. She looks great in the repetition of items that she has in her closet and then you add a new beautiful couture type coat like this one, and it just amps up the look 100%. I’m excited to have that coat in her closet now.

MCTV:506- brown2 Then she had a great chocolate outfit, which I think we’ve seen before?

GLV: Yes. The top and skirt was both Armani, and we used it in the very last episode last season for Provenza’s wedding, and repeated it this season because it’s such a great look. Originally Mary didn’t like it, because she didn’t care for the color, and thought the brown would fade into the background. I said, ‘Mary, it’s brown. Who else in the show wears brown? You’re going to stick out.’ And she did, and now we love to use it. And then this time, it was paired with a crème Equipment blouse.

MCTV: I liked Hobbs’ blue dress – that seemed like a bit of a different look for her?

506 hobbs 2GLV: That was a new Diane von Furstenberg from Bloomingdale’s. It looked great, and Kathe loved the blue. Her blazer was Theory as well. And her necklace was from Marble Designs Jewlery, and it was a sterling silver calla lily with pearls. It was just beautiful. The designer, Sue Marble, is somebody that one of my crew members met on a trip and we bought jewelry from them and have loved using it this season.

MCTV: This episode also had some fun guest stars, especially with Julian Ovenden as the British reporter. How did you create his look?

GLV: He was wonderful. James Duff wanted him in plaid – he’d seen some reporter on CNN that is out in the field all the time in kind of a very subtle plaid shirt. My only other marching order on Julian was from Rick Wallace, one of our producers, saying his coat had to be a cross between a field jacket that somebody would wear in the jungle or out in the field reporting, as well as something that was weather-friendly in the sense that this is something he’d pack all the time on his trips and his assignments.

506 ovendenTrying to find that, in Los Angeles, in the spring is not easy, because you have to also have to have the actors take on what they would prefer. So, I had a range of coats, from real field jackets, military field jackets, to the old Abercrombie & Fitch style back in the 30′s and 40′s field style jackets to the newer ones, from waist length to the low knee, and every element had to come in play because our producers wanted one thing, the actor wanted another thing, and then I l liked another thing, so it was a tough assignment.

But Julian got the final vote, and again, it was from Zara, a really wonderful jacket in nylon, and to me, I’d call it a cross between a baseball jacket and a field jacket, because it had nylon patch pockets and knit collar and cuffs, but then it was almost thigh length, and it was just really cool. Again, I have to give it to the Europeans to say “Okay, we’re making this jacket that’s very unique but is also very wearable and very appropriate for any situation.”  So luckily Julian liked that and we got it on camera.

MCTV: The other Brits on the show were the tourist couple. Where there special considerations that went into selecting their costume?

506 - british wifeGLV: Yes. I did think about it a lot about how to dress them, especially Claire Branson (the wife). Her dress was by L.K. Bennett, and it’s one of Catherine Middleton’s favorite designers. She’s very known for the white dress with the midriff print, and I saw a similar dress I really liked on her, so we got this one from the collection. It was fun because I’m hoping that some time, when this season of Major Crimes gets to Britain, then maybe Kate will see it and say “Oh, that’s one of my dresses.”

506- middleton dressI love her work and I loved being able to put a real British designer on a British character, which I thought was fun. The little bolero jacket was also from L.K. Bennett, and the necklace was from the same designer that did Hobbs’. It’s sea glass and I just thought it was beautiful.

As much as my cast doesn’t always believe me, I give these characters a back story. Some of the cast don’t believe that I really think about this, but I do. I think about where they would shop and what they would buy for themselves. So I thought that this tourist picked this little piece of jewelry up at the beach on the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, based on what her character says in the episode. And she would have brought her little bolero with her, so that one was also from a British designer. For her second change into jeans, I thought she probably would have picked those up here in LA. And then her twin-set is Pure, from the Pure Collection out of Harrogate, England. I got them from the website, and it was pure cashmere. I loved that and she felt really apropos in the outfits.

We’ll be back next week with more from the costume department, and a discussion of the fashion from the next new episode of Major Crimes. For more information about Greg LaVoi’s career, check out our in-depth 2013 interview here, and follow him on twitter @GregLavoi.

Special thanks to TNT, Warner Bros and Greg LaVoi for making this segment possible.