The Closer
Garbage bags stuffed with bodies boasting neither heads nor hands, mysteriously missing human organs (perhaps black-market booty?) and a steel magnolia of an LAPD deputy chief lassoing in her increasingly short-tempered police squad — all this and more is going down in the swanky new Major Crimes Division murder-room set of TNT's The Closer on a sunny June afternoon in Los Angeles. Whew! It ain't pretty, but it sure is exciting.

"After all these years, the scripts are amazing yet again," says Golden Globe-winning star Kyra Sedgwick, who plays the Southern ace interrogator Brenda Leigh Johnson, as she puts aside a victim's photo and grabs a time-out for TV Guide Magazine. "In this scene, there are a million subtexts going on while our story is being told — there's information being imparted with lots of props being tossed around while dirty looks and slamming doors are exploding all around Brenda. That's great drama when 60 things are going on at once — that's when we're at our best."

Entering the show's sixth summer of crackling cases and still maintaining its status as the No. 1 ad-supported cable show on television, The Closer's cast and creator James Duff gave us exclusive access to search for new-season clues involving the personal, as well as the professional lives, of one of the juiciest ensembles on TV. The biggest mystery? How does the modern working stiff juggle both work and the arduous task of maintaining her own humanity?

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1. Brenda will cope with change...in her own way
In the premiere, "The Big Bang," Detective Johnson and her crew move into a new multimillion-dollar, technologically state-of-the-art headquarters. True to The Closer's goal of maintaining authenticity, the move mirrors the one the actual LAPD underwent last year. But Brenda isn't happy. "She hates change and hates this building — this ridiculous monstrosity of a place where instead of just opening a door, you have to have a stupid beeper card," says Sedgwick with a laugh. Adds Duff, "It's very funny, because Brenda doesn't know where anything is and everybody is always having to tell her where to go. She'll eventually block off all the electric gizmos, because she can never find her pass. Instead of adapting to the building, she begins to adapt the building to herself."

2. Politics may come between former bedfellows

"The LAPD changed their chief of police last year, and so we are, too," says Duff. "That sets off a scramble for who will be the new chief." Brenda's boss (and former lover), assistant chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons), Duff continues, "seems an absolute lock for the post, but, as it turns out, he will probably be scrambling quite a bit." Why's that? "Because," he teases, "there will be another candidate that will really surprise people." 

3. A tough antagonist returns to start more trouble
In Episode 2, Brenda's hard-as-nails nemesis from internal affairs, Mary McDonnell's Captain Raydor, will swoop in for a three-show arc. "She's doing a background check on Pope," says Sedgwick, "and she brings up the history of our relationship, which doesn't make Brenda comfortable at all." Raydor will be involved in vetting the candidates for chief, but it turns out her investigation will result in "a huge conflict between Pope and Brenda," Sedgwick says. "Pope is, I think, still in love with Brenda, so there's messy stuff that has to get brought up in terms of that."

4. Keep an eye out for comic relief
G.W. Bailey's aging lothario, Lieutenant Provenza, got dumped by his much younger girlfriend last season, but he and his comic comrade-in-arms, Lieutenant Flynn (Tony Denison), up the ante in a new episode in which they double-date two twentysomething flight attendants. "I couldn't stop laughing," says Bailey. "Just the idea of double-dating—I mean, in real life, I haven't double-dated since 1958! — is hysterical. And the second you see two gray-haired guys like us who are, let's say, slightly beyond middle age...."

"Speak for yourself!" interjects Denison.

"Oh, don't get me started, Tony, or I'll start giving out birth dates!" Bailey cracks. "But, listen, if your heart tells you to go there, every therapist in the world can tell you, 'Don't do it,' but when you see two beautiful women like these two, you instantly fall in love and you're gonna go there." So Provenza still hasn't learned his love lesson. "He hasn't learned anything," Bailey admits. "I don't really know any man who has."

5. This season will provide a background check on the other cops
"We've decided to make a concerted effort to get to know more about the other characters in a more intimate way," reveals Sedgwick. "I'm loving a story about Sanchez [Raymond Cruz] and this kid," she continues, referring to a plotline that will find the widowed, ever-melancholy detective taking an abused child under his wounded wing. But not all is well with the team. Corey Reynolds' Sergeant Gabriel, for instance, isn't in favor of Sanchez's do-good efforts with the boy, especially since the team is still investigating a crime connected to him. "My character sees it as it's not up to us to use our own opinions to dictate the law," Reynolds says. What's more, Duff reveals, Brenda will find her own lieutenants conspiring against her to prevent her from solving a mystery. And as for Pope — who is champing at the bit for the chief position — Duff says, "You're going to find out a lot about Pope. You'll see him take over an investigation, personally, which you've never seen done before, and you're going to discover more about his ambitions and his dreams. This will have an effect on our entire squad."

For more info about The Closer, including scoop on Brenda and Fritz during Season 6, pick up this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands July 1!

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