Phillip Keene Interview: on Buzz, “Major Crimes”

major-crimes-photo-phillip-keene

THE STAR SCOOP:
What was your initial reaction to the spin-off – to having a much larger role, too, for your character? What have been the challenges and what have you enjoyed most?

PHILLIP KEENE:
I think I can say that we were all excited at the prospect of spinning off “The Closer” into “Major Crimes” and we are so very grateful for the opportunity to stay here in Los Angeles and continue working with such great people. The fact that Buzz’s role has become larger is a definite plus for me as an actor, I mean who doesn’t want more screen time? Buzz lives!

Getting used to a new dynamic is always a challenge, I mean when you lose a family member it is always a tough transition, and I do look to my fellow cast-mates as family. Losing many members of a family is especially hard so there was a period of adjustment for us and for the audience as well. We are thankful that our audience has elected to stay with us and bring their family along for the ride too.

A little off point here but I think this is important. I really like hearing from our fans that this a show that they watch together with other family members. So often there will be a show for the husband or the wife and and another for the kids ( hey we all have our guilty pleasures ) but our show seems to bring people together in that there is a little something for everyone to connect to.

THE STAR SCOOP:
What are the perks of working on a show on cable network like TNT?

PHILLIP KEENE:
I believe that working for a cable network allows for the writers to fully exercise their muscle and it seems that they have more creative freedom in the types of stories that they can provide us so that we in turn can relay a more believable 42 minute, hour of television. Much of Network television seems so focused on sensationalism and violence and not so much on charter and story.

THE STAR SCOOP:
What impact has your character, Buzz had on you as an actor?

PHILLIP KEENE:
Wow, good question. I would have to say that Buzz has allowed me to see the life from another perspective. His story is very different from my own and I have had to make allowances for that. Buzz has helped me to learn to be more patient and become a better observer. I never really considered just how hard a job being a civil servant was until our show.

I mean there aren’t many jobs where you go to work knowing that many of the people you are working for actually hate you or see you as the enemy. That can’t be easy. Having a job where you are forced to contend with some of the very worst behavior people can exhibit has to take its toll on you. Also, I never knew just how complicated the justice system was.

Luckily I have never really had to deal with it from a true insiders point of view. The amount of time , energy and expense that goes into defending someone is astounding and exhausting not just for the accused but for the victims and their families as well. And through it all, these men and women of the justice system keep showing up and doing their jobs, showing a kinder side of humanity.

Hopefully Buzz’s kinder nature is rubbing off on me.

THE STAR SCOOP:
What can you tell us about season 3?

PHILLIP KEENE:
Well, every season revolves around a central theme. Season two was about identity and many questions surrounding this idea were explored. Season three is about expectations , just think of the possibilities there!

THE STAR SCOOP:
Is it too soon to ask about season 4?

PHILLIP KEENE:
Oh my gosh, we have just started shooting episode two of this season! We are doing 19 episodes this year and hopefully another 19 next year.

THE STAR SCOOP:
The show’s had excellent ratings. What is it about this particular show that’s made it so successful with viewers? Has it been the impact of “The Closer?”

PHILLIP KEENE:
I would have to say without question that “The Closer” has certainly been a huge reason for the success of  “Major Crimes.” Without the creative minds of James Duff and Kyra Sedgwick and every other single person involved in bringing the characters to life there would not have been a “Major Crimes.”

“The Closer” certainly brought us (“Major Crimes”) instant recognition because so many of the characters stayed with the show, not to mention a majority of our crew. We have one of the highest crew member retention rates of any show in the business I think. While “The Closer” was a mainly single point of view, through the eyes of Brenda Leigh Johnson, “Major Crimes” takes the audience through a variety of viewpoints.

Each one one is unique to the character and partly for this reason I feel the audience ha stayed with us. There is somewhere for nearly everyone to hang their hat if you will. I know what the created of the show, James Duff, wanted the show to looks much like Los Angeles as possible.

I remember watching a show not too long ago set in Miami, it was a police drama and there was not one Latino in the show! I mean really? I think the diversity in our cast is reflective of the true nature of the viewing audience and that has a part in our success. Our audience looks like us.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Who would you love to have guest-star on an episode, and why?

PHILLIP KEENE:
There are so many people that would be great to have on our show! I keep asking the writers to bring in Buzz’s mom. For that I would love to have Judith Ivey come play my mother. She is such a wonderful actor and I would love the chance to work with her. I can just see her playing the Marijuana prescription card carrying mom to Buzz’z by the rules character.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Do you have any other projects we should know about?

PHILLIP KEENE:
I keep myself busy with fundraising opportunities and continually adding to my Pan Am collection. I worked as a Purser for Pan Am in the 80’s and 90’s and have amassed quite collection of memorabilia ranging from uniforms to ashtrays and nearly everything you can think of relating to Pan Am. I am looking for a space to eventually house my collection so it can be displayed full time.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Are there any charities or organizations close to your heart you’d like our readers to know more about? We’d love to help spread the word!

PHILLIP KEENE:
Thanks for asking. I work with two organizations primarily, one being The Sunshine Kids helping kids with cancer and the other is CARE through the auspices of an organization made up of former Pan Am flight attendants; World Wings International.

THE STAR SCOOP:
Anything else we should know?

PHILLIP KEENE:
I’m not sure, but thank you for the opportunity to chat with you.

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