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TCA: “Damages” — A Close call


Vic Mackey would get along very well with Patty Hewes.

Hewes, as played by veteran actress Glenn Close, is FX’s latest anti-hero. In “Damages,” which preems Glennclose1 July 24, Close plays a calculating and manipulative attorney who feels no remorse breaking the law to win a case. The series will have a 13-episode run.

Close has had an astonishing film careeer and only dabbled in television. She’s been nominated for five Oscars but her one-season appearance on “The Shield” made such an impression that when given the chance to come back to TV, she jumped at the chance. That, and the fact there are very few movie scripts that interest her.

“I turn down more scripts that I accept,” Close said at the show’s TCA panel Thursday at the Beverly Hilton. And the fact that “Damages” was filmed back east, and she could be with her family, was instrumental in her decision as well. “It was very important that it was shot in New York.”

The through line of “Damages” details on Close trying to convict a corporate powerbroker (Ted Danson) who has allegedly defrauded his employers.

FX is throwing plenty of marketing muscle behind the show, hoping it connects in the way that the network’s other signature shows — “Nip/Tuck” and “The Shield” — have. The pilot, which hints at how  Hewes’ personal and professional relationships have shaped her career, asks viewers to go along for the season-long ride. Writers use as storytelling device that looks ahead, and where we see a Hewes employee (Rose Byrne) running nearly naked and bloodied through the streets of Manhattan sometime in the not-to-distant future.

Questions will be answered. Maybe not in episode two but certainly by No. 13, and then, promises writers Daniel Zelman, Todd Kessler and Glenn Kessler, new mysteries will be added if the show sees a season two.

For Danson, “Damages” represents a nice dramatic change. The actor who became an icon in “Cheers”  has struggled the last few years in sitcoms and began to, professionally, go through the motions.

“I feel excited about acting again, rather than going into another comedy,” Danson said.

“Damages” seems to be a perfect fit for FX, which has worked hard at establishing and earning its hard-edged brand. The network has been extremely successful launching dramas of late. Both “Dirt” and “The Riches” are coming back for a second season.

Early positive reaction to “Damages” would indicate Close might be making a long-term transition to TV, with the series possibly going a few seasons long if viewers find themselves agreeing with the buzz at TCA.

With examples such as Holly Hunter, who’s starring in TNT’s upcoming  “Saving Grace,” there’s little argument that thesps looking for quality projects often wind up on the small screen.

“I have always been seduced by good writing,” she said. “Early in my career I decided to go where the writing is.”

Call it destination fulfilled.

— Stuart Levine

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