Janet Tamaro to Step Down as ‘Rizzoli & Isles’ Showrunner (Exclusive)

Rizzoli and Isles
Courtesy of TNT

No replacement tapped yet for the TNT drama

Janet Tamaro will step down as showrunner of “Rizzoli & Isles” at the end of season four, Variety has learned.

Tamaro, who decided not to renew her contract for season five, will remain on board the TNT crime procedural as a consulting producer for its fifth run. The final episodes of the show’s fourth season are set to roll out on TNT early next year.

Tamaro, who developed “Rizzoli & Isles” from a series of novels by Tess Gerritsen, has spearheaded the series since its debut on TNT in 2010, serving as scribe, exec producer and showrunner. Her segue out of the day-to-day showrunning duties arrives after rumors in recent weeks that changes were afoot for the show.

A new showrunner has yet to be tapped for the series.

Tamaro is currently in talks with Warner Horizon TV, the studio behind “Rizzoli & Isles,” for the potential development of TV projects. Tamaro has two new TV projects on her plate, and the scribe hopes to move beyond procedurals and into the serialized TV drama market with her new creative pursuits. Warner Horizon and Tamaro mutually hope to continue their relationship, and produce new content for TNT.

As she releases the reigns as showrunner, Tamaro is confident the Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander-starrer is on solid grounding for season five.

“I did four seasons that I’m incredibly proud of, and the show is in great shape,” Tamaro told Variety, noting the increase of roughly 1 million viewers for “Rizzoli” in its fourth run compared to its third. “It’s been phenomenal, but I’m at the top of my game creatively and really want to use the juice I have to produce other projects…I do so love writing female characters, and I want to do more!”

Tamaro also cited the recent suicide death of “Rizzoli” cast member Lee Thompson Young as a factor in her new professional journey, saying that while Young’s passing “was not the reason” for her stepping down as showrunner, “it was a catalyst for me to examine what I want to be doing next.”

In addition to potential development with Warner Horizon, Tamaro has a deal in place with New Regency for a female-driven suspense thriller.

“It’s very, very hard to leave. change is hard,” Tamaro remarked. “I will miss the daily interaction with the cast and crew…It’s time to let go of the safety bar and do something challenging.”

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  1. Rebecca says:

    Too bad, but see you in your next adventure!!! xoxo

  2. yessikg says:

    I’m so excited for the new showrunner!

    I hope the first thing they do is drop that Jane and Casey story-line and add more Maura

  3. Louise Joles says:

    In my opinion something has been missing from Season 4. The plots are flimsy and the show just seems flat to me. Hopefully season 5 wil find he show back on track.

  4. Kate says:

    I am glad this women is steeping out her writing for the scenes and murders are not that intense or well develop. This show has survive because of a great cast specially Sasha Alexandra and Angie Harmon. I hope this new person bring some good fresh ideas and take this show to a new level.

  5. Kathy Howington says:

    I hope the relationship of Jane and Casey will still be in the program.

  6. Maria Andrews says:

    Please do not change too much in the show it really works great as it is. My only regret is the very sudden death of Lee who is quite irreplaceable. Please keep the show going as Tess has written many books and I have read most of them.

  7. Danielle says:

    Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander make this show despite the writing. Looking forward to seeing what fresh ideas could bring.

    • Ellie says:

      @danielle: this isn’t a reality or talk show. IF you like the chemistry between the characters, you have to understand that it isn’t real — it is MANUFACTURED by what is known as “writing.” It’s a manipulation. It’s intentional. It’s done with creativity, purpose, planning and effort. Sasha and Angie don’t have that chemistry in real life–they aren’t friends like Maura and Jane are friends. They don’t “make” the show, they are IN the show. Sure, they are attractive and fun to watch, but without all that is provided for them in this particular context, you’d just have a couple actors waiting for something to do. You can’t separate them from the writing — they only exist BECAUSE of the writer. I guess the “proof” for me is that I didn’t like that Women’s Murder Club show in part because Angie just wasn’t very good in it. Bad mix of “eh” writing and… her. It got cancelled. Sasha was ok on NCIS, but she wasn’t the star – she came and went. No, it’s the “magic” combination of the showrunner’s choice (with the Network too I guess) to put these two actors together in this story, and the writer’s control of all they do and say that has made the series work. Seems to me this is why it’s big news that the showrunner wanted to quit. I hope she helps them and they keep it going.

      • shinko says:

        Excuse me are you janet tamaro herself?The show works because of the chemistry between Jane and Maura.People likes watching them.In season 3 and season 4,the writer sucks.It should have been better.

      • IP says:

        Ok no-one’s saying that the writers and showrunners aren’t a big part of making a show great, but you CANNOT manufacture chemistry no matter how good the writing is. Sasha’s talked about how lucky she and Angie are to have such great chemistry, which kind of goes against your idea that chemistry is manufactured by writers. It’s why, when casting roles, directors have something called chemistry tests, to see how well two people gel together, how convincing the fake relationship between them is. It’s not just for actors playing couples, they also do it for people playing close friends or family if they are the lead roles of the show, because showrunners know that without instant chemistry between the actors, people won’t watch as much. And no, it’s not about how good they are as actors, and it’s not about their friendship in real life. Chemistry isn’t the same as real life friendship, they don’t have to be best friends in real life to be absolutely enthralling playing against each other (although by all accounts sasha and angie are friends in real life and their families vacation together); however if you’ve ever watched an interview with the two of them you’d see that they’re dynamic together in real life too and play off each other well because that chemistry translates to real life. It’s an instinctive understanding of the timing and movement of another person, and the ability to fit together with that. A show isn’t good just because of the writing, or the acting, or the production values. No matter how much you don’t want to admit it, chemistry between the actors is something very important and it’s something that can’t be manufactured. However, like i said, the writing and direction/production is also a big part of that, and while Tamaro hasn’t been great, she’s been good enough to keep them afloat; my hope now is just that they don’t get someone even worse in to replace her.

      • Sarah says:

        You’re totally wrong. The chemistry between the actresses is what makes the show. This is what Janet Tamaro used for ratings. They didn’t get 4 seasons for the crappy writing. They got it because everybody tuned in for Angie and Sasha. Their chemistry made even the dumbest scenes work. And yes, both Angie and Sasha are great when given good material. L&O has always been a show that didn’t have a star and actors come and go. Angie leaving the show didn’t impact it but Abbie Carmichael is still a fan favorite and she rocked that role. On Womens Murder Club she was also great but unfortunately, the writers strike that happened that year helped get the show, and other new shows, canceled. Sasha was also great on NCIS. Janet Tamaros writing sucks.

  8. Michael Aldridge says:

    I would expect some tension on the Rizzoli set, since the show continues to sport some of the worst writing and acting, notably from Angie Harmon, ever to hit the airwaves.

    • Jack West says:

      @Michael Aldridge, I actually like Angie’s Harmon acting. And if you dislike it so, why are you watching?

    • Sarah says:

      Angie Harmons acting is great when given good scripts. She was great on L&O and on Womens Murder Club. It’s the writing for Rizzoli & Isles that is terrible.

      • Janet says:

        The connection between all the main actors in this show is what makes worth watching, you only have to read the stories on the fan fiction site to know the impact of this programme. The way the fans have took this to their hearts is unbelievable. In fact if their looking for a new writer for future series they may just find some on the site. Trust me, I’m totally hooked x

      • Ellie says:

        @sarah. She’s just “ok” as an actress in the way most models turned actress are just “ok.” If she was “great” on L&O, would Dick Wolf have let her go? If she was “great” on Women’s Murder Club, that show would still be on the air and she would still be in it. Whether you personally like this show or not, the fact is that it has worked and become a full-on hit because the writer/showrunner who ran it for four seasons MADE it work with, and for, this group of actors.

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