TNT adds more ampersands and more private eyes to its drama lineup. Jon Tenney and Rebecca Romijn star as best-selling author David Baldacci’s popular characters Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, former Secret Service agents who use their unique skills — not to mention their razor-sharp chemistry — to give them a leg up on conventional law enforcement.
By Jay Bobbin
Clearly, TNT loves Jon Tenney.
And the feeling is mutual, since the actor has worked for the cable network for the better part of the past decade. After his long run as FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard — longtime friend and eventual husband of Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer — a role he’s occasionally reprised on the spinoff Major Crimes, Tenney launches the new TNT crime drama King & Maxwell, premiering June 10 at 10pm ET/PT.
He and Rebecca Romijn play Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, former Secret Service agents now partnered as private detectives. The characters originated in a series of novels by David Baldacci (Absolute Power), and they’re “odd couple” opposites: He’s more refined while she’s the streetwise one. Michael O’Keefe (Caddyshack) and Chris Butler (The Good Wife) costar as FBI operatives on the show that includes Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles) among its executive producers.
Tenney says his conversations with TNT about King & Maxwell began as The Closer was winding down. “I felt my piece of that puzzle was primarily the personal relationship,” he explains, “and as the focus shifted away from that, because Kyra was no longer going to be there, I wondered how much there would be for me to do [on Major Crimes]. And then they sent me this script.
“I had not read any of David’s novels about King and Maxwell, but I certainly had seen them. I mean, every time you walk through an airport, there they are. As soon as I read the script, I started getting into the novels as well, and all the elements seemed to come together to make this a fun thing to do.”
Much of that hinges on the stars’ teamwork, as any show title built on the main characters’ names suggests. “I’d seen her work, but I had never really met her,” Tenney reports of Romijn. “I had done a small part in a movie her husband Jerry [O’Connell] was in, so we sort of knew each other through that. We did a series of ‘chemistry reads,’ and we clicked right away. We fell into a conversation about kids and this business, and we just got along. Building this relationship has been a fun part of the process.”
Staying with TNT for his latest series is quite comfortable for Tenney, who deems the network’s executives “really smart. They hire people they like and trust, and they don’t micromanage. They make everybody feel very participatory, and I’m happy to still be in the family, as they say.”
Tenney also had a multiple-episode stint on HBO’s The Newsroom last summer, and his earlier runs on Brothers & Sisters, Brooklyn South and Get Real (on which he played dad to Anne Hathaway, in her TV debut) reaffirm he is no stranger to television. “I think most actors will say they always feel like they’ll never work again,” he reflects. “In between jobs, you think your luck has run out, but they keep on letting me do what I love to do. I really can’t complain.”
Photo: © TNT Credit: Jan Thijs