After ending a seven-year, Emmy-winning run on “The Closer” in 2012, Kyra Sedgwick has finally returned to prime-time TV. On ABC’s “Ten Days in the Valley” (Sundays at 10 p.m.), she plays a Type double-A TV producer and writer Jane Sadler, hooked on booze, coke and whatever else gets her through the night. Her character is smart and accomplished, also deeply flawed and guilt-ridden. She’s a single mother whose only child is snatched from under her nose one night. Jane now has a mission (which should be wrapped over the next corresponding 10 episodes): Find her child and the malefactors, while fighting off her own demons.
I spoke this week with Sedgwick, 52. An edited version of our chat:
Five years is long time to be gone from prime time. Why so long?
I’m gonna be perfectly honest: I haven’t been flooded with offers. Yeah, I could give you the usual ‘I’ve been looking for the right thing,’ etcetera, but the truth is, I haven’t been flooded with offers. Yes, the idea of doing TV was scary to me for a few years because I was like, ‘I’m never going to have a situation as great as [‘The Closer’]. ... The show was so beloved and was getting nominated every year and it felt like a lot to live up to.
Did you and do you like working in TV or were you looking more for movie roles?
I love working in television because it affords you episode after episode to explore character. In a film, you have an hour and a half, two hours, to show everybody a human being. This is more generous with the time and you get to luxuriate in knowing that you don’t have to show a million different colors in a short, finite period.
I’m puzzled — I thought this was the greatest of TV times for top female actors, thanks partly to the bar you helped raise. What gives?
There are not a lot of great parts. Even though time and again we proved we can make money and get eyes to watch, they make more shows that are male-dominated, or male cast. [Time Warner chief] Jeff Bewkes once told me, if only other shows were making as much as ‘The Closer’ was for this company then we’d all be doing our jobs right.
Not to be naive — OK, let me rephrase, to be perfectly naive, why aren’t there more shows on TV with female leads?
The people who are sitting in those decision-making rooms are mostly men ... Their sensibilities are going to be different and they’re kind of at cross purposes — even though they know they should be aware of gender biases. If I could answer this question by predicting when it will change then I’d be a guru, but I can only say it continues to be true. With ‘Ten Days’ [of which she is also an executive producer] we have a female showrunner, and top female producers ... I wanted to walk the walk, and not be in a position where I would do nothing for women while keep working for men. I love men — I love them! — but I also know I now have the means, and the clout, and I’m going to make this statement.
Tell me about Jane — she certainly is complex.
I find her authentic and real. Most of us reach for something — an Adderall, booze, TV, food, shopping, whatever — to try to take the edge off the anxiety and pressure. And she is under a lot of pressure. And when she walks into her writer’s room [of the fictional cop show she writes for] her co-writers blame her immediately: ‘Oh, we were here at 7 a.m.!’ People also wonder whether she’s a good mother, but we never ask whether someone is a ‘good father,’ or if he’s ‘flawed’ or ‘not likable.’ That kind of shaming and categorizing is left for women. But I’m fascinated by her. [‘Ten Days’] is a mystery thriller but it’s really about getting to the bottom of who this woman is and why she is the way she is. You get deeper into her past and get flashes of what it’s like to be navigating the brain of a writer ... and writers do take a lot from their own lives.
As a native New Yorker — now bicoastal — you have your own balancing act, being married to Kevin Bacon, with two adult children. How do you manage that?
Our kids are old — 28 and 25 — so we’re at that point where we don’t have to worry about that. We do try not to work at the same time and for the most part stick to that, but at this point, we are really much more free to do what we want to do and spend a lot more time together when we’re not working. We enjoy and validate each other’s successes.
What’s the future for “Ten Days” and what’s your next act?
It will definitely be a close-ended mystery, but there will be some unsolved pieces of the mystery. There will be a satisfying end. I also directed a film this year [Lifetime’s ‘Story of a Girl,’ which starred Bacon, and their daughter, Sosie]. I’d love to do more directing.