Kyra Sedgwick's Case for Leaving The Closer:
'I Want To Go Out While We're On Top'

That Kyra Sedgwick’s voice wavered and cracked as she touted The Closer‘s upcoming seventh and final season at last week’s TNT Upfront event comes as no surprise. After all, Brenda Leigh Johnson is a role that garnered the actress five Emmy nominations, including her first-ever win last go-round, and put her in the company of many fine writers and actors.

“It’s obviously very emotional for me,” Sedgwick shared with TVLine not long after taking the stage. “Making this decision was really hard.”

So why punch out? In the end, it was Brenda’s exemplary ability to do her job that prompted Sedgwick to give up hers. That is, the rock-steady stream of murders to be investigated — and almost unerringly solved, within an episode’s frame — left the actress itching to do more.

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Sedgwick’s two children (with actor-husband Kevin Bacon) are now both young adults, so spending more time at home wasn’t a factor, she says, “and it certainly wasn’t about not adoring this character or these people [I work with]. But at the end of the day, [The Closer]’s still a procedural, and I think that probably fit into my decision a bit. Even though there’s all this amazing character stuff, that’s still what it is.”

“I thought about it for about a year, and it finally came down to the fact that I really want to do other things, creatively,” she adds. “I’m an artist, and I want to express myself in other ways and other places.”

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When Sedgwick herself announced The Closer‘s final season in December, the press release included quotes from the actress and top execs from both Turner and Warner Bros. Television. Series creator James Duff, however, was somewhat conspicuously MIA. But Sedgwick dismisses the idea that he wasn’t on board with her desire to call it a day.

“Oh, he knew. I told him first,” says Sedgwick, who is an executive producer on the hit drama. “I told [fellow EPs] Michael [M. Robin] and Greer [Shephard] and James and Rick [Wallace], and we cried…. They were like, ‘You’re an artist, and this is what you have to do.’ And then I called the cast immediately, because I didn’t want them to hear it from anybody but me.”

Surveying the room as we spoke to her, Sedgwick had in her eye line castmates such as JK Simmons (who plays Pope), Corey Reynolds (Gabriel), Robert Gossett (Taylor), and her TV husband, Jon Tenney. “I love [the show] and I love everybody so much,” she expressed, “but I also want to go out while we’re on top, when people still want to see us.”

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Fortunately for the people who love The Closer, there are two bits of solace. One, the seventh season will be some 50 percent larger than usual, spreading 21 episodes across the coming summer (starting July 11), a brief winter stretch, and then wrapping things up in summer 2012.

Also, TNT is all set to serve up a spinoff — titled Major Crimes and starring Mary McDonnell as Capt. Sharon Raydor — the instant Brenda Leigh bids us adieu, invariably with a big Southern “Thank you!”

“I’m really glad that they’re going to go on and do another show,” Sedgwick says. “That really helps soften the blow.”

And what is the theme for The Closer‘s closing run? “Love and Loss,” Sedgwick reports, “which is appropriate. It’s exactly the way you want the character to go out.”