By Sandra Gonzalez
Updated May 18, 2011 at 07:12 PM EDT
Mary Mcdonnell
Credit: Karen Neal/TNT
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The Closer spin-off may have been referred to as the worst-kept secret in entertainment this morning at the TNT/TBS Upfront presentation, but the lack of surprise has done nothing to quell fans excitement about the official announcement of Major Crimes. In fact, the show’s star (and Closer’s Capt. Raydor) Mary McDonnell says fans have much to look forward to about the yet-to-be-written project. “It will be similar to The Closer in its gravitas, humor, and its tone. It’s the major crimes world, but exactly how the evolution occurs, we’re not sure,” she told EW exclusively backstage at the event. “I know it’s going to be looking at the concept of justice through a different lens.”

The show will kick off in summer 2012, the week immediately following the series finale of The Closer, she said, to make the transition “seamless.” But why didn’t the show simply continue with a new boss under the current moniker? “I think they rebranded it because after Kyra [Sedgwick] decided to leave — which I completely respect — [they knew] you can’t replace that iconic role. It would be foolish, in my opinion, to try to recreate such an iconic character. It would be like replacing Lucille Ball. I really believe she has that kind of connection to fans,” she explained.

On stage at the event, Sedgwick was moved to tears while talking about her show signing off. “It’s always bittersweet to say goodbye and think that in the not too distant future, the director will yell cut for the last time,” she said, adding that the finale chapters would leave fans “surprised, entertained, and satisfied.”

“The franchise is so exciting,” McDonnell said. “The rest of the guys [on the show] are so present but we don’t know a lot about them. So the idea of that department and me continuing and exploring some of them seemed to be the best way to continue this relationship with the fans.”

Follow Sandra on Twitter @EWSandraG; follow EW Alerts for breaking news @EWAlerts

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