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Interview: Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly from Burn Notice
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Interview: Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly from Burn Notice

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Sharon Gless stars in the Number 1 series on cable, USA’s original series ‘Burn Notice’. And Tyne Daly (Sharon’s co-star on ‘Cagney & Lacey’) has reunited with her to guest on our mid-series premiere. Check out our interview with the stars below!

Sharon stars in the Number 1 series on cable, USA’s original series ‘Burn Notice’. And Tyne has reunited with her to guest on our mid-series premiere.

This episode is titled Dark Road and will premiere on USA Network on Thursday, January 21 at 10:00 pm. If there are no questions we can begin the call. And again we thank you very much for your participation.

It’s great to hear the two of you together. I am so excited and I know everyone else is excited. How did you all feel about the prospect of re-teaming?

Sharon Gless: Well I loved. I’ve been trying to talk Tyne into coming and doing our show. Tyne said she’ll do it if she could play a mute. But Matt Nix said I’m not paying Tyne Daly to not hear that voice of hers so.

Had you all tried to work together in the past few years?

Sharon Gless: Go ahead Tyne. I did Tyne’s show, ‘Judging Amy’.

Tyne Daly: She did, she came when we were in trouble because of – my colleague had died, Richard Crenna, and we didn’t quite – we were thrown into a very unpleasant situation. Sharon came and pinch hit and was lovely on our show.

And so I figured to do this ‘Burn Notice’, you know, turn about is fair play. And besides that play with her, we play very easy together, we have a good time.

Yeah. You know, it was natural. I mean, do you all have a very natural chemistry?

Tyne Daly: I guess so.

Sharon Gless: Yeah – We’ve been doing it a long time. You know, so, yeah, we developed something on ‘Cagney & Lacey’. And I find it very easy and wonderful working with Tyne when she was with us. People got so – when we were in the makeup trailer we’re sitting just chatting and laughing before we begin and that isn’t sort of the tone of our makeup trailer so everybody was going boy I wish that we did that more.

And Tyne, what did, you know, I mean I’m sure you saw Sharon on the Nip/Tuck so what did she warn you about ‘Burn Notice’ before you came on? Did she say don’t worry it’s nothing like that, what were some of the – or was it all great things?

Tyne Daly: Well actually I have to confess that I did not see Sharon on ‘Nip/Tuck’ although I heard tales. Because I’ve needed to have a rest from the 21st Century I no longer have a television set.

You’re kidding?

Tyne Daly: So – I wouldn’t kid you about a thing like that. But I heard – I heard about Nip/Tuck. And one day when I’m very calm I’ll sit down and screen it and – but I didn’t have that to scare me off. She can’t scare me, man.

So what did she tell you about coming on ‘Burn Notice’?

Tyne Daly: She said there was a part. She said it wasn’t big enough. She said come anyway and I said yeah.

Tyne, tell me something – what did you feel – what kind of a vibe did you get from ‘Burn Notice’ when you went to work on the show?

Tyne Daly: That Sharon was safe and sound, that they love her there. They admire her there. They – and I, you know, I threatened everybody if they weren’t treating her right that I would lean on them, you know. But it seems to be a good working place.

I don’t know that we’ll ever replicate the kind of work we did in our primes, you know. We had the advantage of – let’s see, an opportunity to do something that hadn’t been done on TV before. But I figure, you know, the two of us are continuing to do what we do. And if we do it with some kind of class I’m grateful for that.

Sharon Gless: I’ll tell you what happened – When Tyne walked in – we always walked in together – over that set the likes of which I’ve never seen. I said to the crew, I said, I didn’t get this kind of respect when I walked in. But the two of us together – I was fascinated because I know my crew. They were just so, so respectful wanting to watch us work together.

Tyne Daly: And we felt like, you know, it’s kind of like bicycle riding – this is Tyne – you know, with Sharon we just fall into a rhythm and it was nice and easy. It was really fun. We had only what three or four scenes but the – it felt like a very great tennis match.

When you – going back in time do you guys remember when you first started working together. Tyne, what did you learn from Sharon? And Sharon, what did you learn from Tyne? We’ll start with Tyne.

Tyne Daly: What did I learn from Sharon? That laughing – that laughing is important in a situation. When you’re working really hard laughing is important to do as much as humanly possible. We laughed – I think we laughed everyday. And there were some tense days too but we laughed anyway. That’s what I learned from Sharon.

Sharon Gless: When I first started the show I learned generosity towards another actor. I’d never seen anything like that. Tyne was so generous in welcoming me to the show. I was her third Cagney. She liked the last one she worked with. And made me feel like I was welcome and it was my home now. And she was just wonderful.

And I try to do that when we have guests who are nervous, you know, I always remember how generous she was to me so.

So I have notes from this episode, I have not been sent a screener so I’m flying blind. But the notes that I have are that your character, Tyne, is an intelligence asset. And I was wondering if you could…

Tyne Daly: Intelligence what?

Intelligence asset that you share a wardrobe and a cigarette together or a cigarette brand; these are the notes that I have so please tell me about your character.

Tyne Daly: To me she was just kind of a little, you know, a low-rate bureaucrat. She’s protective of her position. And then she meets a woman who sort of offered her friendship and she’s so knocked off her game that she gets conned.

Is there only one episode?

Tyne Daly: Maybe it’s a different show man?

No, no, no, this is actually from the USA site.

Tyne Daly: What do you know? You know, there little bites they have in the TV Guide and stuff like that about what the show is about are often very misleading as far as I’m concerned.

What was it that inspired you to ban the television from your house considering it’s a medium that, you know, one of the many mediums, you know, theater actor and what not and film but TV was also part of your…

Tyne Daly: Banned sounds very violent. It’s not about ban it’s just about resting. The world is very noisy and, you know, I need to rest from it. There’s far too much technical demand going on. So there’ll come a time when I’ll probably… I know I’m talking to a TV publication, I shouldn’t ever say that. I’m now going to not say that, I’ll try and be smart. I just – I’m busy and I can’t memorize stuff when I’m looking at other stuff you know what I’m saying?

I hear you. I hear you.

Sharon Gless: I sent Tyne a product of mine and she went to her neighbor’s apartment to watch it.

Tyne Daly: Yeah I did, you know, I’ve watched my brother’s show at my neighbor’s house. I watch Sharon Gless at my neighbor’s house. I rely on the kindness of strangers to allow me to see stuff that I’m really interested in.

So many other things every time either one of your name’s comes up it goes back to ‘Cagney & Lacey’. And does that bother you now, I mean, 25 years – or more than 25 years later to still be associated with those characters?

Tyne Daly: There was a time that I promised Sharon that we would not be photographed together and they would not speak in terms of ‘Cagney & Lacey’ and I was wrong. But I don’t resent it because it means that we have both been able to keep working and keeping plying our trade and do other stuff. And, no, I don’t feel bad about it. Not me.

Sharon Gless: Me either. I really do thank ‘Cagney & Lacey’ for providing all the work that we’ve been able to have since then. Barney Rosenzweig, our producer, still maintains that we’re worth more together than we are as a single.

Tyne Daly: It could be true but you ain’t hurting either babe.

I don’t think there’s really been another show since ‘Cagney & Lacey’ with two such strong female characters together. Why do you think it’s been so long or why have we not had that again, did you guys just kind of ruin that genre for everybody or…

Sharon Gless: Tyne used to say, you know, we really did want to pass the gauntlet and to let hopefully another show like that because TV totally plagiarizes, I mean, it steals from itself all the time. And they never did copy the format.

But I heard recently this – I can’t remember anybody’s name but the man who produces all the CSI movies – shows that he is now going to do a ‘Cagney & Lacey’ – not call it that but two female cops together. I don’t know how you get away with that and not call it ‘Cagney & Lacey’ but hey. They say that’s what he’s going to attempt.

Tyne Daly: Maybe we did it so well in the first place that they’ve hesitated to try and copy it, I don’t know.

Sharon Gless: And then…

Tyne Daly: I don’t run the zoo and I’m really glad I don’t.

Sharon Gless: Yeah, me too.

Yeah, that new show just got at least picked up for scripts orders it’s called ‘Jackson Amber’ and it’s also on TBS. If they asked you to come as ‘Cagney & Lacey’ just as a cameo would that be something you’d consider to help them re-launch this type of…

Tyne Daly: Lacey’s retired, man, I don’t know about Cag but she’s retired.

Sharon Gless: Yeah, who – what is the show? Is that the one that the CSI guy is doing?

Yeah, it’s called ‘Jackson Amber’. And…

Sharon Gless: Is that where – where it’s two female cops?

Right.

Sharon Gless: Right. I don’t know I’d have to see the part. But I don’t think I’d come on as Chris Cagney. I mean, Chris Cagney is, I mean, I’m a little long in the tooth now to be playing that character. Does it take place in New York like ours did?

Yeah, I’m not sure where it’s taking place. There aren’t a lot of details out yet but it’s definitely getting compared to ‘Cagney & Lacey’ in pretty much every mention so.

Sharon Gless: I be that…

Tyne Daly: Everything gets compared to everything in Hollywood. Yeah, you go into Hollywood and they say you’re the new this or the new that, that’s a long standing game. I wouldn’t be – if I were the producers of this new show I wouldn’t be concerned about it for a moment.

Are you interested in doing like a regular TV gig and if Tina was offered up as a regular gig would you take it?

Tyne Daly: Well at the moment I don’t have time. I’m doing the ‘Caberet’, I actually open tonight in San Francisco and then New York and LA and wherever else it is unintelligible. Yeah so I’m doing my ‘Caberet’ and after that I’m obliged to play in Washington.

When I finished ‘Judging Amy’ I was ready to take some time to be in a kind of theater where you’re in the same room as your audience. So, you know, musical theater, legitimate theater, cabaret all have to do with being with your audience at the same time and not being on film.

When I tire of this we’ll see if anybody wants to ever take my picture again. That’s in 10 years time.

Outside of working together once in a while since ‘Cagney & Lacey’ are you in touch? Do you guys see each other, you know, socially?

Sharon Gless: Whenever we can. We live in different cities but we’re very, very close. Tyne, oh never mind, that’s right. Yeah, we…

Tyne Daly: Yeah, right now we’re both in San Francisco. Sharon is opening a play. I’m opening at the Raz Room and our schedules are exactly the same so we’re going to be able to maybe have a, you know, a glass of wine and a hamburger together. But we’re not going to be able to see each other’s shows which is too bad.

Sharon Gless: I know.

Tyne Daly: Staying busy is great. The drawback is you don’t have a lot of leisure time. But I am always grateful to ‘Cagney & Lacey’ because I got my friend Sharon out of it. You know, she’s a real friend and a friend for life. And that doesn’t always happen in our business. It’s really pretty rare.

What did each of you want in the ‘Burn Notice’ script in order to work together again?

Tyne Daly: The best jokes. That’s Tyne talking.

Sharon Gless: Well we’re not allowed – this is Sharon. I’m not allowed to tell exactly what happens between us. But I don’t know if they could pull us back together again after what happened. But that’s ..after what happens on film.

I still think – it’s really Tyne’s idea but I promote – I think she should be playing the woman who actually is behind this whole ‘Burn Notice’ thing.

Tyne Daly: That’d be fun.

Sharon Gless: Yeah.

Tyne Daly: You know, Sharon, you know, Sharon how interested I am in power.

Sharon Gless: I know.

Well in what ways do both of you see how women on TV today are benefiting from the ground you paved on ‘Cagney & Lacey’?

Sharon Gless: There are some wonderful shows on starring really, really wonderful women. It’s mostly motion picture stars that – who would never touch television who now are flying to it who are playing strong women – the leads. There’s no one – there’s never been a format like ‘Cagney & Lacey’ again where it was two sharing it.

But I was just told that there is some producer now who’s going to try and do a show like ‘Cagney & Lacey’. I hope we had some impact, I mean, there’s some wonderful women on the air now in strong roles.

And Tyne, for you, how do you see it?

Tyne Daly: Well, you know, television serves very briefly in its own time as far as I’m concerned. So we hit a very lucky time when we could reflect – because I don’t think television leads, I think it reflects. We could reflect some of the influences that were happening in the society.

Women come up to me and say how grateful they were that they spent time with their moms watching TV or that, you know, they were encouraged to be professionals because of the images that they saw on – saw us do.

We served (then), whether or not that thing would be of use in the 21st Century I don’t know. We’re onto third-wave feminism and a whole bunch of stuff that I’m – don’t understand completely. But I do think we did good service in our time. And I can stay proud of that.

Sharon Gless: While we were on the air – we got lots of mail from young girls saying we’re going to join the force.

Tyne Daly: Oh God.

Sharon Gless: And I always wanted to say are you crazy, you could get killed. But now it’s been 20 years later and I’ve met so many of them who are now have put in their 20 and they’re retiring

Well what do you – what do you each appreciate about each other now that you, you know, that you couldn’t during the height of ‘Cagney & Lacey’?

Tyne Daly: …we’ve been pretty good at appreciating each other.

Sharon Gless: Yeah. I still appreciate Tyne’s talent and I appreciate her friendship.

Tyne Daly: I am encouraged that Sharon keeps finding new things to do and new ways to be, you know, of service as an actor and so I can too. If I get blue and I get bummed I think well, you know, Gless has gone to London and done a play and she’s developing a new plan thing. And so I…

Sharon Gless: If Gless can do it…

Tyne Daly: Really but, you know, I wanted to be a long distance runner, you know, when I started out. And Sharon is being one and I’m being one in a profession where usually, you know, you do your sprint and then it’s over…

Sharon Gless: Yeah.

Tyne Daly: …especially for women in some way. Women don’t tend to last in this business. They think their shelf life is much shorter than the guy’s. So I’m encouraged by Miss Gless.

Sharon Gless: Thank you my friend and I you.

What are the differences you’ve seen in your opportunities since ‘Cagney & Lacey’?

Sharon Gless: I’m not equipped to discuss the culture but there are better parts now for women than there were when we were television. I think that’s why we got the acclaim we did. And while we were on the air no other woman ever won the Emmy. And it’s because we had the material.

But I think ‘Cagney & Lacey’ certainly had impact. And it’s probably one of the reasons why there’s so many good women’s roles today. There were not at that time.

Tyne Daly: I think though on another level, you know, you make your own opportunities, you make your own opportunities, you find them. There are places to go and serve as an actor and be, you know, entertaining or amusing or interesting if you’re willing to find them.

If you think there’s only one place to do it like it has to be Broadway or it has to be Hollywood then you limit yourself. I’m enjoying at this point well after my prime, you know, being able to go and be an actor or a singer or whatever I’m doing in different places.

I think actors limit themselves to a specific location and that’s the only allowable success. Does that make any sense?

Tyne Daly: So if you accept limitations then, yeah, you’ll be limited. If you don’t accept limitations then the horizon is pretty vast.

I’m sure for both of you, you know, careers are, you know, how they are where they have their ups and downs. What do each of you do to get through the tough times in your careers? What was like cheered you up and made things better?

Tyne Daly: Well we call each other.

Sharon Gless: We go out and have a hot fudge sundae together.

Tyne Daly: Hot fudge sundaes help, yeah.

Sharon Gless: I don’t know what I’d do. I mean I’ve been very fortunate. So – this is Sharon – as Tyne to continue working. Since ‘Cagney & Lacey’ I think both of us have really been on the air, or as Tyne on stage, ever since then.

Tyne Daly: Yeah, you know, it depends on what – it’s Tyne again – it depends on what you’re willing to accept. When I started Judging Amy which was another television series that went for six years which most television shows do not, all I had to do was cut my price and play 10 years older than I was.

But I wanted to be acting. And I wanted to be acting on television. I wanted that regular job again. I spent several years of not having a regular job and it was time to, you know, fulfill my obligations as a worker so that turned out okay.

After that you change as it comes. Sharon said okay I’m going to do this – what do you call it – Queer as Folk and I’m going to move to Canada, you know, she had to live and work in Canada. She had to be willing to do that.

So there haven’t been a lot of patches of inactivity really for either one of us which is pretty…

Sharon Gless: Yeah, we’ve been very, very blessed because that isn’t…

Tyne Daly: Very lucky.

Sharon Gless: …the situation, yeah, with most of our colleagues. So, yeah, I think we’re both very blessed.

We know you’re both doing a lot of theater these days, Sharon, you’re doing the ‘Round Heeled Woman’ in San Francisco and Tyne, you have your play right now in addition to all the past Broadway stuff you’ve done. We’re just wondering if you could describe the process a little bit especially about starting a new show, Sharon, with the ‘Round Heeled Woman’.

Sharon Gless: Oh the process. This has gone on – I bought this – the option on this book about nine years ago. It’s gone through many lives and now it’s actually happening here in San Francisco. But it’s been a long time coming, long, long, long. And I’m nervous.

But I don’t know really how to describe the process it just took time and patience and finding the right people to do it; I can’t do it alone, you know, so…

Do you guys give each other advice about your respective shows?

Sharon Gless: Well I fit Tyne in the script and she applauded my courage.

Tyne Daly: I think we’ve been pretty good supporters of each other, you know, since ‘Cagney & Lacey’. I’m interested in Sharon’s work and what she’s doing and trying to follow it and she in mine. Right now we’re both in San Francisco and yet our schedules are so much the same that I’m not going to get to see her play and she’s not to get to come over and see the Cabaret which is too bad. But…

Sharon Gless: Yeah.

Tyne Daly: …but I think we don’t hesitate to, you know, tell each other our opinions. And you can’t get straight opinions out of a lot of people in this business. So I think in some ways I rely on Sharon to give me the straight story. You know, she came to New York to see my – me try this Cabaret thing at Feinstein’s in New York and was not only a supporter and a booster but also, you know, somebody who told me the straight story about what she liked and what she didn’t.

Sharon Gless: She was fabulous. And I loved her shoes.

Would you guys ever consider doing theater together?

Sharon Gless: Absolutely, I would.

Tyne Daly: Sure we actually…

Sharon Gless: We actually were approached by a company in London to do a project that just turned – time wise it didn’t work out for either of us but.

Tyne Daly: There’ll be a time. I think there’ll be a time to say if the gods subscribe. You know, years ago, I mean, years ago we were approached to do some production somewhere of Arsenic and Old Lace. And we both kind of got, you know, a little huffy and said we’re too – but in another 10 years, Shar – Arsenic and Old Lace might be right up our street.

It’s nice to know it’s over there in case we need it when we get…

Sharon Gless: Yeah.

Tyne Daly: …when we get well into our 70s. Sure…

Sharon Gless: But in the interim I’d love her to come back – in the interim I’d lover her to come back to ‘Burn Notice’. They loved her.

Tyne Daly: I had a good time. I had a good time.

You guys have done a lot of things in your life and I wonder what is the most adventurous thing you have done?

Sharon Gless: Adventurous I would call frightening – the most frightening thing I’ve ever done in my life? This play I’m about to start is the frightening thing I’ve ever done.

Tyne Daly: The most adventurous thing – well I’m not sure that I interpret it as frightening. I think the most adventurous thing you can do is actually follow your impulses, your deep impulses. The most adventurous thing I did in my life was get married.

I hesitate to say how’d that work out for you or…

Tyne Daly: Well 27 years and three kids and two and a half grandchildren – I got another grandchild coming is not too bad so far, so far so good.

Excellent, that is excellent.

Tyne Daly: Like half of American marriages that ended in divorce but I’m not going to throw out the – that part of it for the value of the marriage itself was fantastic.

That’s a good run, definitely. And Sharon I just wanted to say what – you keep saying about how terrified you are of this play. What exactly are you worried about?

Sharon Gless: Well it’s an original piece. I’ve owned it for nine years. It’s finally being made in San Francisco. And it’s a true story of a woman who took – a 66-year old woman took an ad out in the New York Review of Books who wanted to strike the intellectual – asking for sex. And I’m playing it. And it’s very – it’s scary. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done.

And the woman I’m actually playing is going to be there opening night so…

That would be a little intimidating definitely.

So I was wondering if you could maybe share with us your favorite memories from your time on ‘Cagney & Lacey’. I’m sure working together again on this show made you reminisce a little bit. So anything you guys laughed about on the set or anything like that?

Tyne Daly: Oh darling it’s so long ago I can’t remember a thing. I deny everything. I remember nothing.

Sharon Gless: I do remember my favorite time and Tyne referred to it earlier, we did laugh a lot. And my favorite time we occasionally – when we were so tired, I mean, 17 hour days, we’d get to a part of a scene and one of us would get the giggles. And we couldn’t stop. They’d cut, start again and when we’d get to that exact same place, I mean, we’d be so, so tired that we’d just start giggling.

Tyne Daly: We used to, you know, there was diminishing returns. There’d get to a place where you’re so tired and there is really no point in going on then. Only the smartest of directors or producers would say you know something let’s call it for the day, this is over.

But I’ll tell you what I appreciated a great deal about Miss Gless, when we started working together I needed to do the next day’s work before I went home. And, you know, I had kids and a husband at home and – but we would stay and run through the next day’s scenes, you know, as we’re – how do you call that – whatever was on the call sheet for the next day.

And we would go through it and we would pound it to death until we felt we understood it so that we could come in in the morning and know what we were up to. And she was willing to do that kind of rehearsing and investigating that I found – felt was absolutely necessary.

And I don’t think, Shar, tell me if I’m wrong but you weren’t sort of brought up in that tradition.

Sharon Gless: No but I loved it so much that I became dependant on it. And any show I’ve done since then that’s what I have to do.

Tyne Daly: Yeah.

Sharon Gless: Because I can’t – I don’t think I’ve ever had a costar who’s interested in doing it with me but then I have to hire somebody to be my Tyne Daly because like…there was such value in that process…

Tyne Daly: Yeah, the work ethic was really pretty impeccable considering that we were in the, you know, in the terrible shoals of television land where everybody puts it down and says it’s less than. We had a work ethic that was pretty fine.

And Sharon, were there any giggles during the ‘Burn Notice’ filming or anything like that or did they not work you guys so tirelessly?

Sharon Gless: We didn’t really have a chance on the set to laugh a lot. Our scenes were sort of emotional.

Tyne Daly: Yeah. Well…

Sharon Gless: But we certainly laughed in the makeup trailer and laughed, you know, we went out to dinner and laughed and…

Tyne Daly: I’d say for Sharon, you know, I think for Sharon – this is Tyne talking. For Sharon it was a really responsible part. It’s a kind of opportunity on ‘Burn Notice’ that she hasn’t had before, it’s quite exciting to see, you know, that character get exploded out of just, you know, his mom.

But I was there on a three day vacation. I came down and did my little bit and did my supporting of my friend whom I love dearly and would go anywhere to give a boost to. And then the rest of the time I could just kind of fool around. And by the end of it it was the end of the season right Shar?

Sharon Gless: Yes.

Tyne Daly: Yeah, so we got – we went out and had dinner and laughed a lot in the relief part when it’s over and you go… Okay, good, congratulations, it’s the end of your season. Let’s have a dinner and eat too much and drink too much and laugh too much. It was swell.

Interview By: Emma Loggins

Burn Notice Official Site

Emma Loggins Emma Loggins is the Editor in Chief of FanBolt. She updates daily on the latest entertainment news, her opinions on current happenings in the media, screening/filming opportunities, inside scoops and more.  She’s been writing on the world of geekdom and pop culture since 2002!

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