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"Rescue Me" Fallout (Updated)

By admin Published: June 28, 2007

If you haven't watched this week's episode, don't go to the jump. ...

Since you have seen it, you know what happened to one of the characters. And the actor playing the part wasn't happy, according to this announcement:

In an in-depth interview with writer Matt Seitz for the website, “Rescue Me” star Jack McGee (who portrays “Chief Jerry Reilly”) speaks out about his being “killed off” in Wednesday night's episode and discusses why he felt mistreated by executive producer and series star Denis Leary. The following are excerpts from the exclusive no-hold-barred interview, currently available at

“My own true feeling is, I think the wrong character killed himself,”McGee says, referring to Gavin. Beyond that, he objects to his treatment by Leary. “I want to walk away from this as clean as possible, but I’m not gonna sugarcoat it.”

McGee says Leary, who declined requests to be interviewed by Television Without Pity, cultivates a public image as a bold, blunt, hands-on actor-writer-producer who loves collaboration, but is actually an insecure, controlling person who hogs the spotlight. (“The promos are all him -- you'd think there was nobody else on the show.”) McGee says Leary demands deference from costars, ostracizes out those who don't grant it, and avoids taking responsibility for unpleasant creative decisions, preferring to subcontract the delivery of bad news to his fellow executive producers, Peter Tolan and Jim Serpico.

“He's a bully, is what he is,” McGee says. “Bullies most of the time don't have the guts to do things themselves.”

McGee says he isn't surprised that Leary never had a face-to-face discussion with him about the decision to write him out, because “that would take a real man to do that. Denis doesn't know how to do that. His persona would make you think he's straight up, he's honest and he's forthright. But I never got an indication of that..The truth is, if he knocked on my door right now, I'd be able to look him right in the eye. I don't know if he could do that.”

Peter Tolan, writer and co-producer, has a different version of events. “Jack is being disingenuous if he says nobody explained to him what was going on. The difference he's drawing is, apparently he wanted to hear [the bad news] from Denis, when the fact remains that Denis is wearing about eight different hats on the show and doesn't have anything to do with the hiring and firing of actors.”

Asked to justify Reilly's death dramatically, Tolan said it was about violating audience expectations. has this comment from Leary:

Leary counters that he simply doesn't handle personnel issues. "It's hard enough to deal with the actors when I'm acting with them," he says. Noting that the series has seen his own character's son and brother suffer sudden demises, Leary says, "It's amazing to me that actors can think that the end is not going to be around the corner."

However, in what should be reassuring news to McGee, Leary added, "When you die on Rescue Me, your part just gets bigger, because everybody comes back as a ghost."

Consumer advisory: Matt Seitz is a friend as well as a colleague.

Some perspective: I don't think anyone who followed Leary's reaction to last season's rape episode should be surprised by some of McGee's comments. I know first-hand that McGee was not happy about that episode -- and, based on this interview, he most likely shared his unhappiness with other people on the show.

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