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TV Junkie Interview: Ben McKenzie of 'Southland'

Ben-McKenzie-solo.jpg
Ben McKenzie stars as Officer Ben Sherman in TNT's "Southland" (tonight at 10pm)
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Before Ben McKenzie took the role of rookie Patrol Officer Ben Sherman on formerly NBC's and now TNT's "Southland", we all became familiar with him for his portrayal of the conflicted Ryan Atwood in Foxs "The O.C." Tonight the season finale of "Southland" airs at 10pm on TNT - we hope that this series, one of the best that premiered in 2009, makes it back for many more seasons. There is nothing formulaic about this contemporary portrayal of what patrol officers in Los Angeles do every day - the writing is superb and every episode brings a multitude of real LA locations to the screen with an incredible cast that makes every episode that much more real and gripping.

We spoke with Ben via phone last week. [Today @TNTWeKnowDrama will be holding a live twitterview with Ben and co-star Michael Cudlitz from 2-3pm Pacific-

LAist: So [tonight] is the season finale, is it also the series finale?

Ben McKenzie: We don't know whether we will be renewed or not. TNT has been fantastic and have put a lot of muscle behind the show - the ratings have been solid, not spectacular, but a lot of people have been DVRing the show and watching it that way, so I truly don't know if we are coming back yet. I'd certainly happily share the information if I had it but I think TNT is going to take its time to see how we do and how they want to go forward.

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LAist: The LA setting of "Southland" reminds me a bit of "The Shield" but that show was more of a fantasy.

Ben McKenzie: That show did have a dramatic focus on corruption and power plays among certain members of the LAPD. Our show is more of a slice of life of the LAPD, from patrol cops to detectives. If we get to go again, we may have an episode or two that focused on corruption, but that's not really the angle that we're pursuing. "The Shield" was a terrific show and I'm flattered at the comparison.

LAist: You've been involved in the series for a year and a half but have only shot 13 episodes, when you talk about the series now, does it feel a bit like a movie that you did way back when?

Ben McKenzie: We shot the last episode last October so it has been six months of waiting to see these episodes come on, so it is kind of like a movie that we did a long time ago.