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|First appearance||"Pilot" (The Closer)
June 13, 2005
|Created by||James Duff|
|Portrayed by||G. W. Bailey|
|Occupation||LAPD Detective Lieutenant|
|Family||Liz Provenza (first ex-wife)
Heather Provenza (second and fourth ex-wife)
Sharon Provenza (third ex-wife)
Patrice Parry (sixth wife)
|Children||3 unnamed sons, 2 unnamed step-daughters
6 unnamed grandchildren
Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza is a fictional character from TNT's television crime drama franchise The Closer/Major Crimes. He appeared on all seven seasons of The Closer and all six seasonable of Major Crimes. The character was created by James Duff, and is portrayed by G. W. Bailey. Generally referred to as "Provenza", the character's first name was kept secret until his former partner, George Andrews, was heard to use it for the first time in the penultimate episode of the fifth season. It is said that only captains and above are allowed to address him by his first name and that even his own grandchildren call him "Lieutenant". He is also the only member of his academy class still on active duty with the rest having retired by the beginning of season 2 of Major Crimes.
In the Closer and Major Crimes universe
Provenza is a Lieutenant II on the Los Angeles Police Department. A veteran of the Robbery/Homicide unit, he is selected to join the Priority Homicide Division. Initially, Provenza has no greater love for Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson than any of the rest of the unit, but over time he develops a paternal affection for her.
A seasoned veteran of the Robbery/Homicide unit, Provenza is selected to join the elite Priority Homicide Squad in the beginning of the series. Provenza has served in the LAPD for over thirty years. In 2013 it is revealed that he is the last member of his LAPD Academy class who is still serving on the department. Provenza reveals that he was married four times (twice to the same woman), and in season five he falls in love with another woman, much to his own surprise. It doesn't work out, but in Major Crimes season 3 he meets a woman named Patrice who can match wits with him and with whom he is in a relationship. They later get engaged. In the "Risk Assessment" of Major Crimes, Provenza reveals that his motivation for becoming a police officer is he wanted to help people but hates fire, preferring getting shot to fire. He also states that he enjoys bossing people around as another reason.
Provenza is injured during a shooting incident in the murder room in the second season. He and Johnson are both put on leave following the incident.
He and Lt. Andy Flynn have a close, albeit sometimes caustic, friendship. (During the first season he appears to regard Flynn in a gruff and unfriendly manner, before it emerges in later seasons that the two share a rather amiable history.) After four divorces, Provenza apparently has several children—he complains about paying a lot of child support. In "Next of Kin Part 1" he also mentions having a grandson. In the episode "Dial M For Provenza", he reveals to Assistant Chief Will Pope that the terms of his first divorce require him to split his pension with his first wife, so he therefore refuses to retire. Pope sympathizes with him, having made a similar arrangement with his own first wife.
Lt. Provenza is the senior ranking officer serving in the Major Crimes Division under the unit's commanding officer, Captain Sharon Raydor. He is almost always in command at a crime scene or in the field if Captain Raydor is not present. His years of experience as a detective give him keen insight on criminal behavior which serves the MCD well while working cases. He is often mentoring the younger detectives in his unit whether he wants to or not. Respecting Provenza's many years experience as a seasoned homicide detective, Captain Raydor often asks Provenza for his assessment of a case or incident. When Raydor first takes over the squad, she and Provenza clash often as Provenza feels he should be in charge and she barely outranks him. He also doesn't like her policy of deal-making. However, as the show goes on, he grows to respect her and acts as a fatherly figure to her adopted son Rusty. In one early episode, when Rusty accuses Raydor of not caring about him, Provenza berates him, telling him he may not like Raydor, but she clearly cares very deeply about Rusty. Provenza's words cause Rusty to realize his mistake and make amends with Raydor. As the show goes on, Provenza gets more supportive of Raydor, occasionally referring to her by her first name and comforting her at times. The two come to have an easy working relationship with mutual respect and Raydor relies on him a lot. In return, Provenza follows Raydor's lead and respects her decisions, even if he doesn't totally agree with them.
Near the end of season 2 of Major Crimes, Provenza discovers he needs glasses after failing his marksmanship test multiple times. He resists at first, originally planning to tell Raydor even though it means desk duty for him, but later uses an elderly suspect's glasses to pass the test after seeing how effective they are after jokingly trying them on. Provenza gets a perfect score on his target with the glasses and later gets a pair of his own. Though he doesn't wear them at all times, he can be seen with them a few times, particularly when he shoots Wade Weller despite him having a hostage and Raydor being convinced that Weller was too close to the hostage to risk a shot. The sheer accuracy of his shot while wearing the glasses clearly leaves Raydor stunned and he informs her of his perfect target earlier.
In season 3, Provenza meets Patrice Parry, the grandmother of a victim in one of his cases. Provenza starts dating Patrice and eventually moves in with her. In the season 4 finalie, "Hindsight, Part 5", Provenza and Patrice get married.
An old-school detective, Provenza disagrees with many of Johnson's decisions, but nevertheless harbors a grudging respect for her abilities as a detective and gradually becomes one of her most loyal supporters; he is instrumental in rallying the squad when she is in trouble with the ethics board. He has recently been left in her debt due to a foul-up he had with Flynn, and she forces him to pay off the squad for helping keep him and Flynn out of the fire. At first resenting Captain Raydor as the MCD's new commanding officer, Provenza comes to respect Raydor as an intelligent and shrewd investigator and Lt. Provenza himself earns Capt. Raydor's respect as she notices how he inspires the unit by his example in his dogged determination to catch the violent criminals that the MCD is pursuing.
Provenza has been divorced five times and is shown to be bitter about it, frequently mentioning his ex-wives in a less-than-stellar way. His failed marriages are a running joke with Andy Flynn commenting at Provenza's sixth wedding that "marriage is a beautiful thing. That's why Provenza does it so much." In Major Crimes, when he meets Patrice Parry, Provenza is shown to make a serious effort to make her happy and in return, Patrice is shown to be understanding of some of his hesitations. When planning their wedding, Provenza ultimately gives in to Patrice's wishes for a small ceremony rather than a big one, taking Buzz's advice to do what makes her happy rather than himself. Provenza is shown to truly love Patrice, being so eager to marry her that he responds to a question with "I do" at the wedding before they even start.
He is forced into retirement after a shootout incident in the murder room, but is later reinstated when Johnson makes a deal with the CIA to secretly investigate the murder of an Arab teenager. Provenza helps Johnson greatly in this investigation. When Capt. Raydor takes command of the MCD, after Chief Johnson's departure, Provenza starts helping Raydor, despite a rocky beginning between the two of them.
Provenza frequently wears a white bucket hat while investigating a crime scene with the other detectives. He also wears it to his wedding in "Hindsight, Part 5". The class clown of the team, he always has a witty one-liner ready. However, Provenza has a soft side buried beneath his hard exterior. He reveals small glimpses of it as he slowly warms up to Johnson and begins to show her more respect. Their relationship further improves after the shooting incident in the murder room. He is also very polite to Johnson's mother, which irritates Johnson's father.
Chauvinistic and politically incorrect, Provenza has been forced to attend sensitivity training for his inappropriate behavior and remarks. He has been portrayed enduring a hard time accepting new or different methods for conducting interrogations and solving cases. He resists practically any type of change and initially resented being bossed around by a woman. Above all else, he absolutely hates it when anyone places an item or sits on his desk. Despite this, he comes to respect both Johnson and Raydor and supports Rusty Beck despite him being gay due to his close relationship with the boy.
Provenza, while appearing gruff and hard nosed on the outside, is very sympathetic to the victims of violent crimes and their families. In one episode, after learning that a man used the credit card of a victim that he found in a dumpster to buy his children a Christmas gift because he has no job or money, Provenza is shown to be sympathetic to the point that he gives Tao his own credit card and tells him to get the man the gift he'd wanted before he is released. He is very loyal and protective of the other members of the Major Crimes Unit. He does not suffer fools or arrogant people and is not afraid to verbally chastise people of that ilk.
Provenza can be very brave in moments of peril. After their squad confronted a heavily armed sniper in a violent shootout, a wounded Detective Sanchez told Lt. Provenza that he admires and respects him, because in dangerous situations, "You (Lt. Provenza) never back down."
After Captain Raydor takes in young murder witness Rusty Beck, Provenza forms a bond with the boy, becoming someone Rusty trusts to ask for advice and talk to. While dealing with Rusty's abusive father, Provenza, who is vocally against making deals with criminals, is very pleased for once with the outcome of their deal, saying it's the best one they've ever made and getting the entire team to act as witnesses on the agreement. When Raydor tells Rusty he has a family among them, Provenza agrees. After an incident where Rusty yells that Raydor doesn't care about him and only wants to get rid of him, Provenza notices how upset she is and berates Rusty telling him that while he doesn't like Raydor, she clearly cares a great deal about Rusty. Rusty is immediately sorry when he realizes Provenza's right and sees Raydor's reaction and Provenza shows disgust for what he did. His words cause Rusty to make up with Raydor. Provenza also takes Rusty in for a week when it's too dangerous for him to live with Raydor anymore due to Wade Weller and congratulates him on his testimony in the trial, trying to cheer him up. When Rusty admits to the squad that he is gay, like the rest of the squad, Provenza tries to act surprised but clearly isn't, having grown close enough to Rusty to tell already. Of all the squad besides Raydor, Provenza is clearly the one whose opinion Rusty values most as he pulls him aside to make sure Provenza is okay with it. Provenza, who has been shown to be politically incorrect in the past, cares enough about Rusty that he doesn't care as long as he's not flamboyant, but tells him that being gay is the one thing that he really can't offer Rusty any advice on. When Rusty's mother comes back to ask him to help her get out of jail, he goes to Provenza and asks him for advice, not telling him what his mother said. While Provenza gives advice, he is left concerned by the boy's encounter and gets the security tape of the visit to see what happened. When he sees what Sharon Beck said to Rusty, concerned, he informs Raydor about it and shows her the tape. In another instance, when Emma Rios wanted to interview him in preparation for the Phillip Stroh trial, Provenza was there to support him and stood up to Rios when she got rude and degrading with the young man. Rusty later agreed to talk to Rios but asked Provenza not to be there and to keep Raydor away too as he was worried about their opinions of him if he discussed his past with Rios in front of them. He asked Provenza to pretend keeping Raydor away was his idea instead of Rusty's and Provenza reluctantly agreed. When a decision had to be made about Rusty's future after the threatening letters came to light, Provenza acted as his advocate when Raydor decided to stay out of it. While Taylor and Raydor didn't want Rusty to know about the option of using him as bait to catch Wade Weller, Provenza pushed for him to know, knowing that he deserved the chance to make his own choice. While Provenza was prevented from telling Rusty due to Raydor and Taylor's insistence, his mentioning it leads Rusty to figure it out on his own and go with Provenza's idea.
Awards and decorations
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Lieutenant Provenza.
|LAPD Liberty Award|
|LAPD Human Relations Medal|
|LAPD Meritorious Unit Citation|
|LAPD Police Meritorious Service Medal|
|LAPD 1987 Papal Visit Ribbon|
|LAPD 1994 Earthquake Ribbon|
|LAPD 1992 Civil Disturbance Ribbon|