Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Shades of Blue’ prepares to fade to black

Complex police drama begins its third and last round

The third and final season of “Shades of Blue” begins Sunday, June 17, on NBC.

Satisfied that it’s done what she wanted it to, Jennifer Lopez is more excited than blue about the start of her police drama’s final season.

“Shades of Blue” returns to NBC for its third and last round Sunday, June 17, with Detective Harlee Santos (Lopez, also an executive producer of the show) having escaped the clutches – presumably – of obsessed FBI-agent admirer Stahl (Warren Kole), and Lt. Matt Wozniak (Ray Liotta) dealing with being shot by an unlikely assailant. Bruce McGill (“Rizzoli & Isles”) joins the series for its victory lap, playing a self-styled intelligence operative, with Nick Wechsler (“Revenge”) also a recurring co-star now.

“We always knew that we would only do this (show) for a few years,” Lopez says. ”I started on it as a producer, and I never planned to star in it. I helped develop Harlee and the other characters, and it was so daunting to take it on (as an actress) because usually, those are seven-year commitments. I put it out there from the beginning that I didn’t know if I’d be able to do that, but they were like, ‘If you do this, we’ll go on the air with 13 episodes right now.’”

Jennifer Lopez begins the third and final season of “Shades of Blue” Sunday, June 17, on NBC.

Ryan Seacrest is among Lopez’s production partners on “Shades of Blue,” and she reflects, “When we were going through the journey of Harlee and where she could go, we got to the point where it was like, ‘OK, this is the end of the story.’ It ends in a perfect way, kind of beautifully tragic and yet not. It’s complex.”

While Lopez also has done her share of drama in movies, she cites Harlee as “one of my favorite characters I’ve ever played. She permeated my soul in a way that I never imagined. I always knew it would be exciting, because there weren’t a lot of complex female characters out there to play, and this was super-special in that sense. That’s why I took the leap of faith, knowing all of the other responsibilities I had, but also knowing I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity as an artist.”

Lopez isn’t kidding about “other responsibilities.” In addition to her Las Vegas concert residency that continues into this fall, she’s a producer and judge on NBC’s ”World of Dance,” now in its second season (and already renewed for a third). Her demanding schedule has pushed back a planned live staging of “Bye Bye Birdie” for NBC a couple of times, but she believes that still could happen.

Though Lopez says portraying Harlee “made me stronger and tougher, and changed me,” doing a weekly drama series again is a question mark for her: “I don’t know. Maybe in a limited run.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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