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'Rizzoli & Isles' co-star says crime drama is coping with actor's death

In this Wednesday, June 18, 2014 photo, actress Sasha Alexander poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. Season five of Alexander's crime drama

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In this Wednesday, June 18, 2014 photo, actress Sasha Alexander poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. Season five of Alexander's crime drama "Rizzoli and Isles" premiered Tuesday, June 17, 2014, on TNT. The episode was the first to address the death of actor Lee Thompson Young. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - "Rizzoli & Isles" is saying goodbye to Lee Thompson Young, who played police Detective Barry Frost on the TNT crime drama.

The 29-year-old actor was found dead in his North Hollywood home last August of an apparent suicide. In the first episode of the new season, which aired this week, his colleagues learn that Frost has died in a car accident.

Frost's memorial service will be featured on next week's episode (9 p.m. EDT Tuesday). Although the episode was difficult to shoot, said Sasha Alexander, who plays medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles, she hopes it will help fans grieve and begin to heal.

"I hope that people who knew him and adored him and loved him on the show will enjoy it and be able to move through it with us," the 41-year-old actress said.

"Rizzoli & Isles" also stars Angie Harmon as police detective Jane Rizzoli.

Jan Nash signed on as the new show runner just months after Young's death, and had the difficult task of deciding how to proceed with the new season.

"I really do think it was very brave of TNT and Warner Bros. and Jan Nash to embark on handling it head-on," Alexander said. "They might have been like, 'I can't deal with this. I don't know how to handle this,' but they didn't. They went for it and everyone just embraced it and I think that was really just to show our love for him."

Alexander said Young's absence is felt on the set.

"They have not replaced him and don't intend to do so anytime soon," she said. "So his seat remains empty and it's something that we have had to look at and struggle with from day one of shooting."

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Follow Nicole Evatt at http://twitter.com/NicoleEvatt .

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Online:

http://www.tntdrama.com/shows/rizzoli-isles.html

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