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Interview with Elmore Leonard and Graham Yost, Master Screenwriters (2010)

Justified on FX official poster one-sheet

“Justified” created by Graham Yost and Elmore Leonard

Raylan has his dark side… But the guy is a hero. I thought, ‘Man, it would be fun to do a show which has a true-blue hero.’

Justified is based on the Elmore Leonard short story “Fire in the Hole” (read it here) which provides the story for the pilot episode, in which U.S. Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens returns to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky, to track his old coal-mining buddy Boyd Crowder, an ex-con now leading a Neo-Nazi terrorist group, after Boyd blows up a black church with an RPG. Raylan meets Boyd at the home of Boyd’s sister-in-law Ava Crowder; [SPOILERS AHEAD] firearms are brandished and Boyd comes out on the wrong end of Raylan’s six-shooter. Boyd dies at the end of the Leonard story, but not in the Justified pilot. Which means veteran actor Walton Goggins will continue to appear (fun link: Walton Goggins’ blog from India in 2009).

Graham Yost is the series creator/Executive Producer of Justified and a veteran writer/director in film and television with an impressive list of credits that includes Band of Brothers, Boomtown, Raines and The Pacific and the feature films Speed, Broken Arrow and Mission to Mars. He won an Emmy for his work on the mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.

Elmore Leonard is an Executive Producer of Justified and the legendary novelist and short story writer whose works have spawned several feature films, including Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, Stick, Mr. Majestyk and 3:10 to Yuma. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana but has lived in Michigan since 1934. He is also well-known for his “10 Rules of Writing.” Read more

Interview with Diane Kruger of “The Bridge” new TV series on FX

Diane Kruger talks about her new series The Bridge, which is based on the Danish/Swedish television series of the same name. (Be aware that there are SPOILERS BELOW in regards to Diane Kruger’s character and some general information about the series.)

Both shows launch with the same brilliant high concept — a body is found cleaved in half, one half placed on one side of the border and one on the other — this forces police from opposite sides to team up to solve the murder. In the original, it was the border between Denmark and Sweden. In the new American series, it is the border between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, and Diane Kruger’s counterpart is played by Oscar-nominee Demián Bichir. Read more

My Lady Cop Can Beat Up Your Man Cop

Kickin’ it Old School with C & L

We’ve seen a fantastic wave of female protagonists on television in recent years, and many of them carry a badge. The viewing public can’t seem to get enough of cop shows, so you can’t go wrong in writing your next pilot in this genre. And why not build your crime procedural around a tough woman with (or, more interestingly, without) a gun? Read more

Writing a TV Pilot (Nurse Jackie) guest blog from Sandra Leviton & Miranda Sajdak

In my ongoing commitment to bring you guys more information on writing for television, I’m happy to host this guest blog from industry veterans Sandra Leviton (FX, Paradigm, Under The Stairs Entertainment) & Miranda Sajdak (Practical Pictures, ABC Family, Adult Swim) and the new Script Chix Pilot Launch Contest

 

When writing any television pilot, it’s important to pay close attention to format, structure, pacing, and character. Without full development of these vital components, even the best of ideas can easily fall apart. To examine some of these elements, we are breaking down the pilot episode of Nurse Jackie, Showtime’s popular series starring Edie Falco. The pilot is written by Liz Brixius & Linda Wallem and Evan Dunsky. Read more

Arrested Development, Netflix and Nolan walk into a bar named VOD for some binge-viewing and we all win

Arrested Development Season Four debuted over the weekend on Netflix, and, although we won’t see any kind of traditional ratings from Netflix, I can safely observe that it’s been a huge trending topic online and in traditional media. I was never a big fan of the show, but I watched the first three new episodes to see what all the fuss was about, and my opinion didn’t change. I admire the effort, but I just don’t find it very funny. The choppy structure and the omni-present narration become grating after a few minutes and I find myself itching to watch a complete scene. “Let a scene play out!” and “Shut up, Opie Cunningham!” may have been heard in my living room as I tried to keep up with what felt like a non-stop highlights reel. Maybe it’s just not my style of comedy; I happen to love Happy Endings, a sitcom that has now been canceled because I was apparently the only one who bothered watching it. Comedy is subjective, we know this. So I was planning to toss AD in the “Don’t Watch” bin with The Big Bang Theory.

But then I heard from a number of sources that the season really finds its groove around episode five or episode seven, depending on the source. In other words, the intricate story and character beats start to come together, pay off and the arc of the season is revealed — but you have to hang in there to really get it. In fact, the creators may have designed it this way intentionally, knowing that the Netflix platform allows for unlimited repeat viewings. Read more

Mad Men Episode 601-602 “The Doorway” Secrets Revealed (kind of, but not really)

I’ve seen it.

The Sixth Season opener of Mad Men? Seen that thing. Twice.

That’s two times, son. A full ten days before it airs on April 7, 2013 on the AMC Network, which is better than only nine days before air.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, oh Big Bang Theory enthusiast, but as a certified Mad Maniac, this excites me so much that I am bursting to talk about it. But, alas, I can’t.

Or can I? Read more

The Americans: the next great show (Updated with Full Pilot embed)

 

I just wanted to throw out a quick recommendation to watch the debut of The Americans on FX on Wednesday, January 30 (in the U.S.). I’ve seen the first two episodes and I was really impressed. Great characters, a fascinating milieu, gritty visuals that recall a classic spy thriller, and LOTS of room to grow.

 

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Mad Men in Black and White

In a unique move, AMC has released the first publicity stills for Mad Men Season 6 and they are in black and white. They remind me of those candid photos from celebrity parties in the 1950S and 1960S. You expect to see Truman Capote or Frank Sinatra in the background of one of these shots.

Mad Men returns on April 7 on AMC.

Click on the pics for massively embiggened size.

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Cast and Creator of Justified discuss the show’s writing

Natalie Zea, Timothy Olyphant and Graham Yost

Justified Season 4 is off to a great start. They’ve introduced several new characters, and our favorite Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens has a baby on the way, a dad in jail and lots of new trouble from the same ol’ Crowder clan. Read more

Golden Globes 2013 Winners

The 70th Golden Globes telecast was a fun show, even if I could have used more Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The love for Homeland continued, unabated, which makes me wonder, if Nikki Finke is correct in that the Golden Globe award goes to the highest bidder, how much money and gifts did Showtime shell out this year, considering Don Cheadle also picked up a Globe for Showtime’s House of Lies (a show that doesn’t seem to have got much recognition elsewhere)? Read more

Justified Season 4 Red Carpet Interviews

Natalie Zea, Timothy Olyphant and Graham Yost

I remember someone telling me that in a good screenplay or teleplay there should be a surprise on every page.
-Graham Yost

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Sitcom writing with the creators and cast of “The League”

The League on FX is now in its fourth season and I recently attended the premiere in Hollywood at the Arclight Cinemas and interviewed the talent on the red carpet. As always, I tried to ask each person about what they look for in a screenplay. Here’s three videos and I will have more coming soon.

Creators and Executive Producers of the comedy series The League Jeff and Jackie Schaffer (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) discuss their writing process:

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THEME: Mad Men Season 5

"The Other Woman"

As per usual, we’ve been diligently watching each episode of the current season of Mad Men and loving every minute of it. In my household, one must respect the golden rule…

In Weiner we trust. Read more

Mad Men Images | Mad Men 501-502 “A Little Kiss”

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Mad Men. After each episode, I comb the web for any and all Mad Men-related material, and since there’s many other nutjobs out there who are also mad for Mad Men, the blogosphere never disappoints.

But most high-profile sites only feature one still photo from each episode, and since I’m on the AMC press list and have access to various publicity materials, I decided I’d work harder to bring you guys more images for your scrapbooks, including ones you might not see anywhere else yet (like the pic above). Read more

Cast of Sunny in Philly on a Great Script

Dearest screenwriter,

They can stop me, but they will never stop my Flip Cam.

I’ve once again turned my tiny (yet 1080p!) lens on an unsuspecting batch of celebrities and asked them what they want to see in a screenplay. Here’s another clip from my video interview of the cast of the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Read more

Cool Viral Campaign: American Horror Story

I’m really liking this viral campaign for the upcoming series on FX, “American Horror Story,” which is created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Galchuk of Nip/Tuck and Glee Fame.

I know what you’re thinking: Wait, the guys from Glee are doing an edgy, creepy horror genre show? Can the guys from Glee actually SCARE us? Read more

Emmy nominations 2011

Louis C.K. in FX channel's "Louie"

The Emmy Nominations are in. Major categories listed below; for the full list, see The Hollywood Reporter.

Writing noms are at bottom, highlighted in blue.

There’s some great choices this year. I’m most excited about these noms… Read more