Justified creator Graham Yost led the series’ creatives reunion panel at ATX Festival on Saturday afternoon where fans were treated to secrets from the writer’s room. Joining Yost for the special celebration were executive producer and director Michael Dinner and writer/producers Taylor Elmore, Dave Andron, Chris Provenzano, Benjamin Cavell, Ingrid Escajeda, VJ Boyd, and Wendy Calhoun.
The series, following lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), ran for 6 seasons on FX from 2010 until 2015. Earlier this year, a limited series sequel Justified: City Primeval was announced by the network which is currently three weeks into production.
“One of our biggest secrets was our partner FX. We pitched the show to 8 places and we were really fortunate 6 were really interested so it came down to FX and HBO,” recalled Yost. “HBO is one of my favorite pitching stories because I was pitching my heart out and they were giving me nothing back. So I cut out all my jokes and they said it was my best pitch yet. I took out all my funny stuff! By the time I got to the elevators, they made me an offer. But we went with FX because we knew John Landgraf and his team would be open. I just summed up the show as a four-minute scene between a couple of bad guys talking about chicken, and that we could do those types of things where you didn’t know what was going to happen. You didn’t know if two people were going to become best friends or if one of them was going to shoot the other—there was always that tension. FX was critically important to the whole thing.”
Elmore revealed another part of the secret sauce was the U.S. Marshall who served as their consultant and helped inform the standalone adventures on the show.
“Charlie Alonso was our on-set consultant who is the most unassuming and quiet kind of guy who would tell us stories that were like, ‘Holy shit, that happened?’ So we’d say, ‘Ok, we have to use that.’ A lot of stuff came from Charlie and other stuff came was like versions of our own screwed-up pasts that we turned into TV by making it a little more intelligent. Those standalone stories for me were a lot of fun.”
He added, “We had this gift that we could do anything we wanted to as writers: you could do cops and robbers, you get to do romance, you get to do straight drama, and you get to do levity and comedy. No show I’ve ever worked on has ever really had the combination. It’s not just about the people that were involved, it’s the way we approached it that made the show really stand out.”
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