Friday, January 8, 2010

Elmore Leonard Goes to Kentucky

ONE of the programs that showed me that television could, at its rare best, offer the quality of acting, direction, set design and thematic development of the finest films was "Deadwood," that saga of the Wild West that HBO cancelled after three all-too-short seasons.

So it's exciting for me -- and the few dozen others who followed the show -- that "Deadwood" sheriff Timothy Olyphant will star as a lawman in a new series. The upcoming show, recently renamed "Justified," doesn't resemble "Deadwood" especially, and Olyphant's character, a former coal miner turned U.S. Marshal, does not have the brooding gravity of Seth Bullock. But still.

Here is my piece on the show, which goes up in March. I spoke to several behind the show, including Olyphant, who is a lot more like the series' Raylan Givens than Bullock, and was playing with an itunes playlist that included Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Supertramp (yecch!) in his trailer when I met him.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, the show is based on -- in the pilot, very closely, in later episodes quite loosely -- a character of crime titan Elmore Leonard. The octogenarian author of the novels that led to "Out of Sight," "Jackie Brown" and "Get Shorty" was the common denominator that brought the actors, writers and directors together for this one. His knack for crisp dialogue and rapid sketching of character is on full display in the story, "Fire in the Hole," the inspired the series.

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