TCA: FX’s ‘Justified’ EP On Final Seasons, Life Without Elmore Leonard & The Late Writer’s Upcoming Tribute

By | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 3:00pm PST

Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

UPDATED, 3 PM: There were plenty of plot and story questions about what’sTCADeadline__140109155905 in store for the sprawling ensemble of characters on the FX series Justified at today’s TCA. A few tidbits from EP Graham Yost: “You will see the Harris brothers again. I’m not going to tell you who you’re not going to see again.” The current fifth season will be a big season for the character of Art Mullen (Nick Searcy). In Season 6, expect more on the relationship of Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) and Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts).

Related: TCA: Lost Ad Revenue Biggest Challenge To TV, Says FX Networks Chief John Landgraf

2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 6But two questions loomed larger: A) Why will the sixth season be the last? and B) What life is like without the late Elmore Leonard, on whose writings the series is based?

Related: FX Confirms ‘Justified’ Endgame Plans

First, the final season: “A lot of it was just figuring out how much story we had left,” Yost said. “Our biggest concern telling these stories is that we don’t run out of story and start repeating ourselves. Although there were financial incentives to keep it going, it really felt in terms of the story of Raylon Givens in Kentucky, that six years felt about right.” Read More »

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Toronto: Elmore Leonard’s ‘Life Of Crime’ Near U.S. Deal With Lionsgate/Roadside

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions are nearing a deal for a tag-team release of Life Of Crime, Daniel Schechter’s black comic adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s book The Switch. The deal will be for U.S. rights and it will be worth several million dollars. I will try to get more specific when it closes. The film stars Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior, Tim Robbins and John Hawkes. The picture’s World Premiere at Toronto doesn’t happen until Saturday night, when it plays as the closing-night film of the Toronto Film Festival. It has screened for buyers and press and industry.

Related: A Replay Of A Few Minutes With The Late, Great Elmore Leonard

The film features some of the characters from the Quentin Tarantino-directed Jackie Brown, which was based on the Leonard novel Rum Punch. This one takes place 15 years earlier when career criminals Ordell (Bey) and Louis (Hawkes) team up to kidnap the wife (Aniston) of a corrupt Detroit real estate developer (Robbins). The husband refuses to pay the ransom for his wife’s return and the ex-cons are forced to figure out a Plan B to get paid.

Lionsgate and Roadside have done several successful collaborations that include Margin Call and Arbitrage, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Those are among the most successful multi-platform releases, but I’m hearing this will likely be a theatrical release. There is certainly a strong cast here. Schechter told me recently that he wrote the script on spec and then was invited by the author (his idol) to hunt down the rights to The Switch because he and Michael Siegel couldn’t remember where they were. Two years later, Schechter collared those rights and got Leonard’s blessing to move forward. Schechter was eager to show the film to Leonard but the author died at 87 a week before Schechter got the film finished. Leonard would have been in attendance at Saturday’s premiere as well. Read More »

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As Adaptation Of Elmore Leonard Classic Heads For Toronto, Its Director Laments That His Idol Won’t Be There To See It

By | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 4:50pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Like so many directors with Toronto-bound films, writer/director Daniel Schechter has been in a race to finish Life Of Crime, his adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch. Schechter was particularly in a hurry because the 87-year old Leonard’s health was shaky and he was eager to see the movie after giving a free option to a relative newcomer who was crazy enough to adapt the novel on spec and then clean up rights issues that led all the way to France. Sadly, Schechter didn’t get done in time to show his literary idol the film that will be the closing night Gala Premiere at Toronto, starring Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Mos Def, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher and Will Forte.

“I would read his novels and to me it was like sheet music, where I would say, I know I can play that piece,” Schechter told me. “So I did a foolish thing. I adapted his book on spec, even though the only research I did was that I didn’t find it on IMDB. I transcribed a very good book into a script, felt I’d made some clever editorial decisions, and sent it in a Hail Mary pass to Elmore’s manager Michael Siegel. He took a shining to it, but didn’t know who owned the rights because it predated him.” Read More »

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‘Justified’s Graham Yost Remembers Elmore Leonard; Tributes Planned For Season 5 & DVD

By | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 3:07pm PDT

“It’s hard even when you know it’s coming, and we knew,” Justified showrunner Graham Yost told Deadline of Elmore Leonard‘s passing today. “Once he had the stroke – it was a left brain stroke, and he was really was non verbal after – we got an update every day or two on how it was looking. It was pretty clear that it wasn’t looking good.” Yost says plans are already underway to pay tribute to Leonard before the next season begins. “We’ll do something for the Season 4 DVD set, and I’m sure we’ll do something on the first episode of the new season.” Yost and his writers had already plotted to integrate more Leonard characters into the series’ upcoming fifth season. “Before he had his stroke we were thinking, you know, we’re headed to end of the series, we’ve maybe got two seasons left – so we wanted to bring in the Crowe family which is a big part of his world. We’ve got Dewey Crowe on the show but there are other Crowes that populated his books and we thought it would be fun to focus on that.” Read More »

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A Replay Of A Few Minutes With The Late, Great Elmore Leonard: On Movies, iPads, And ‘Freaky Deaky’

By | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 9:13am PDT
Mike Fleming

I’m starting a week off today, and woke up to the depressing news that the great Detroit author Elmore Leonard has died at 87. Like so many who push words around for a living, even if it is in a much inferior fashion, I was in awe of Leonard’s ability to write as only he could. He just made you want to try harder, no matter what kind of writing you did. You could go back to the likes of Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler, but I’m hard pressed to think of a crime fiction author who influenced so many. I swear that after a Leonard book came out, I could feel the influence even on daily journalists who read him. For instance, I read sports columnist Mike Lupica all the time and noticed after every Leonard book came out, Lupica would temporarily incorporate Leonard’s penchant for starting sentences in odd places, and clipping the quotes of his subjects to liven up the dialogue like Leonard did.

His influence on Hollywood is profound and I think he helped make dialogue in crime dramas better. Great dialogue screenwriters like Quentin Tarantino drew from his well, and not just when Quentin turned Leonard’s book Rum Punch into Jackie Brown. Hollywood used to screw up his novels all the time when studio guys, screenwriters and directors thought they knew better than the master. They borrowed his plots but made them super-serious, not understanding that it wasn’t the plots as much as the dialogue and interplay between those great characters that made his books memorable. It got so bad that Leonard stopped writing scripts because he tired of taking orders from inferiors, and preferred to focus on books, where final cut belonged to him.

But then things started to get better for Leonard after the release of Get Shorty, which celebrated the cool wit and humor that was present in all of Leonard’s work. Barry Sonnenfeld’s movie didn’t paint the bad guys with black hats, but let them reveal themselves slowly and playfully. That made it possible to sympathize not only with John Travolta’s loanshark-turned-movie producer Chili Palmer character, but also a stuntman hired as a thug (James Gandolfini), who, after being demoralized by a beating from Palmer, caught his breath and started excitedly describing to his film nut nemesis all the movies he did stunts in. I remember Scott Frank telling me that when he first tried to adapt that Leonard novel as a script, he went through the book and underlined what he felt was vital, in green hi-light marker. By the time he finished, Frank had underlined pretty much the entire book. But Frank and his cohorts managed to start a trend, where filmmakers began to realize that Leonard’s dialogue was pure gold and didn’t need a rewrite.

Frank and Jersey Films producers Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher nailed it yet again when they collaborated with Steven Soderbergh to make Out Of Sight. That film had trademark flawed heroes and tremendous badasses, and for my money the sexiest courtship scene (between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez) that I’d seen in a film since Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe formed their bond in Michael Mann’s The Last Of The Mohicans. And both those films had Dennis Farina. More recently, Graham Yost captured Leonard’s spirit in the FX series Justified, based on the gunslinging deputy U.S. marshal Raylan Givens whom Leonard hatched as a secondary character in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap. The dialogue written for Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens, Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder, Nick Searcy’s Chief Deputy Marshal Art Mullen, and all the bad guys, so captured Leonard’s wit that he told me it had restored his faith in Hollywood, or at least made the earlier slights less bothersome.

I got the privilege of spending some time with Leonard twice. Once in person, as a kid reporter at New York Newsday, when I peppered him with endless questions and recall him telling that one reason his scenes lined up differently than other writers is that he would write the same scene numerous times, each from the vantage point of different characters. He’d then choose the vantage point the felt right, and use that one. Three years ago, I spent time on the phone with him at Deadline, when director Charlie Matthau hooked us up while they were working on an adaptation of Freaky Deaky. Here is a replay of that interview: Read More »

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R.I.P. Elmore Leonard

By | Tuesday August 20, 2013 @ 6:49am PDT

Legendary American novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard passed away this morning in Detroit following complications from a stroke. He was 87. A post on his Facebook page says he was “at home surrounded by his loving family” when … Read More »

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Elmore Leonard Drama From ‘Numbers’ Creators & Hypnotic Gets Pilot Order At USA

By | Friday September 14, 2012 @ 9:56am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: USA Network has given a cast-contingent pilot order to an untitled hourlong project from Numbers creators Nicolas Falacci & Cheryl Heuton, Universal Cable Prods and Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ studio-based production company Hypnotic. It is based on a short story from Elmore Leonard‘s anthology When the Women Come Out To Dance, the book that also features the short story Fire In The Hole that FX’s series Justified is based on. The project centers on a Miami businessman who, contemplating a run for political office, tries to increase his chances of being elected by marrying a Colombian woman who is on the run from her troubled past. What starts as a marriage of convenience quickly escalates into much more as his new wife proves to be more resourceful at “fixing” any problem the corrupt South Miami political scene throws at her husband. Read More »

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Hyde Park Closes At Cannes on Elmore Leonard Project & ‘Midnight Sun’

Hyde Park International closed deals at the Cannes Film Festival on Midnight Sun and the Untitled Elmore Leonard Project starring Jennifer Aniston and Dennis Quaid.

Ashok Amritraj’s company sold the Italian rights to Midnight Sun to Medusa. The Canadian rights … Read More »

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EOne Acquires North American Rights To Elmore Leonard Adaptation ‘Freaky Deaky’

By | Wednesday May 23, 2012 @ 12:57pm PDT
Mike Fleming

CANNES (May 23, 2012) – Entertainment One (“eOne”) announced today from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival that the company is acquiring all North American rights to director Charlie Matthau’s homage to 1970s filmmaking, FREAKY DEAKY. Matthau also penned the screenplay, which is based on Elmore Leonard’s 1988 novel of the same name. The film stars Crispin Glover, Billy Burke, Michael Jai White, Christian Slater, Andy Dick, Breanne Racano and Sabina Gadecki. Matthau andJudd Rubin produced the project, with George Eyde, Louis Eyde, Nathaniel Eyde, Robert Cantrell, Steven Berez, Donald Zuckerman, and Lee Greenberg executive producing. FREAKY DEAKY had its world premiere earlier this year at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Read More »

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Cannes Roundup: Mia Wasikowska, Richard Ayoade, Jennifer Aniston, Ezra Miller

Summer In February
Speranza13 Media, the new sales company run by Camela Galano, has taken on international rights to Summer In February starring Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens along with Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning. Janette Day and Pippa Cross of CrossDay Productions are producing with Jeremy Cowdrey of Apart Films. Sales will start next week in Cannes on the period love triangle shot in Cornwall, England and directed by Christopher Menaul.

The Double
Richard Ayoade’s comedy will  start principal photography May 20. The Submarine director’s second film is inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella. Ayoade and Avi Korine wrote the script about an insignificant man driven to near breakdown by the appearance of his doppelganger. Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor and James Fox star. Amina Dasmal and Robin Fox of Alcove Entertainment are producing. Protagonist is handling international sales. Studiocanal has already acquired UK rights. Mars has France, Golden Scene has Hong Kong, Rialto has Switzerland and Lusomundo has Portugal. Read More »

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UTA Signs Elmore Leonard

By | Tuesday May 8, 2012 @ 1:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: United Talent Agency has signed prolific crime writer Elmore Leonard, who has retained a major Hollywood agency for the first time in his 60-year career. UTA will rep Leonard in film, TV, digital and allied rights. Leonard, who continues with literary agent Andrew Wylie, is eager to see more of his books adapted for the screen. He has written 45 Westerns and crime novels, and 40 short stories.

His enthusiasm is understandable. Leonard’s 2002 short story Fire In The Hole was the basis for the superb FX series Justified, which stars Timothy Olyphant as deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. Leonard told me in May 2010 that he’d sworn off writing screenplays in 1993 (his past scripts include the Charles Bronson film Mr. Majestyk) because he got tired of trying to please movie executives half as smart as he is about storytelling. But Justified provided a big spark, he is an active voice for series creator Graham Yost, and Leonard welcomes other chances to see his crackling dialogue and indelible crime plots on some screen or other. Read More »

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Jennifer Aniston, Dennis Quaid In ‘Switch’ Talks

By | Wednesday February 15, 2012 @ 7:56pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Aniston and Dennis Quaid are in talks to join Ty Burrell, John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey in Switch, the adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel The Switch that … Read More »

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Elmore Leonard In TV For The Money: TCA

By | Sunday January 15, 2012 @ 10:39am PST

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Elmore Leonard is the legendary writer who provided the source material for the FX hit Justified and serves as an executive producer alongside showrunner Graham Yost. He admitted during a TCA panel this morning that he’s always tried to make his stories as visual as possible so they’ll sell to Hollywood. ”From the very beginning I’ve been in it to make money,” the distinguished author said, “and writing visually is the way you do it.” He denied, though, that he cares so much about making money that he becomes indifferent to how the projects bearing his name actually turn out. “Of course I care how it turns out,” he declared. “I don’t just turn something in. But any writer is a fool if he doesn’t write for money. But it all goes together. It’s fun to sit there alone and think of characters and get ‘em into action and then get paid for it.” He has trouble understanding writers who are too shy to show their work to anyone. “I’m wondering, well then what are you doing it for?” Leonard stressed. “You want people to like it. Then you want to get paid for it.” Read More »

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Universal Cable Prods To Produce First Project For Broadcast Sibling NBC: Elmore Leonard Adaptation By ‘Numbers’ Creators

By | Thursday September 29, 2011 @ 10:43am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In its first development season as a broadcast player, Universal Cable Prods has sold two projects, including one to corporate sibling NBC. The NBC project hails from Numbers creators Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton as well as Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’s UCP-based production company Hypnotic. It is based on a short story from Elmore Leonard’s anthology When the Women Come Out To Dance, the book that also features the short story Fire In The Hole that FX’s series Justified is based on. The NBC project centers on a Colombian mail-order bride who finds herself working as a “fixer” in South Miami as she struggles to escape her troubled past. It joins UCP’s Jason Tracey-penned detective drama Metropolitan, also from Hypnotic, which recently sold to Fox. And there are a few more broadcast pitches in various stages, said UCP’s SVP Maira Suro, who oversees the studio’s development for networks other than the UCP-affiliated USA and Syfy. This is part of the recent strategy implemented by UCP and NBC-affiliated Universal Television to each become a full-service TV studio supplying broadcast and cable networks. UCP and Universal TV (formerly Universal Media Studios) were part of one NBC Universal TV production entity, UMS, that was developing for both broadcast and cable until 2008 when UCP was spun off from UMS and cable and broadcast production was split up between the two.

For UPC, supplying NBC is a priority, Suro said. “For us, part of our expansion, along with selling to other cable and broadcast networks, is serving our sister network NBC,” she said. “If we can be in any way part of the network’s success and help its turnaround, that would be fantastic and a win-win.” As for making the transition from producing for cable, where budgets on average are lower, to broadcast, “I’m sure there will be some adjustments but we are not chasing the broadcast model,” said Suro, whose development team includes Stacey Levin, Garrett Kemble and Stephanie Albrycht. “We are very selective in the projects we take out and are doing them efficiently, so we are confident that we can execute them in the same way we do our successful cable series.” “We won’t be taking out a show like Terra Nova,” she added, referring to Fox’s big-budget, live-action/CGI prehistoric drama. One thing the company will need in reinventing itself as a full-fledged studio is to change its name from Universal Cable Prods. Read More »

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Matt Dillon Set For Indie Comedy ‘Imogene’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Matt Dillon has been set to co-star in Imogene, joining Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening in the indie comedy that started shooting this week in New York. Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini are directing, and Trudie Styler and … Read More »

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‘Freaky Deaky’ Gets Cast And Start Date

Mike Fleming

Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, William H. Macy and Craig Robinson are in talks to star in Freaky Deaky, the Charlie Matthau-directed adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel. Shooting starts June 27 in Detroit. The novel has caught the eye of … Read More »

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FX Sets Return Date For ‘Justified’

By | Tuesday December 21, 2010 @ 10:57am PST
Nellie Andreeva

FX drama series Justified will return for a second season on February 9 and will run in the Wednesday 10 PM slot for 13 weeks. Developed by Graham Yost and starring Timothy Olyphant, Justified is based on the works of crime novelist Elmore Leonard, including his short story Fire in the Hole.

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William H. Macy Getting’Freaky Deaky’

By | Monday September 13, 2010 @ 12:43pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE FROM TORONTO: William H. Macy has just committed to star in Freaky Deaky, the adaptation of the Elmore Leonard crime novel about 60s radicals who use their skills for blowing stuff up for entrepreneurial purposes in the 70s. Charlie Matthau wrote the script and is directing. Macy will play Woody Ricks, an alcoholic millionaire  with a passion for show tunes, showgirls and a knack for avoiding getting blown up. Read More »

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