“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.”
EXCLUSIVE: It looks like Fox brass are determined to get an aircraft carrier drama on the air. Last season, the network put in development The Bridge, from writer Taylor Elmore (Justified), producer Mark Johnson and Sony Pictures TV. The project, described as a high-octane soap with a touch of Upstairs, Downstairs set on a Navy aircraft carrier, didn’t go to pilot but the network kept it in contention, rolling in to this season. Now Justified executive producers Graham Yost and Michael Dinner have boarded the drama to help with the rewrite, giving it additional clout. Both will executive produce, with Dinner also attached to direct. Elmore is still the writer, with Johnson and his Gran Via still attached, along with Sony TV.
Meanwhile, in August, Fox bought another drama from high-profile auspices with a similar setting, giving a script commitment with penalty to a project from House executive producers Russel Friend & Garrett Lerner and 20th Century Fox TV. Set on a naval aircraft carrier, the untitled show also has an upstairs/downstairs dynamic: the “downstairs” is filled with 18- to 20-year-olds, their coming-of-age stories heightened by the life-and-death nature of their everyday jobs; the “upstairs” is anchored by a female fighter pilot and her season-long quest to solve a murder that occurs onboard.
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.