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