They say dying is easy; comedy is hard. Well, last night’s episode—“The Devil You Know”—flipped that debate on its head. On one side of the coin, Jeremy Davies (Dickie Bennett) and Damon Herriman (Dewey Crowe) find comedy with ease while on-the-run after their recent prison escape. Alternatively, Boyd’s storyline navigates the dark depths of drama as he struggles with a traitor amongst his crew.
Well, when it comes to weaving a bit of comedic relief into a dramatic tale, Shakespeare does it best. But Justified Producer Taylor Elmore is a close second! If you’re not laughing when Dewey squirms with panic, trapped inside a black, coroner’s bag… check your pulse.
To find out more about writing for comedy, take a look at the newest blog video where I interview Taylor Elmore and get a behind-the-scenes look at his episode, “The Devil You Know”.
If you’ve watched Justified, you know the theme song. I’d even venture so far to guess that you’ve found yourself on a Tuesday night stompin’ that foot as the teaser rolls out and the bass kicks in.
Yes, you probably know the Justified theme song, but do you know the man behind the tune? Well, you should…
T.O.N.E.-z is a Bronx-based rapper born to make music. Some people just are. His collaboration with Gangstagrass led to the creation of “Long Hard Times to Come” (you guessed it… Justified’s theme song). When Graham Yost heard the song for the first time, he knew he had found his show’s theme. Sometimes it just fits.
Here at Justified we’ve got a lot of love for T.O.N.E-z. And we think you should show him a little love too. You can check out his music at www.tone-z.com and on his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TonezIsHipHop (Don’t forget to hit that “Like” button). If you dig what you’re hearing, increase the love—his album, “High Voltage”, is available on iTunes now. Also, keep an eye out for T.O.N.E-z as he makes a cameo in this week’s episode, “The Devil You Know”.
An Interview with T.O.N.E-z
ME: Hey T.O.N.E-z, tell us a little about yourself? How did you get into music?
T.O.N.E-z: I’m from and still live in the Bronx New York. Music is something that you are born with; it’s something that’s in your soul, your spirit. My evolution stems from life, the more I grow as a person and learn about life it automatically attaches to my passion & lyrical creativity.
ME: What other artists have influenced your music?
T.O.N.E-z: Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury & Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, KRS1.
ME: All great musicians to draw from. So, what’s the story behind “Long Hard Times To Come”?
T.O.N.E-z: Well I received an email from Rench [of Gangstagrass] about FX wanting to use a song we did named “On The Run” for the commercials to “Justified”. Once they used it, it became an underground classic. Keep in mind those lyrics were from 2004 and the commercial was 2010.
Since it became such a hit FX contacted us to record the theme song. Rench sent me a raw drum loop with a baseline and I literally came up with the lyrics on the spot—no pen, no paper—and spit them out along with the chorus in 24 minutes! I was trying to catch an episode of Seinfeld, so I did the lyrics in one take. FX accepted it and the rest is history.
Working with Gangstagrass is great. Rench & some hired musicians do the music and I make the magic happen once my vocals are attached.
ME: When you first heard the JUSTIFIED theme song on-air, what was your reaction?
T.O.N.E-z: I was alone in my room and I literally jumped up screaming “Oh heeellll nah!!” I was and still am super excited every time I hear it.
ME: How did your fans react to “Long Hard Times to Come”?
T.O.N.E-z: They were and still are very proud and very impressed with my work as a lyricist.
ME: What are you working on now?
T.O.N.E-z: I have a new album out named “High Voltage” you can find it on iTunes, Amazon, etc. [I’m] getting a tour put together and hopefully doing more scenes on JUSTIFIED!
ME: So it’s not all music with you. This season you’ll be playing Barnes, one of Limehouse’s henchmen. What was that like?
T.O.N.E-z: First off I’d like to say thank you to Graham Yost, Greg Sill and the whole FX family! Barnes is one of Limehouse’s henchmen and all I can say is Mykelti Williamson, Timothy Olyphant, the whole crew were super cool, very down to earth, and just amazing. It’s an amazing team. On the set everyone showed me real love and were so kool, helpful, and also funny. Mykelti helped me with my lines; he’s a great guy.
ME: If Barnes had his own episode of JUSTIFIED, what would it be about?
T.O.N.E-z: I would without a doubt have Raylan be down with me and welcome him to the dark side. And Ava—OMG, I have the biggest crush on her— [would be] right by my side. Boyd would work at Chucky Cheese. So for 45 minutes on a Tuesday night at 10pm you would see me and Ava riding around doing hold ups—on some Bonnie & Clyde type shit—meeting up at the hotel room and Boyd delivering pizza to us so we can eat and count our money! As for the rest of the cast they’d be doing the complete opposite of their roles. In other words it would be a bizzaro/Twilight Zone episode!
Sometimes bigger isn’t better. And, this week, Co-Executive Producer Dave Andron explains why.
In the first draft, the episode’s final showdown was about swat teams. It was about tactical surveillance. Hell, it was about the whole cavalry. Yet, somehow in the final cut, it became a face-off between just a few individuals with a lot to lose and little time to find salvation. And without the hustle and bustle distractions of Lexington’s finest swarming in the nearby bushes, you could really feel those stakes and get inside the minds of each character.
Sometimes you have to scale it back, so the heart of the story can be built up. Whether it’s a big, action scene or just a moment of desperation in the life of an addict, Justified knows it’s the humanity that counts.
This week I sat down for an interview with Dave Andron to discuss the humanity in his episode, “Harlan Roulette”, and how scaling it back can actually amplify the stakes when done right.
In addition to being one of the nicest and most charming people in show business, Mykelti Williamson makes for one hell of an interview!
His road to Justified started at a young age and traveled through a highway of credits that would make even the most robust IMDb page blush. His career as an actor began at age 9, debuting on the PBS/Nickelodeon production, The Righteous Apples. Through the years, Mykelti could be seen all over the landscape of television and film, appearing in everything from Starsky and Hutch to [Justified Creator] Graham Yost’s Boomtown to the final season of 24. Mykelti is best remembered for his performance as “Bubba” in Forrest Gump. Yeah, that Forrest Gump!
In short, we are very lucky to have Mykelti join the cast of Justified as “Limehouse”—keeper of the sheep, protector of his holler. Like any good Elmore villain, “Limehouse” isn’t all evil. But he can be… when the need arises.
So get ready for a new kind of bad, because, this season, Justified wants you to—
Just as Co-Producer Ben Cavell promised, a lot happens in his episode.
“Cut Ties” deals with the murder of a witsec marshal, Boyd’s infiltration of Tramble Penitentiary (named after one of our writers, Nichell Tramble Spellman), and the introduction of Limehouse—the biggest, coolest, smartest, most-calculating hill-country badman who ever lived.
And in the midst of everything, Carla Gugino makes her first appearance as Deputy Director Goodall, a high-ranking marshal from Raylan’s past who happens to be quite easy on the eyes. Raylan’s eyes, that is.
I sat down with Ben to discuss his episode and was astounded by some of the secrets revealed. Check out our interview for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at this week’s episode, “Cut Ties”.
It takes a whole slew of people to take a scene from the page to the screen. There are the writers who birth a world from words, the best boy who illuminates the way for the camera and the set designer who somehow turns an LA location into a Harlan holler. Frankly, there are too many people involved to name them all.
To give you a glimpse of a scene’s genesis, I selected the most badass scene from this season’s premiere. Then I sat down with the writer, the actor, the director and the editor involved to discuss what it takes for a scene to go from the script to cut.
For one night only, the Justified team hung up their stetsons, dressed to the nines and put all blood feud aside for a very special screening of this season’s premiere, “The Gunfighter.” The much-anticipated evening began with a walk down the red carpet and, luckily, the cameras were standing by to capture all the smiles and excitement.
Yes, Raylan once dated Ava and now Ava’s with Boyd. And, yes, Winona isn’t quite sure about her future with Raylan. But, on the red carpet, stars Timothy Olyphant, Natalie Zea, Joelle Carter and Walton Goggins get cozy for a photo-op. (Above)
Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins and Neil McDonough prove that they can get along, even when their characters battle for the control of Harlan. (Above)
Justified’s newest villains, Mykelti Williamson and Neil McDonough, show some of the muscle behind their characters. (Above)
The dangerous beauties of Justified, Joelle Carter and Natalie Zea, have a little fun on the red carpet. (Above)
All our favorite marshals—Nick Searcy, Erica Tazel and Jacob Pitts. It’s not easy concealing a weapon in eveningwear! (Above)
The two sides of the law—Raylan and Boyd—pose for a picture with Justified’s Creator and Exec. Producer, Graham Yost.
Graham Yost and Timothy Olyphant smile for the camera with FX President, John Landgraf. (Above)
The third season of Justified premiered last night with a bang! Actually, I believe it was five bangs… but who’s countin’? After a long spell of anticipation, season three’s first episode—“The Gunfighter”—throws us right back into the world of Harlan and, boy, does it feel good to be home.
A lot was left up in the air at the end of season two. Will Winona’s pregnancy bring her and Raylan closer, even when the job keeps pulling them apart? And with Mags Bennett pushing daisies now, will Boyd rise up as Harlan’s undisputed kingpin? Well, if you watched last night’s premiere, you know that every answer raises new questions, and therein lies the season.
Keep comin’ back week after week for more Justified on FX at 10pm, Tuesday nights. And if you are, in fact, keepin’ a body count, I’d recommend a mighty big abacus this season.
In the meantime, check out my latest video. I got the opportunity to sit down with the premiere’s writers, Graham Yost and Fred Golan, to discuss the behind-the-scenes making of season three’s first episode.
When it comes to the soul and feel of Justified, the Cumberland River Band just seems to get it. The Kentucky bluegrass band’s music roared in season two of Justified, adding rich guitar staccato and regional-born harmonies to the landscape of Harlan. Graham Yost recalls seeing the group perform for the first time, “From the moment a bunch of us writers and producers heard the Cumberland River Band perform in Harlan, I thought we should somehow get them involved in the show. Their music has all the dexterity and intricacy you expect from bluegrass, but it also has an emotional drive, an urgency, that I just knew would fit well with what we’re trying to do on Justified.” This creative give-and-take continues with the band’s newest music video for their song, “Justified”.
Click on the music video’s link below to hear the story of a “Harlan man” who once “worked down in the mines.”
In the writers’ room at Justified, characters live and die by the code. This code, often referred to as the “show bible”, includes the dos and don’ts for each character, storyline and setting. After all, a Harlan man isn’t the same as his Lexington-based brethren. And if caughton the barrel’s end of a shotgun, Raylan and Boyd would each have their own, unique approach to the same dilemma. It’s these codes that drive the world of ; but when in doubt, you’ll often hear the writers ask, “What would Elmore do?”
With Graham Yost guiding the room, Elmore Leonard’s novels and characters have helped mold the show and its bible. Recently, I came across an article with a set of its own do’s and don’ts for Justified. As it turns out, we seem to agree on more than a couple of things. Check out the article by clicking the link below: