Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At a late Friday afternoon panel session promoting A&E’s forthcoming summertime western saga Longmire, the question was asked as to whether the success of FX’s Justified perhaps smoothed the path wheels for Longmire to see the light of primetime. Exec producer John Covony answered succinctly: “The short answer is no.” Why not? “Well, in Hollywood, some ideas are gestating as others are coming to life.” He added that while he’s happy that Justified “helped to make people think about westerns,” he made the point that Justified star Timothy Olyphant and Longmire lead Robert Taylor were quite different in both style and substantive approach to their roles. Exec producer Greer Shephard went further, suggesting that Olyphant’s character “is a man tortured and driven by demons” while Taylor’s is defined by “love and loyalty.” She also doesn’t believe that Justified is even a true western, she thinks it’s more of “a Southern Gothic show.” But Longmire — “The integrity and moral steadfastness of Walt Longmire are tentpoles of the classic American cowboy.”
That may well be true. But this is also true: Taylor, who portrays Longmire, isn’t even American but Aussie. Someone wondered why it seems that more and more Australian actors are snatching the all-American alpha male roles away from U.S. performers. Shephard explained: “To be honest, a trait that was very, very hard to find” in the casting process “was humility. And there are a lot of metrosexuals as well” among American actors who auditioned. Where have you gone, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford?