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.”
In the case of Justified, Leonard says that he’s satisfied with the way his words have been used and adapted. “The writing, I can’t believe it sometimes it’s so good,” he said. “It’s usually a lot better than what I would have done in a scene. These guys are pros.” But Leonard hasn’t always been happy with the end result, particularly on big screen projects. One would be The Big Bounce: It was made twice “because it wasn’t bad enough the first time,” he quipped. “I don’t think anyone in that picture even knew what it was about.” But be claims not to remember all of the bad ones. Yost was told of what an executive producer on the forthcoming A&E western saga Longmire said at a TCA session on Friday night — namely, that while its lead character is driven by love and goodness, Justified lead Raylan Givens is defined by anger and violence. Yost: “I actually think Raylan is driven by a love of anger and violence. Well actually, I don’t think Raylan is driven by any one thing.” Leonard admitted that he didn’t understand that view of Givens. “I think he loves what he’s doing,” Leonard added, “and that’s killing a number of people.”