The eight-episode limited series JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL is a continuation of the adventures of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. The character was first created in the writings of the late Elmore Leonard and then played by Timothy Olyphant in six acclaimed seasons of JUSTIFIED, which ran on FX from 2010 through 2015.
JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL is also on FX, with new episodes on Tuesdays that are available on FX on Hulu the following day. The limited series adds Raylan to the plot of Leonard’s novel CITY PRIMEVAL, about a very bad man, Clement Mansell (played here by Boyd Holbrook) running amok in Detroit. Raylan is at first brought in to just help find a way to bring Mansell in, but soon has reasons to take the case personally. The show is being referred to by its makers as “an extension of the universe,” meaning that there is continuity for JUSTIFIED fans, but newcomers will be right at home, too.
JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL executive producers/writers Michael Dinner and Chris Provenzano were also both executive producers on the original JUSTIFIED. Dinner developed JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL with Dave Andron, and directed several episodes.
Provenzano and Dinner arrive at a party that FX is throwing for the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter press tour in January 2023 (many months before the WGA strike) at Pasadena’s Langham Huntington Hotel, together with fellow JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL executive producer Peter Leonard (son of Elmore Leonard). The trio make time to discuss their saga of Marshal Givens in the Motor City.
ASSIGNMENT X: When did you start putting together the idea that you were going to do a follow-up to JUSTIFIED?
CHRIS PROVENZANO: I don’t remember, because in a way, the gestation was quite a while. We didn’t begin the writers’ room in earnest until, I want to say, the spring of ’21. There was some talk about it in December of 2020, I think.
AX: Was there any hesitation about returning, because you had stuck the landing with the original JUSTIFIED series finale so perfectly?
PROVENZANO: I think there was not a hesitation as much as there was, if we’re committed to doing this, we damn well better do better than what everybody seems to agree is a good ending. So, there was a huge amount of responsibility of, “We can’t screw it up. And if we’re going to do it, it had better not pale in comparison.” So, we held ourselves to a very high standard. And fortunately, with the book as a blueprint.
PETER LEONARD: They surpassed the standard in this. It’s really, really good.
MICHAEL DINNER: We tried.
AX: JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL mostly takes place in Detroit, but you shot primarily in Chicago. How did you approach that as a director?
DINNER: For reasons, because of crew base and such, we shot in Chicago. But architecturally, especially once you’re outside of the city center of Chicago, it’s a pretty good match for Detroit. So, we wanted to make the city a character. I think we did that, with both the characters of the city and the city itself.
AX: In terms of casting, because you weren’t bringing back any JUSTIFIED regulars apart from Timothy Olyphant, is there a vibe that you looked for? Did you have people who you wanted to work with?
DINNER: We cast people who were our first choices. I mean, there are these great characters in the book CITY PRIMEVAL, and then we adapted the characters in the book and added our own characters. We thought they were really rich characters, and we wanted to cast the best actors we could find. And the show had a certain reputation after six years on the air – people wanted to do the show. Actors love doing the show, they love the words that they had to say. So, in some ways, there was a huge amount of interest from the acting community when we said we were going to do this thing.
AX: On JUSTIFIED, the creative team used to say, “What would Elmore do?” Mr. Leonard, are you the ultimate authority on that?
LEONARD: I’m not the ultimate authority. I think these guys [Dinner and Provenzano] are more in tune with that than me, because I’m not writing the script.
PROVENZANO: I think it’s a consensus, [because] almost all of the writers have done six previous seasons. But in a lot of ways, the ultimate authority on Elmore is on Tim. Tim, even in the original run of the show, studied Elmore’s many books like a scholar, not just the one that the show is based on, and really had an absolutely pitch-perfect sense of where we had veered away from the sound, the spirit, the heart of what Elmore means to people when they read it.
AX: Did Timothy Olyphant take any persuading to return to Raylan Givens, or did you come to him and he was immediately happy to do it?
PROVENZANO: I think the idea was in the air. I think around the same time Michael was talking to [fellow executive producer] Sarah [Timberman], Tim had spoken to Sarah, and Tim called Michael, and everyone sort of said, “Maybe we can do something with Raylan, and maybe it could be this book, and maybe if the rights are available …” I think it was one of those magical things that took some doing, but appeared at the right moment for everybody. A lot of the writers had a window and a willingness to go back, so we did.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL?
LEONARD: About Raylan’s relationship with his daughter [played by Olyphant’s real-life daughter, Vivian Olyphant] in the series
PROVENZANO: I’d like them to know that we were as excited to live and dream in Elmore’s world again as we knew the audience would be, so again, we held ourselves to a very high standard because of that.
DINNER: I think it was an opportunity, as Chris said, to go back into Elmore’s world again tonally. But we’re picking up Raylan some years later, at a different point in his life, and we all go through it as we age and get older – what does the world look like in front of us? And I think that’s what the story’s about. He has a certain amount of time before he has to retire, he’s got a daughter that he has a limited amount of time before he loses her and she becomes an adult. And so, I think there’s something very emotional about the story. And on top of that, there’s action, and it’s funny, and it’s entertaining, and scary. For a director or a writer or an actor to do this kind of material is the greatest thrill in the world.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL: Executive Producers Michael Dinner, Peter Leonard and Chris Provenzano chat new limited series on new FX mini-series