Justified kicked off its fourth season in a big way: The FX drama's Season Four premiere garnered the show's highest ratings since its series debut. What better way to celebrate a brand new group of adventures about Kentucky lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) than with some scoop on the upcoming year?
Executive producer Graham Yost and the cast shared some tidbits about the new season at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Here's what we learned:
- Raylan and Boyd will come to a crossroads in their relationship when Boyd tells Raylan explicitly that he doesn't like him. "It’s the first time he’s ever really kind of said it that way," says star Walton Goggins. "I think over the course of their relationship Boyd has seen their friendship as one thing and Raylan has seen it as something else. But at the end of this season they may see it the same way, and that is that they don’t like each other. We’ll see where it goes from there."
- Although the show lost regular Natalie Zea to Fox's creepy new thriller The Following, it didn't affect the storyline. Yost says he thinks Winona was fed up with Raylan's antics anyway. "It gave us the chance to have Raylan be a ladies man. I don’t understand it. The ladies like him — I don’t know why," he jokes of Olyphant's good looks. Besides, Zea's deal with The Following allows her to return for three or four episodes. She'll be back for Episode Five, and "you'll see her a couple more times this season," Yost says.
- The producers reached out to Patton Oswalt to appear in Season Three after they found out he was a fan of the show, but scheduling didn't work out. They immediately thought of him when they began writing the character of the constable. "Two writers … found out about this position in the counties of Kentucky of constable. We kind of loved the idea of a guy who’s a cop wannabe," Yost says. How long will he stick around? "As long as he’s willing to play and he wants to, we’d love to have him," he adds.
While FX's Justified follows an all-American hero as he fights bad guys, the network's new drama The Americans might make you think differently about the enemy. Set in 1981, the new show stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as undercover KGB spies during the Cold War. And creator Joe Weisberg would like you to root for them.
"I know it might be a little bit difficult to believe and get used to, [but] we want you to root for the KGB," Weisberg tells journalists during the show's panel. Jokes Russell, "What do you think?!"
Considering we know how the war turns out, don't worry. You won't be considered a traitor. But you can root for the actual Americans as well. "There’s an FBI side of the story that’s told, and when you’re with them, the hope is you’ll root for them too," says executive producer Joel Fields. "It’s a show about marriage, and the marriage is an allegory for international relations. The show is about international relations, and the international relations are an allegory for the marriage. You kind of root for where you are emotionally in the scenes."
Here are a few more things to know about the series before it premieres on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. on FX:
- Timing was a very important factor in getting this Cold War-set show on the air. Says Weisberg, "I think if you tried to tell a story like this about Al Qaeda now I think it would be impossible." Thirty years gives added perspective.
- Weisberg's real-life CIA experience was an asset to Russell and Rhys. The CIA agent-turned-TV writer worked for the agency from 1990 to 1994, and taught the actors some of the skills he learned "down at the farm." Nothing too exciting, though. His main advice? "Don't look too sneaky."
- One of the things that affected Weisberg the most during his time in the CIA was watching the effect the job would have on families. "I think that one of the things I saw at the CIA that most affected me emotionally was how CIA officers and their families live this clandestine life," he says. They can't tell their kids what they do until they're old enough to keep a secret (usually around 14 or 15), when they have a big coming out conversation.
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[PHOTO CREDIT: FX (2)]
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WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Based on the beloved children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs tells the tale of Flint Lockwood an eccentric young inventor who spends his days in a makeshift laboratory building monkey-thought translators spray-on shoes “hair unbalder” serums and other strange creations. Regarded as a troublemaker and a nuisance by the residents of the small town of Swallow Falls Flint dreams of one day making something that will win their respect and earn him a place alongside the Edisons and Da Vincis of the world.
Flint thinks his latest invention a machine that turns ordinary water into gourmet meals at the touch of a button just might do the trick. But his big unveiling goes predictably awry when his machine launches like a rocket through Swallow Falls laying waste to the town square before eventually disappearing into the stratosphere.
Just when it appears that the townsfolk have finally had enough of Flint’s antics salvation arrives in the form of cheeseburgers raining from the sky thrilling the throngs of hungry people below. Success! Flint’s machine actually works — albeit not quite in the manner he originally intended.
WHO’S IN IT?
Lending his voice to the character of Flint is Bill Hader a Saturday Night Live regular who’s appeared in small roles in a ton of high-profile comedies including Tropic Thunder Pineapple Express and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Anna Faris (The House Bunny) co-stars as Sam Sparks a weathergirl whose bubbly on-screen persona masks a keen intellect she’s terrified to reveal — lest she be branded a “nerd” and shunned by the community of shallow talking-head news correspondents.
Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell voices the sleazy manipulative Mayor Shelbourne a wildly ambitious politician who eyes Flint’s invention as his ticket to higher office. James Caan (The Godfather) plays Flint’s well-meaning but emotionally distant father Tim a blue-collar fisherman who can’t find a way to relate to his brainy offspring. And fans of A-Team and Rocky III will instantly recognize the voice of Mr. T as Earl Devereaux the tough-minded town cop whose job is devoted primarily to preventing Flint from inadvertently destroying the town. Rounding out the main cast is Neil Patrick Harris (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) as Flint’s trusted monkey assistant Steve.
The animation of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is truly a joy to behold. With each successive meal that falls from the sky comes a brilliant new array of patterns and colors all of which burst from the screening in dazzling 3-D. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller rightly recognize the visual potential of the source material with its endless variety of colorful food items and serve up a delicious buffet of brilliantly-rendered set pieces.
But the film isn’t just a bundle of digital eye candy. Perhaps most pleasantly surprising about the film is the script’s sharp wit and clever observations which help make the experience enjoyable on a cerebral as well as visceral level.
Lord and Miller who also co-wrote the adapted screenplay did a generally solid job expanding the relatively thin source material for the big screen but the story still feels weak at times. It’s just engaging enough to keep you interested but not quite enough to make a lasting impression.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is something of a culinary rollercoaster. As food first begins to fall from the sky you might find yourself feeling a bit hungry. But as the plot progresses and Flint’s machine starts to spin out of control bombarding the town with every kind of slop imaginable don’t be surprised if your stomach starts to get a little queasy!