Vulture’s Showrunner Survey doesn’t take weekends off, so this afternoon it’s time to check in with Justified sheriff Graham Yost. Before creating the critically loved and very popular FX drama, Yost cooked up the critically loved but barely watched NBC hour Boomtown, a show which would definitely make the Underappreciated Gems of the 2000s Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Yost sadly declines to take any shots at the man who killed that show (Jeff Zucker. Surprise!); as you’ll read, he instead blames himself for a key misstep in the show’s brief history. He’ll also reveal his very good tastes in sixties TV and which Lost character he wishes he’d invented.
What’s the first TV show you remember being obsessed with?
Four: Batman, Wild, Wild West, Get Smart, and Jonny Quest. If I only get one, Get Smart.
True or False: When I was growing up, the day the TV Guide “Fall Preview” issue came out was almost as good as the last day of school.
My parents didn’t subscribe. But the first Saturday morning of the season with new cartoons was huge!
Which show would you like to do a crossover event with and why?
Sons of Anarchy. I’d like to see Raylan (Tim Olyphant) against outlaw bikers.
If you could bring back any killed-off TV character for just one more episode, who would it be?
Mags Bennett (Season 2 of Justified). Because I miss Margo.
Do time slots still matter? Explain.
Not with DVRs and DirecTV, where you get the East Coast feeds of all the cable shows.
Pick one character from your show; which reality show would (s)he be most suited for, and why?
Boyd Crowder on Dancing With the Stars. Walton is an amazing dancer.
If you had an unlimited music budget, which artist or group would your hire to compose the soundtrack for your show? (dramas only)
We already scored on that front when Dave Alvin wrote a song — “Harlan County Line” — for the show.
Which character do you wish you had created?
John Locke on Lost.
What was the biggest creative misstep you ever saw made by a show you love?
The first episode of the second season of Boomtown. I should have fired the writer. Except that I wrote it.
If you could let your kids watch a single episode of your work, which one would it be and why?
“Fearless” in season one of Boomtown. Mykelti Williamson’s character (Fearless Bobby Smith) reveals his childhood sexual abuse. Fearless confronts his abuser but doesn’t kill him, and when he comes outside he finds his partner Joel (Donny Wahlberg) waiting for him. Fearless asks Joel what he would’ve done if he had killed the man. Joel says he knew Fearless wouldn’t. Fearless presses – “but what if I had?” Joel says, “I brought a shovel.” Still the best line I ever wrote.
Which writers’ room in all of TV history would you most like to have gotten to sit in on?
The Mary Tyler Moore Show. James L. Brooks is one of the true geniuses of this business.
Finish this sentence: The hardest thing to pull off on a TV show is …
… convincing your wife and children that it’s actually a job and not just some fun thing you get to do each day where they provide lunch and a snack room.