Tag: dean devlin

Providing Leverage: “The Jailhouse Job” & “The Reunion Job”

Leverage is back for a third season this week and for the premiere TNT is airing two episodes back to back. Returning for the new new season are Timothy Hutton as Nate Ford, Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer, Beth Riesgraf as Parker and Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison. The series is once again being shot in Portland, OR (standing in for Boston) and will run for sixteen episodes.

“The Jailhouse Job” – Sunday, June 20, at 9:00PM
Written by John Rogers, Directed by Dean Devlin

In order to save the life of an innocent inmate, Nate must bring down the corrupt warden of the Super-Max prison where he’s currently incarcerated and escape… whether he wants to or not. Elisabetta Canalis and Edwin Hodge guest-star.

“The Jailhouse Job” picks up in the aftermath of the second season finale. Nate is in a privately run prison after surrendering himself so that his friends could go free. The gun shot wound that hampered him in the closing minutes of the finale has healed nicely, so no worries there. The rest of the team (Sophie, Eliot, Parker and Hardison) are all ready to break Nate out, although everyone isn’t certain he should be freed after not keeping them in the loop with his plan. Ultimately, Nate refuses to be broken out as, surprise, he has found them a client within the jailhouse. Lurking in the shadows is a mysterious Italian woman who decides to make life a lot more complicated, if not interesting, for our merry band of con artists.

This first season three episode is as sharp, witty and brilliantly paced as any episode of Leverage previously. The actors have their characters nailed down so perfectly and the banter shoots back and forth with rapid-fire giddiness. There are some great touches for long-time fans (specifically concerning Sophie’s real name) and clever use of a proposed con at the beginning in order to inform first-time viewers exactly what this show is all about. In the first season Nate was the one holding the group together and in the second season everyone else tried to hold Nate together. It would appear that they are all on equal footing this season, thanks to our mystery Italian lady friend, so it will be interesting to see where that goes. Sophie confronts Nate about his drinking at the end of the episode and I think that sort of tells us that Nate has accepted the others as equals and says a lot about the respect he now has for them. Oh, and for those of you still mourning the loss of Hardison’s beloved van, Lucille, take heart; there’s a new girl in town. All in all, a fine return for a series that has always stood out as a quality show.

“The Reunion Job” – Sunday, June 20, at 10:00PM
Written by Michael Colton & John Aboud, Directed by Jonathan Frakes
To uncover a password, the team infiltrates the high school reunion of an amoral software magnate who’s the IT department for the Axis of Evil.

“The Reunion Job” is a great trip down memory lane for those of us that came of age in the 1980s. As the episode description implies, the crew basically steals a High School reunion in order to steal a password from someone playing fast and loose with some very evil men. This episode is chock full of great scenes and character moments. We see two significant flashbacks involving a quick look at what two of our heroes were up to in the 80s and there is a dance at the end that will make long-time fans pretty happy, but it’s the not the dance you think (as in, not the one pictured below). Also, there is a very unexpected wrinkle in an otherwise perfect plan, but thinking on their toes is one of this group’s strengths. Mainly because I’m a computer nerd (geek alert for the low tech on display), but mostly because I went to High School in the mid-80s, I think I like this episode just a bit more than the premiere.

Leverage is back and better than ever. Great scripts, awesome direction and impeccable acting are the hallmarks for the first two episodes of season three. Getting even has never looked so good or been as much fun.

Dean Devlin On ‘Leverage’, The Con-Con And Shooting In Portland

Transcription provided by Katrina Antonette King

Dean Devlin has written or produced many films that you have seen and that have become fan favorites, such as Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day and The Patriot. Recently he has shepherded two successful television projects for TNT, The Librarian movie series starring Noah Wylie and Leverage, now finishing its second season and gearing up for a third. We spoke with Dean on January 20th about the acclaimed weekly series, the upcoming Leverage convention and the merits of shooting a television show in Portland, OR. Note that the specific episode referenced aired the night of the interview.

POP CULTURE ZOO: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today.

DEAN DEVLIN: Oh, no problem.

PCZ: Even though it’s belated, congratulations on the third season pickup.

DD: Thanks! Thanks, we’re very excited.

PCZ: You guys got that within the first month of being back for season two. Did that have any bearing or factor in at all in your plans for the end of the season?

DD: It didn’t factor in for plans for the end of the season, but you know, it was a great morale booster for the writing staff, the cast, the crew. It was really great that they did it so early, because it really energized everybody creatively.

PCZ: Admittedly this may be because I watched way too much TV, but it seems that a number of series that get past the second season, the third season seems to be the slump season, for some reason…

DD: (laughs)

PCZ: Is that anything that you guys were conscious of in working to make sure that didn’t happen?

DD: Well you know, in a strange way, our third season is our second season, because, what with Gina Bellman’s pregnancy, we really had to kind of abandon our plans for the second season and really rethink how we were going to deal with that and how our storylines were going to flow. So in a way, season three is our opportunity to do all the storylines that we originally had planned on doing for season two.

PCZ: Oh excellent! Now speaking of that, Sophie stepping back for a little bit and bringing in the new character of Tara, what exactly did that bring to the table as far as storytelling and what you could do with your characters?

DD: It was a lot of fun. I mean, first of all, Jeri was such a great sport. She came in…it’s always strange to be the step-child, y’know? (laughs) And she came in, she had such a great attitude, the entire cast and crew fell in love with her. She was really a sport about being on the show and doing all this craziness that we do, week after week. And so that made it kind of fun on a production level. But creatively, it gave us an interesting opportunity to explore the Nate/Sophie dynamic in a way that we hadn’t done before, and to really challenge what’s going on between them, and you’ll see in [the remainder of the season], that it took us in a real surprise direction, and I think it made the show better. So again, going into season three, we’ve really kind of reignited that dynamic, and in large part by bringing in this other character.

PCZ: One of the things that I thought was really cool with Tara was that her first, well I guess her first whole episode as being part of the team, she kind of got to be the outsider but also as the audience, making comments like Nate “just says something and walks away?” Kind of plays with your format a little bit.

DD: Exactly! Exactly, we get to poke fun at ourselves, through that character.

PCZ: Exactly. Now, is there any hope that, once Sophie comes back, does that necessarily mean that’s
the last we’ve seen of Tara?

DD: I hope not, I mean we’d love to have that character reoccur. A lot will depend on what Jeri’s doing. But we’d love to bring that character back. As you’ll see how that character evolves, it really turns into a great character for our show. So yeah, we’d love to see her come back again.

PCZ: Now I also understand going into the last few episodes here, we get to see a couple familiar faces in the form of Nate’s ex-wife and also Sterling making an appearance?

DD: That’s right. They’ll both be in tonight’s episode. And we actually change Sterling’s character in this episode. So it’s a really fun one to watch the evolution of Sterling, so Mark Sheppard fans are gonna get a big kick out of tonight, I think.

PCZ: This season was set in Boston, what goes into picking what city you’re going to set the show in?

DD: Well I think we’re going to return to Boston again. It’s turned out to be a very good place for us, because it’s where Nate grew up. And in the first season, so much of our story was about Nate and his son. Now by being in Boston, we’re able to bring in parts, other parts of his history. We started the season by dealing with the Irish mob in Boston, and how he was somehow connected to them, in a peripheral way. Then in last week’s episode, we showed that the bar that he’s actually living above, it was his father’s old bar. And that his father had been a criminal! So by being in Boston, it’s allowing us to learn more and more about Nate and to slowly peel that onion.

PCZ: The other thing that I found interesting was that, it seemed like in the first season, the team they were kind of learning each other – but not necessarily trusting each other, which kind of led into the end of the season with the things going on with Sophie and them all going their separate directions. This season it feels more like they are family, and something like that wouldn’t necessarily drive a wedge between them anymore, and that they’re in it for good now.

DD: Yeah, I think really, the second season’s overarching storyline is, for Nate: if he’s not who he used to be – and he’s not a thief – who is he today? And he’s trying to figure that out, and it’s causing a lot of problems for him internally. As a team, in the first season, Nate was the guy holding them all together. In the second season, they’re kind of trying to hold Nate together!

So I think that the issues of trust and family are always going to be part of this show, because part of what drew
all these characters to be thieves, is their lack of trust for other people. And this is really kind of the first time
in their lives that they’ve found a group that they’re beginning to trust. And it’s opened interesting doors. Christian Kane actually, with his performance, altered our writing in that he came into the second season with this idea
that ever so slightly, Eliot’s heart is starting to open after being completely closed for years and years, and how that’s
causing conflict for him. And that actually affected how we wrote scripts. And it’s setting the direction of where we’re
going with that character. So, I think that essential conflict of a dysfunctional family trying to figure out how
they can function is at the heart of every Leverage episode.

PCZ: Right! And of course, the old ghost of alcohol has come back to Nate.

DD: Yeah.

PCZ: Is that going to continue to play out this year, or is that something that Nate can walk away from?

DD: I think that real hardcore alcoholics can’t just have that one good drink. So, the ghost has shown up, and he’s gonna have to deal with it. And the way in which he deals with it I think is going to be interesting for people.

PCZ: And of course, the season finale this year is going to go over the final two episodes, right?

DD: Yeah.

PCZ: All right, so, Christian Kane loves talking about the show on Twitter.

DD: (laughs)

PCZ: And he kind of slipped in one day, a little thing about, as far as the finale, we’re not gonna see it coming. Is that an accurate summation?

DD: Y’know what, it’s a surprising finale. I have to tell ya. Even after we made it, and we watched it, we were kind of surprised at not just the plot twists but really emotional twists of what happens to the characters and the directions they go. So yeah, I think that people are going to be very, very surprised about this season finale, and.. And in a way we topped what we did last year, which at the time we didn’t think was possible.

PCZ: So after doing, between the two seasons so far, after doing 28 episodes, and you’re coming back to do another 15. Does it at all seem daunting to come up with another 15 cons?

DD: I think that’s probably the toughest part. If you look historically at con shows – I think that we burn 2 cons per episode. So I think we’ve already gone through more con stories than any con show in the history of television. So that’s half the challenge. But what’s been easy actually is finding our villains. We have this thing in the writer’s room, where in the morning they pick up the paper and they start talking up the stories they’re reading, and some point someone’ll go ‘Oh I hate that guy!’ and they go ‘All right, that’s our villain’.

PCZ: There ya go!

DD: So, there’s no shortage of that.

PCZ: I definitely think that’s the aspect that kinda plays in, like the episode with the sweat shop – it seems like you’re definitely tackling targets that are not necessarily the huge corporations but things that people can relate to and maybe all of us have said, ‘y’know I wish I could do something about that, but I can’t.’

DD: That’s the wish fulfillment of our show, people are ever increasingly frustrated at how powerless we seem to be in the face of those who have power and use that power in a corrupt way. So our show is a little chance to punch those guys in the neck.

PCZ: And you do it so well! Now, as someone who lives in Portland, I have to say, we’re all very excited – if I can speak for all of Portland – but we’re all very excited that you guys are gonna be shooting here on the third season.

DD: Well thank you, we love it there. …it’s the best kept secret.

PCZ: What is it initially about Portland that made you want to shoot here and continue for the third season?

DD: Well the initial reasons were financial. There’s a wonderful rebate there, and prices are good, and it’s on the West Coast. And that’s what originally kind of drew us there, but what we discovered when we got there was the enormous amount of talent. And that was a shock to us. We really thought we were going to have to bring many more actors up there, many more crew people, many more behind the scenes people. And the reality is there is a wealth of talent in Portland. I mean, it is an artistic community, I think, at its core. And, we were just shocked at just how much talent we found. And then, we were also surprised on how many varying architectural styles there are within a short distance from each other. So we’ve been able to duplicate – well, you’ll see tonight – we do Kiev! And we’ve done middle America, and we’ve done Washington, and New York, and Boston. So we’ve been able to double Portland for all kinds of different environments. And that’s been – that was the other big surprise.

PCZ: And I assume everyone here has been very embracing of the production being here? Speaking as a person in Portland, it doesn’t seem like you’re gonna get a mass of people watching you shoot while you’re on location, stuff like that here, everyone’s low-key as far as that.

DD: Well, you know what we’ve noticed about Portland, is that it has all the accoutrements of a large city, but at its heart and soul it’s a small town. And we’ve found everywhere we went, people were genuinely friendly and helpful without any agenda whatsoever. And it was so refreshing, and it’s made for such a great experience. When you go to shoot a show in Los Angeles, for instance, and you go into a neighborhood, people turn up their radios, they honk their horns, everybody’s trying to get you to pay them some money to get quiet. You go to shoot on a location in Portland and people come out of their houses with trays of cookies and milk! And it’s just such a different – it’s such a welcoming, wonderful environment to work in.

PCZ: That’s definitely Portland. Now from a director’s standpoint, does it make it, when you’re shooting downtown, does it make it interesting in choosing your shots, making sure you don’t get anything that’s overtly not Boston in the shots?

DD: Well, when we think we’re in trouble, we’ll usually just digitally erase something and change it. But as I said, there are so many different looks to Portland, depending on where you’re, which direction you’re looking in, which part of town you’re standing in. We’ve had no trouble at all doubling it for all kinds of different locations. In fact, we actually had more options than we had storylines. So we’re reverse engineering storylines based on ‘Oh there’s a great location we haven’t shot and that place looks awesome, we gotta do something that takes place there!’

PCZ: We can go there and we don’t even need to go there!

DD: Exactly!

PCZ: Also as part of that, in March, you guys are throwing – I would say you’re kind of throwing Portland a party – but we’ve got the Leverage convention coming up.

DD: Yeah, we’re real excited about that.

PCZ: And what led to the decision to do that?

DD: Well, traditionally when you do conventions for shows, they’re science fiction, fantasy and horror. But the fan base that grew up around Leverage, even in the middle of season one, was so involved and so passionate, that we thought maybe this is a show that could lend itself to a convention. So we decided to run the idea out there – I put something up on Twitter and the response was overwhelming. We started to organize something – we opened up the website for tickets and within 24 hours, the servers crashed from all the people trying to get in. So we realized this is a really unusual fandom. Much more akin to a genre fandom. We thought this could be a real fun opportunity to throw a convention, a way to say thank you to our fans, a way to say thank you to Portland, and to let people have a little bit more hands on involvement in the fandom of Leverage.

PCZ: I noticed that there are a lot of crew members that are going to be there as well. That’s a little bit unusual and interesting. Are you making it so that the fans can interact with everyone in more than just ‘hey we’re here on stage see ya’ kind of thing?

DD: We’re trying to do a bunch of different things. We’re going to have writer’s panels, directors talking about the show. We’re going to be running episodes. We’re going to be doing a workshop on how to make fan videos. We’re going to do a walking tour of locations that we shot at. A select group will actually get to go to our sound stages and see the sound stages. There’ll be photo opportunities with the cast. So we’re trying to share the experience of Leverage in as intimate a way as possible. Tim [Hutton]’s even going to do a breakfast with five randomly selected ticket buyers, just sit down and have breakfast with him and just talk about the show and what it’s like making the show. So, everybody’s on board. The cast has been terrific about it. The people in the crew. Even Jonathan Frakes, who is the king of the conventions, who normally would not do something like this, he’s even volunteered to come down and be part of this. So I think it’s gonna be a real special event. For fans of the show, I think they’re gonna get something out of it.

PCZ: And speaking of Jonathan Frakes, are you still working at having him direct a few episodes for season three?

DD: Oh absolutely, he’s a big part of the Leverage family.

PCZ: Excellent, so just to talk real quick one of your other projects, The Librarian, what’s the status on that? I think last time we talked you were working on a feature film for that?

DD: We’ve been trying to work on that. We’re working on a script right now, and trying to figure out how to finance it independently. But, our little dream right now is to try to turn that thing into a feature. So hopefully we’ll pull that off sometime within the next year.

PCZ: Y’know, I’ll just throw this out there for free: Librarian/Leverage crossover!

DD: (laughs) You never know!

PCZ: Well, I think that’s all I have for you right now. Again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me!

DD: Oh no worries, take care.

Thank you very much to Dean Devlin for his time. Catch the two part ‘Leverage’ season finale airing February 10th and February 17th at 10:00 PM on TNT. ‘Leverage’ will return for a third season later this year.

TNT Tease The Rest Of ‘Leverage’ Season Two

The hit TNT series Leverage resumes its acclaimed second season on January 13th and the network has released some teases of things to come. Below are episode descriptions for the remainder of the season as well as images for the next four episodes. Notably, Mark Sheppard returns as James Sterling as does Kari Matchett as Nate’s ex-wife Maggie Collins. Be sure to tune in to TNT Tuesday, January 13th at 10:00 PM for six straight weeks of brand-new Leverage episodes and remember, things are just getting started as the show will return in the summer for a third season! Leverage is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian) and creators John Rogers (Transformers) and Chris Downey (The King of Queens). The show is produced for TNT by Devlin’s Electric Entertainment.

“The Runway Job” – Premieres Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 10:00 PM
In order to take down an oppressive sweatshop owner, the LEVERAGE team infiltrates the fashion world.
Directed by Marc Roskin
Written by Albert Kim

“The Bottle Job” – Premieres Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 10:00 PM
The LEVERAGE team runs a high-tech version of a classic con on a predatory loan shark in order to save McRory’s bar.
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Written by Christine Boylan

“The Zanzibar Marketplace Job” – Premieres Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 10:00 PM
The team is forced to work with their old enemy Sterling in order to free Nate’s ex-wife, Maggie (guest star Kari Matchett) from a Ukrainian jail and clear her name.
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik
Written by Melissa Glenn & Jessica Rieder

“The Future Job” – Premieres Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 10:00 PM
The team goes after a con man masquerading as a psychic medium (guest star Luke Perry) in order to drain the life savings of his bereaved clients.
Directed by Marc Roskin
Written by Amy Berg & Chris Downey

“The Three Strikes Job” – Premieres Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 10:00 PM
While trying to take down a corrupt local mayor exploiting his love of baseball, the LEVERAGE team runs into an unexpected complication.
Directed by Dean Devlin
Written by John Rogers

“The Maltese Falcon Job” – Premieres Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 10:00 PM
Surrounded by FBI, the team decides to hide in plain sight, while continuing to take down the corrupt mayor and his gunrunning partner. Little do they suspect that Nate has a different endgame in mind for them all.
Directed by Dean Devlin
Written by John Rogers

‘Leverage’ Gets Renewed

We just received great news from TNT as word filters out that on of our favorite shows, Leverage, has been picked up for a third season. Check out all the details below!

The Con is On as TNT Orders Third Season of Hit Series LEVERAGE Popular Series, Starring Oscar® Winner Timothy Hutton, Averages 4.1 Million Viewers and Ranks as Ad-Supported Cable’s #1 Wednesday Program among Adults 25-54, Viewers and Households

Television’s hottest team of con artists, grifters, hackers and thieves will be back again as TNT lines up a third season of its fast-paced drama series LEVERAGE, starring Academy Award® winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People), Gina Bellman (Coupling), Christian Kane (TNT’s Into the West), Beth Riesgraf (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and Aldis Hodge (Friday Night Lights). The network has ordered 15 episodes of the series, which is currently in its second season, airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). The show’s summer finale will air Wednesday, Sept. 9. It will then return to complete the second season in winter, with the third season slated to air in summer 2010.

“Thanks in large part to its engaging cast and clever storytelling, LEVERAGE has proven itself to be one of the most exciting and fun hours on television,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “The producers, cast and crew have been incredible to work with, and we anticipate another wonderful season.”

LEVERAGE is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian) and creators John Rogers (Transformers) and Chris Downey (The King of Queens). It comes to the network from Devlin’s Electric Entertainment and is one of six high-profile original dramas that have populated TNT’s Monday-Wednesday lineup this summer. The six series, which include The Closer, Raising the Bar, HawthoRNe, Saving Grace and Dark Blue, are part of an aggressive TNT strategy to build a slate of quality original programming in primetime.

LEVERAGE scored big in its first season, ranking as ad-supported cable’s #1 show in its timeslot with an average of 3.9 million viewers. The second season has averaged 4.1 million viewers* and ranks as ad-supported cable’s #1 Wednesday program in delivery of adults 25-54, viewers and households. The show is enjoying solid growth when compared to its first season, with viewers up 5% and households up 7%.

LEVERAGE scores tremendously well with DVR users, garnering an extraordinary 66% growth among adults 25-54 when comparing Live to Live + 7 viewing.

In LEVERAGE, Hutton stars as Nate Ford, a former insurance investigator determined to bring down the kind of corrupt bigwigs whose neglect led to the death of his son. His highly skilled team includes Sophie Devereaux (Bellman), a grifter who uses her acting skills to corner her marks; Eliot Spencer (Kane), a “retrieval specialist” with bone-crunching fighting skills; Alec Hardison (Hodge), a gadget and technology wizard who keeps the team connected and informed; and Parker (Riesgraf), a slightly off-center thief adept at rappelling off buildings or squeezing into tight places.

‘Leverage’ Gets A Second Season

Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TNT has announced that the network has given a second season pick-up to the acclaimed series Leverage. Currently airing it’s first season Thursdays at 10:00 PM, the hit series will return for fifteen episodes later in 2009.

“We’re thrilled that audiences and critics have responded so positively to Leverage and made the show a solid hit,” Wright said. “We look forward to another great season of fun and exciting storylines brought to life by the outstanding cast, led by Timothy Hutton, and the incredible production team, headed up by executive producers Dean Devlin and John Rogers.”

Dean Devlin added, “We had an amazing experience shooting the first season of LEVERAGE with such a talented cast and crew and with the full support of TNT behind us. We can’t wait to get to work on season two and take viewers on another adventure with Nate and his team.”

Pop Culture Zoo previewed this great series last year with interviews with Devlin and castmember Gina Bellman, as well as a review of the first episodes. We are absolutely delighted that the series will be back following the conclusion of this first season. Keep checking Pop Culture Zoo for a wrap-up of the first season and a look forward to season two in early March.