By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 18, 2012 at 9:00AM
Last night brought excellent news for television fans, with the return of the Elmore Leonard-inspired series "Justified." Now in its third season, the show, which stars Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins, has gone from strength to strength, so much so that we named it our fourth favorite series of the last TV season. Graham Yost is the man behind it, but he's also a veteran screenwriter, with credits like "Speed" and "Broken Arrow" to his name, and he's working on making a return to the big screen for a fairly major project.
Yost is serving as the co-writer and producer on "Major Matt Mason," a film adaptation of the 1960s toy, which has Tom Hanks, with whom Yost worked on the HBO series "From The Earth To The Moon" and "Band of Brothers," writing and producing alongside him. And, as of last summer, Hanks' frequent collaborator Robert Zemeckis was in talks to direct the 3D film. Word has been quiet on the film since, but with Yost on the publicity trail in support of last night's "Justified" premiere, he's let slip some concrete story details on the project.
The writer told Reuters that, "The story is set on the moon, near future, and it's a team of people on a base on the moon, on the south pole of the moon. And of course everything goes wrong. There's no bad guys. There's no aliens. Nothing like that. It's just, can you survive? It's really fun, and it's just been a blast working with Tom on that. We had such a good time on 'From Earth to the Moon' that it's sort of like, 'We've got to go back to the moon. Some way, somehow, let's go back to the moon.'"
We have to say, we were expecting something pulpier and more sci-fi from the project -- Hanks as Mason battling aliens and whatnot, so this is intriguing, making the film sound somewhere between Hanks' last trip out of the atmosphere in "Apollo 13," and Alfonso Cuaron's upcoming astronaut tale "Gravity," perhaps with a little bit of "Cast Away" thrown into the mix. Could it be an adaptation of the 1968 Matt Mason book "Moon Mission," which, crucially, featured the only female character ever to appear alongside the character? The book is online to read here, so you can see for yourself how it matches up to Yost's description.
However, it still seems like a way off yet, as Hanks has a few projects on his dance card first. Yost explains, "Who knows what's going to happen with that, because Tom is very busy now acting in a bunch of things. I think he's doing 'Cloud Atlas' now over in Europe, [and then] I think probably going into the Maersk Alabama thing (Somalian pirate drama 'Captain Philips,' directed by Paul Greengrass). So we'll see if it happens. I hope it does, because we both love lunar exploration."
It's also worth noting that he doesn't mention Zemeckis in reference to the project, so it's possible the talks came to nothing -- the director will be busy with Denzel Washington drama "Flight" until the end of the year, and has a few other projects percolating. Whether or not Zemeckis is involved, Yost knows a thing or two about thrills, and his synopsis has certainly made us more intrigued in a project that we could have cared less about until now. We'll see in the next little while how this plays out.