EXCLUSIVE! DEADWOOD/JOHN FROM CINCINNATI ACTOR JIM BEAVER RESPONDS TO MY MILCH BLOG
Well this is a first, at least for me and this little Blog.
Last night I published an entry featuring a letter to Deadwood and John From Cincinnati creator/writer David Milch. I certainly did not write and post it with the belief that anyone besides my family and friends would actually read it, let alone anyone remotely involved with the topic at hand.
This changes everything.
Below is the email I received from actor Jim Beaver (pictured above), who played Ellsworth on Deadwood and Vietnam Joe on John From Cincinnati. He was quite upset with my article, but provides a very detailed rebuttal in response. Frankly, he rips me a new one but I kind of deserve it. I obviously did not have all of the facts regarding the cancellation of Deadwood and birth of John From Cincinnati. I am not apologizing or retracting my post; it stemmed from an honest reaction after watching both series and reading multiple news stories about the subject.
I respect Mr. Beaver as an actor, and totally appreciate the time he took to pen a very passionate response to one blogger’s opinion. He took a risk by sharing some of this information, but I asked and he granted me permission to reprint his email here. He stated that “some of what I said is my impression of events, but I believe them to be true. I’m sure that everyone involved with the shows would have his or her own perspective. This was mine.” I was thrilled but surprised, because some of what he has to say about HBO, Milch and John From Cincinnati is quite eye-opening and potentially controversial.
So here is the original email, in his exact words:
I just read your David Milch blog, and I have to say it got my dander up. There’s an awful lot wrong with your conclusions.
had no intention whatsoever of replacing Deadwood with JFC. He fought
long and hard to keep Deadwood on the air. He was furious at what HBO
ultimately decided. He then spent several weeks trying to raise capital
independently to keep Deadwood on the air by subsidizing the production
costs, which were enormous. He was unable to do so.
written, in its earliest version, before Deadwood ever started. David
had every intention of doing both shows, just as most other TV
producers with a hit show choose to expand on that success with second
or third shows (see David Kelley, Dick Wolf, etc.). Development for a
show can take a year, often more. David, I believe, never dreamed HBO
would drop one show before its time in order to pick up the new one. He
expected (or hoped) they would do both. The day he told me that
Ellsworth was going to be killed, he said he knew how hard it would be
for me to see Deadwood go on without me, but that HBO had promised him
a second show and that I’d be on that. He made it very clear that he
believed that both shows would be in production — not at the same
time, but alternating, so that when Deadwood’s season finished airing,
JFC’s would start, and back and forth. He was dumbstruck, just like the
rest of us, when HBO decided to take on the new show and let the (more
expensive) one they were splitting profits with Paramount on die. To
accuse him of choosing to drop Deadwood in order to do JFC is just
wrong, and it pains me greatly to hear it, because I know how trying
that time was for David.
It’s none of my business whether you
liked JFC. Loads of people did, loads of people didn’t. I was on it and
I had problems with it, sometimes big problems, in terms of following
the dramatic threads. But no one who has ever been present at the
creation of a David Milch show would accuse him of the Mix-Master
approach you described. I understand a little of what David was trying
to do with JFC, and I can promise you that his quest to bring sense and
meaning and order to his perception of the human community was no less
engaged on JFC than it was on Deadwood. It’s widely said that David is
a genius and I am in the camp that believes that. In fact, I thought I
knew what a genius was until I met David and found out what one really
is. But what’s not said, but what is an increasingly vivid part of my
experience with him, is that there is something — dare I say? — holy
about what he wants to do with the lowly tools of television. I don’t
mean that every crumb dropping from his mouth should be revered. It’s
just that I’ve never experienced anything in my life like the devotion
to humanity that I see in him in his creative process. He’s got more
money than God, yet he lives simply. To him it’s all about what good he
can do with his writing. It’s appalling to hear his method on a show
that didn’t resonate with viewers described in such crass and trivial
and dismissive terms as you used. It’s painful, because I see every day
I work with David the pain he experiences trying to say something that
will unite and bandage and assist the human condition.
would have been my favorite show even if I hadn’t been on it. JFC, on
the other hand, would not, because I just didn’t get everything David
was saying. But I feel it was a noble effort and I’m proud to have been
part of it. I wish it and Deadwood could have co-existed as David
originally planned. I think a few people might have had quite a
different take on JFC if that had happened, because a lot of people
weren’t going to give it any kind of a shake just because they wrongly
perceived that David chose to do it INSTEAD of Deadwood.
hoping David retreads me in his cop show, if it gets made. I would work
for him for the rest of my life if he let me. The cop show is mainly
the baby of Bill Clark, the former NY cop who partnered with David on
NYPD Blue and upon whom it’s loosely based. David’s production deal
with HBO, like most production deals, calls for multiple projects. The
cop show, by the way, has been in development for about four years,
since before Deadwood started airing. Who knows, if it had been ready a
year ago, IT might be the show Deadwood fans hated because David
“chose” to do it instead of Deadwood. They’d be just as wrong, but
we’re not a culture that relies too heavily on facts before making up
I’m sorry for the rant. So many people, fans and
entertainment writers, have publicly excoriated David for things they
mistakenly believe he did or wanted or chose, and, while he doesn’t
need my defense, I feel he is too often unjustly blamed and I get
defensive for him. So I hope you’ll take my remarks in the spirit of
increased understanding in which they were intended.” – Jim