"Get Shorty" gives us B-moviemaker, D-level mobster, A-plus author


"Get Shorty" -- which debuts debuts Sunday (Aug. 13) -- gives us the best of world, with quirky characters in odd settings. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

LOS ANGELES –
Hollywood keeps trying to turn Elmore Leonard's stories into movies.

It has failed often,
then redeemed itself with “Juastified” and – twice -- “Get
Shorty.”

The first “Shorty”
was a 1995 John Travolta movie. The new cable series is ... well,
semi-similar.

“We've taken the
premise of tough guys, thugs, who fall in love and come to
Hollywood,” said writer Davey Holmes.

And he's borrowed
the basic notion of Leonard, the late novelist: “The juxtaposition
of human frailty with tough guys or with the criminal world is very
funny.”

Miles Daly (Chris
O'Shea) is a thug in Pahrump, Nev. Yes, that's a real name -- “it
kind of sounds like the sound your (butt) makes when you get thrown
out of Las Vegas,” O'Shea said.

It's a place Holmes
knows only from seeing photos on the Internet. It “looked like the
end of the world there,” he said. “So it seemed like a great
place to set our criminal gang.”

Desperate to
re-connect with his wife and kids, Miles finds a blood-soaked script
and takes it to a producer of B movies.

From Roger Corman
and American International to the fictional guy in “Argo.”
B-moviemaking has always been a fun turf. “There's something kind
of kitschy and great about it,” Holmes said.

This B-filmmaker is
a fairly solemn chap, grasping for remnants of pride. It's another
strong role for Ray Romano, who's had several of them lately.

“After ('Everybody
Loves Raymond'), I didn't want to do a sitcom again,” Romano said.
“(But) it's very hard to get people to forget the character they've
seen for nine years.”

Now they might. From
HBO's “Vinyl” to the much-loved indie film “The Big Sick,”
Romano has tackled complex characters. He's an A-level (almost)
actor, playing a B-movie producer.

“Get Shorty,” 10
p.m. Sundays, cable channel Epix; starts Aug. 13