Mayor of Kingstown‘s premiere on Paramount+ is a big step forward for the Taylor Sheridan brand. Not only is it Sheridan’s first streaming series for Paramount, it’s the first project the Yellowstone creator has done that’s not in his modern Western ethos. The crime drama follows a pair of Michigan brothers who oversee a city where the only big business is the prison system, and the lengths they’ll go to in order to keep the city running. Co-created with Hugh Dillon (best known for his acting roles in series like Durham County and Flashpoint), it’s definitely not what audiences have come to expect.
To discuss the expansion of what’s been dubbed the “Taylorverse” and how Mayor of Kingstown differs from the Yellowstone franchise, I spoke to series executive producer David Glasser, who produces the series through his 101 Studios. Glasser has worked with Sheridan extensively and spoke to me about how he sees things from the production point of view and what excites him so much about Sheridan as a creator.
Brittany Frederick: You have a longstanding collaboration with Taylor Sheridan. What was it about Taylor that made you want to build that partnership?
David Glasser: It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve now been working with him for about six years now. I’ve been very lucky in my career to work with incredible filmmakers and storytellers, but you just know when somebody’s the real deal…I knew from the moment I met this guy that he is somebody that would go places and do incredible things.
My job is the easier of the jobs. He creates the world; I just help to execute it. He has this incredible way to just push out material that is fresh and original and different and exciting to viewers. That’s what excites me, is the end product. You have to live with that at the end of it and it all starts with material. That’s the table that Taylor sets early on, is you’ve got to have great material and it’s got to be authentic and real.
BF: Most of your work has been with Taylor. That’s something we’ve seen more of recently, is producers and studios investing in specific creators long-term. For a company like 101 Studios, what’s it like to be investing so heavily in one person rather than diversifying amongst several creators or genres?
DG: Basically at the end of the day, ViacomCBS is given that opportunity. If Taylor was doing a show here, then you’d tell yourself okay, it makes sense to diversify. But the reality is he’s not. He is a studio in himself. He’ll have, in this year, technically three shows on the air. By the end of next year, he’ll probably have six shows on the air. And then it’ll keep growing from there.
We’re doing all kinds of stuff with him in the space, so when you have somebody like him, who can literally move from Yellowstone to Mayor of Kingstown to [the Yellowstone prequel] 1883…You think to yourself wow, okay, he can jump between worlds. You don’t need to look too far if you’re getting that kind of material.
BF: Mayor of Kingstown is almost completely different from Yellowstone. Do you as a producer market this show differently because it’s such a departure from what Taylor is known for?
DG: Exactly. Absolutely there’ll be definitely a viewer base from his world and from Yellowstone, but there’ll be a brand new audience. And I don’t think that anybody would suspect for Taylor that he’s going to stay in one lane. Once he finds a topic or a story or an idea that he wants to invest in, he’ll dive in and that’ll bring some of his audience, could bring all of his audience, may bring part of his audience. But his whole idea is I’m going to open myself up to new audiences that are going to get excited about this world that I’m building.
BF: He’s in that quintessential spot of wanting to expand his brand but not dilute the quality. There are a lot of creators with multiple shows on the air where, once the creator moves on, some of them go into decline. How do you keep growing the brand, but also maintain the high standards you’ve set?
DG: That’s exactly what Taylor wants. Taylor’s world is we are not starting, we are not going to begin it, we’re not even going to think about it, unless we can execute it at the highest level. Just like you said, that is the mantra and it’s authentic and real to what we set out. If we’re changing things, then let’s not do it.
We have an incredible system. We have an incredible partner with Chris McCarthy, Keith Cox over at Viacom. I’ve worked at a lot of places and they give us the runway to land these airplanes so we can actually do it. And it’s busy times—I’m sitting, as we’re speaking, in the middle of a field in Montana filming 1883 while wagon trains are going across the background with 100 head of cattle. But that’s what we do. And that’s part of the job and it’s part of what we do to get it all done.
BF: The producer title can mean different levels of involvement on a project and it’s one of those roles that TV fans don’t know much about. Is there anything, as a producer, that you’d want people to know about your day-to-day?
DG: I have to say my job is, I execute [Taylor’s] vision. That sounds hard but sometimes you’re so lucky because you’re starting with a foundation, you’re starting with something so incredible to start with, you love every day. When the casting tape comes in or once he decided that he wants Dianne Wiest for the lead opposite Jeremy Renner, or he finds an incredible new voice in Emma Laird. That’s the part of it that’s incredible.
Most of the job is done before you ever get to set—in building the world, or us executing the vision and building the budgets and getting the network on board. [When] we get to set that’s the fun part. We’ve done all the heavy lifting at that point, then we have to execute the vision on set. It’s a fun world. And it’s something like I’ve never seen. One minute I’ll be in Montana, the next minute I’ll be in Texas, then I’ll be in Toronto, and it’s just non-stop.
I think the Taylorverse with Viacom is going to be an exciting several years at Paramount+. I think it’s going to be something where there’s going to be this incredible amount of content coming out of this world of Taylor’s. We’re going to give a little bit of different things, a very big span of product, and it’s going to be a lot of fun because I think he’s getting started.
Mayor of Kingstown is now streaming on Paramount+. Watch now by signing up for a 7-day free trial.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.