Taylor Sheridan Reportedly Wrote The First Draft Of The Show’s Pilot In Less Than 24 Hours
Dec 13, 2022
Is anyone working in Hollywood or TV as prolific as Taylor Sheridan? Even the term prolific may not do Sheridan’s recent output justice. He has four (yes, four) seasons of TV hitting this calendar year, with another, Season 2 of “Mayor Of Kingstown,” hitting Paramount+ next February. Next up? Season 5 of “Yellowstone” and “Tulsa King,” with both premiering this Sunday.
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And if the rumors are true, “Tulsa King” came together for Sheridan at a furious pace. The Hollywood Reporter reports that, according to Sheridan’s producing partner David Glasser, Sheridan cranked out the first draft of the “Tulsa King” pilot in less than 24 hours after a casual conversation about actor Sylvester Stallone‘s wish to play a gangster. “Taylor starts to spitball the idea of a fish out of water story for an hour,” Glasser said. “Then, Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., he goes, ‘Check your inbox.’ There is a script he’s already written called “Kansas City King,” and it’s incredible.” That’s seriously high turnover for a series idea, even if it’s only a first-draft pilot script.
The pair pitched Stallone the series that Monday and brought Terence Winter on board as showrunner shortly afterward. But after Sheridan sent the plot off to Glasser, he considered the show off of his hands. “Taylor said: ‘It’s your baby, I just have visitation rights,” recalled Winter, who has complete creative control of the series. The show stars Stallone as Dwight “The General” Manfredi, a mafioso enforcer exiled by his crime family to Oklahoma shortly after his release from prison. Soon enough, Dwight aims to build a crime empire of his own in the Sooner State.
Stallone has always wanted to play a gangster, but he didn’t want his “Tulsa King” role to play into stereotype. Instead, he and Winter tweaked the character to have different nuances than characters on other Winter shows like “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire.” “In the original concept, Dwight was a thug,” Stallone said. “A tough, strong-arm guy. His name was like Tony or Sal — that kind of thing. Then we started adding things like: How do you get sentimentality in there? It’s about the journey. It’s the inability to be recognized or taken seriously, or about pride or hope — those kind of things.” So, don’t expect Stallone’s Dwight to be any regular tough guy on “Tulsa King,” but one that also has the actor’s unmistakable emotional register.
And while Sheridan gave Winter the keys to “Tulsa King,” bringing Stallone on board to star meant bringing the 76-year-old actor’s other talents into the fray, too. In his decades-long acting career, Stallone honed his skills as a writer, editor, and director, too. With 42 writing credits to his name, Stallone eventually made his presence felt in the show’s creative process. But both Stallone and Winter found their creative friction beneficial. “The beautiful thing about working with Terry is it got to the point where some of our ideas would overlap,” Stallone said. “Usually they’re very strict about adhering to what’s written on the page. But I tend to go off the page every now and then and throw in ad-libs. They were a little disturbed at first.”
Winter was more than happy to listen to Stallone’s input for the series, too. “With Stallone, you’re getting a writer, a director, a producer, an editor,” said Winter. “He’s got great ideas, and he’s got strong opinions about things, and he’s been doing this for a really long time at the highest possible level. He’s also been in his own skin for so long that he knows what works and knows what he does well.” Glasser also noted that Stallone was especially keen on getting into the editing room. “He’s been heavily involved in the editing process,” he said, “and it’s been fascinating to watch him make those tough decisions where it’s not just about his character but the universe of the world.”
And the end result of this creative teamwork may end up being Sheridan’s most popular TV series to date. Of course, it will be hard for “Tulsa King” to top “Yellowstone,” but Glasser, Stallone, and Winter all agree they made something special with this show. “You’re going to see colors in [Stallone] that you have never seen,” Winter boasted. “I’m really excited for people to see how funny and charming and emotional he gets. He’s gotten to do things in this show that he’s never done, ever.”
And If “Tulsa King” and “1923,” another “Yellowstone” prequel with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren which premieres in December, both do well, expect more star power to want to join Sheridan’s TV empire. “Taylor has the ability to say, ‘Come take a chance with me, and you’ll feel like you’re on a movie set,’” Glasser said. “You’re going to see even more coming to the table that wants to be a part of his incredibly rich material.”
“Tulsa King” has its series premiere on Paramount+ this Sunday, November 13.
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