Exclusive Interview with Hank Steinberg - Creator and Executive Producer of "THE LAST SHIP"

The following interview is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our author reviews and interviews by clicking on the Books category link (and in this case Television as well).  This is the second interview with Hank Steinberg.  The first one is located here (August 2014)

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The Last Ship

Creator and Executive Producer Hank Steinberg
Sundays at 9 PM EST

The Last Ship is an action-packed and explosive TV Show created by the producing team of Michael Bay and Hank Steinberg.  It is based on the novel by William Brinkley of the same name, in which a nuclear war destroys much of civilization with the only survivors being those on board this one ship. The TV series modernized the novel’s storyline yet kept the central idea of the lone ship. The first season aired on TNT last year where the episodes had the crew of the naval destroyer the USS Nathan James assigned to find a cure for a pandemic virus that wiped out most of the world’s population.  This year the plotline had Commander Tom Chandler (played by Eric Dane), the XO Mike Slattery (played by Adam Baldwin) and those on the ship trying to find a way to save humanity from the brink of extinction.  Below is an interview for with Hank Steinberg who also created the hit TV Show Without A Trace.

Elise Cooper:  Did you film on a real Navy Ship?

Hank Steinberg: We film the exterior scenes on a real ship in San Diego.  The Navy has graciously coordinated with us and allows us access to ships in port.  Active destroyers are usually in port half of the year so we try to find a ship and work around their schedule.  For the interior scenes on the ship we use the sets built in Los Angeles.  We use visual effects to show the ship as moving, when they are supposed to be out to sea. 

EC: Did you use a model of a destroyer or what we see on the Universal tour, the pond they created?

HS:  No.  We have a special effects person who makes it appear like the ship is moving in the ocean.  I don’t know much about technology so we get the experts to help.  The computerized technology today is amazing on how real everything looks.  It would have been very difficult to make this show fifteen years ago because of the financial achievability.  The visual effects can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months to finish, depending on how complicated they are.  Then there are a few weeks of editing.

EC:  What about experts, any military?

HS:  Yes.  There are many military advisors on the set who are former Navy, including a few writers. They tell us how to do the action stuff.  We also have people from the Navy who arrange things logistically from being able to film on the ship to providing help with the dialogue, the way people move, and how they act.  We want to be as realistic as possible. We want to make the characters professional and realistic so we consult on how things look, sound, and work.

EC:  Do you have scientific experts?

HS:  We have several including microbiologists and those specializing in kinetics.  Some come to the set to make sure we have the correct props and equipment.  They work with Rhona, Dr. Rachel Scott, to teach her how to use the equipment.  We wanted to make everything scientifically grounded even though what is being accomplished is somewhat more advanced than what has been done.  For us it must be in the realm of plausibility.  The scientists help us formulate how our ideas could happen, making sure the science is actually correct. 

EC:  This season it seems the plots are based on a Holocaust comparison with white supremists. True?

HS:  We did not speak of Nazism so much but I could see why the comparisons would come up.  I don’t think Ramsey thinks of himself specifically as Hitler, but

Chandler does comment about a ‘master race.’  The Immunes led by the Ramsey Brothers seek biological purity instead of racial purity, but do have a sense of their own superiority as inheritors of the race.  There is a sense of primitive tribalism as a result of the breakdown of civilization.

EC:  What about the episode with the children found on an Island. Did you base it on the Lost Boys from Peter Pan?

HS:  No.  We were thinking more of Lord Of The Flies.  We wanted to explore what happens to children when they must survive on their own.  We always wanted to do a story on children survivors without any adults.

EC:  The characters this season have more gray areas than last.  Please explain.

HS:  As the series develops you always want to explore deeper and deeper with the characters.  We put them in different situations to show who these people really are, to show their different sides.  It is interesting to watch how these people deal with impossible circumstances and find the strength and courage within themselves.  For me, I am interested in the ongoing struggle and how they evolve without making them too old-fashioned because we do give them flaws.  The main characters are trying to do the right thing and are up against incredible odds.

EC:  A lot of fans were upset with Commander Chandler for his reaction to Rachel after she killed someone.  Why did he not support her?

HS:  The Commander believes in a moral authority and military discipline.  Rachel violated this code as well as his trust by doing it behind his back, lying to him, and allowing rumors on the ship to run rampant. With the President on the ship there would have been blow back on him as well as the Commander because some of the crew thought they condoned it. 

EC:  But she killed evil so what is wrong with that?

HS:  We are a country that is based on rules of law.  As the population is starting to create a new society they need to make sure someone is put on trial for their wrong deeds.  I know a lot of people were upset with Chandler because Rachel did something that was clearly what they would have done.  Yet, she acted emotionally and did not think about the other consequences.  There is a saying about values: when you only stick to them when they are convenient, then they are not values.  The fact that people were arguing about the Commander’s toughness on Rachel is exactly what we wanted to achieve.

EC:  Why did you decide to kill off certain well-regarded characters?

HS:  It is based on the direction the story is going.  The Israeli soldier, Lt. Ravit Bivas, (Inbar Lavi) bid farewell after getting mortally wounded. When she said the Shema prayer it was very emotional to me because I am Jewish.  We wanted to make it inherently tragic with her.  It was a dramatic inevitability based on her frustrated ideology.

EC:  How do you come up with the antagonists?

HS:  That is the biggest and most important question for the series.  What defines the whole story is the challenges these villains present to the heroes.  We try to create very interesting ones that are fresh and make sure never to cannibalize from previous stories.

EC:  What do you want the viewers to get out of the storyline for The Last Ship?

HS: The same thing I want viewers to get out of anything I have ever written.  I want them to feel for the characters, feel that they are part of a situation, and to feel connected as the story moves along since we live somewhat vicariously through the characters. I want people to think about what would I do, and how would I react in that situation.  Sitting on their couch but feeling as if they are there.


"The Wall", "The Shield", "The Team" -The Latest Batch of Commercials Take a Queue from the USMC

While I appreciate that the Marines stopped using lava monsters in their commercials long ago, they always tend to have the best ones.  Here's the latest USMC commercial...and, as usual, no mention of benefits, jobs, or college, only being a part of something greater than yourself..."The Wall":

 And here the Army talks about sports...or do they? "The Team":

And the Navy, after foundering on a Global Force for Good campaign, has also followed suit with "To get to you, they have to go through us...". Here is "The Shield":

So Air Force, it's been a year since the "Its what we do" commercial...what you got?!

Exclusive Interview with Hank Steinberg - Co-Creator and Executive Producer of "THE LAST SHIP"


The following interview with author and co-creator of "The Last Ship", Hank Steinberg, is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.

[Most of us around here are big fans of Adam Baldwin and of "The Last Ship".]

You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.  

Hank Steinberg the co-creator, executive producer, and a writer for the thrilling TV series The Last Ship discussed his new show.  With great characters and plots the show has the crew of a US naval destroyer forced to confront the reality of a new existence when a pandemic kills off most of the earth's population. The interview with Hank Steinberg is below.

Elise Cooper:  Rumor has it you will be attending the Military Book Fair ( in San Diego on November 8th at the USS Midway.  True?

Hank Steinberg: I’ve had the pleasure of working on the San Diego Navy Base extensively with the Commanders and crews of the USS Halsey and USS Dewey during production of "The Last Ship." We created characters in the show based on the real-life dedication and strength of leadership that we have seen first hand. I am happy to be a part of the Military Book Fair events and book signings on Nov 8th as a way to recognize and thank our active military, veterans, and their families for their incredible service.

EC: The show is based on the novel of the same title by William Brinkley. Did you read it?

HS:  Yes.  I brainstormed with Steven Kane about the storyline.  This book was written in the 1980s about the Cold War era.  The concept has a nuclear war destroying much of civilization with the only survivors being those on board this one ship.  Both the show and the book are about survival.

EC:  Why did you decide to come up with this premise?

HS:  I was asked to come on board after the rights to the book were bought.  I was always attracted to apocalyptic ideas and how it challenges characters.  One of my favorite books in high school was On The Beach by Nevil Shute. There is something primal existential about these worlds.  I was always drawn to these stories.

EC:  What changes did you make from the book?

HS:  We needed to modernize it yet keep the central idea of the lone ship.  We wondered what could wipe out the majority of the planet in this day and age.  The idea of the plague felt much more current and provided more material for the story.  The book and the series does not have a ready antidote.  The key to the series is having someone, a doctor, on the ship potentially coming up with a cure.

EC:  What is the theme of the show?

HS:  How does the crew stay together through adversity and the challenges they need to overcome?  How does it manage when the Navy does not exist anymore and the only thing holding them together in this chaotic world is the Captain’s moral authority, military discipline, their belief in each other, and the hope for the future? 

EC:  Is this art imitating real life?

HS:  We decided to have a rogue Russian bad guy before Putin became somewhat of an enemy once again.  Unfortunately the Ebola outbreak made our show feel more grimly realistic.  The fear of flus and pandemics has always been out there.  This new strain and being in the headlines along with a Russian bad guy makes our show seem more relevant. 

EC:  It’s a nice change that the good guys come out ahead.  Was that intentional?

HS:  I have always been attracted to having heroes in a story.  It is interesting to watch how these people deal with impossible circumstances and find the strength and courage within themselves.  For me, I am interested in the ongoing struggle and how they evolve to become noble people, without making them too old-fashioned because we do give them flaws.  The main characters are trying to do the right thing and are up against incredible odds.  Every time they have a win it is painted with some kind of sacrifice or loss.  This is what makes the show have a bittersweet feeling about it and adds a complexity.  The good characters are noble, trying to do the right thing, generous with their crew, and are upstanding people. 

EC:  Can you discuss the bad guys since they are based on the real bad guys of today?

HS:  We are not trying to make political statements.  It felt right to go to Guantanamo Bay and have it deserted except for a few terrorists.  We had the ship in the Arctic so it followed that the bad guys should be Russian.

EC:  Why did you start the show off in the Arctic Sea?

HS:  We needed the ship away from the mainstream world for months.  We wanted them to remain radio silent because they needed to avoid the Russians knowing they were there.  From that followed the Russian decision to attack them.

EC:  Did you consult with the military?

HS:  Yes.  There are many military advisors on the set who are former SEALs.  They tell us how to do the action stuff.  We also have people from the Navy who arrange things logistically from being able to film on the ship to providing help with the dialogue, the way people move, and how they act.  We want to be as realistic as possible.

EC:  Do you have scientific advisors as well that work with Rhona Mitra, Dr. Rachel Scott?

HS:  We have several.  Some come to the set to make sure we have the correct props and equipment.  They work with Rhona to teach her how to use the equipment.  Rhona is a very dedicated actress and she is deep into the character.  She has done a lot of research about Virology.  She asks a lot of questions from the advisors about viruses.  It is important to her that when she is saying her lines she understands what they mean, where they come from, and why her character is saying it. 

EC:  Did you film on a real navy ship?

HS:  In LA we built a set that mirrors what is on the ship.  We also go to the ship several times a year to shoot other things we could not afford to build on the set.  All the exteriors are shot on a naval ship in San Diego.  We use visual effects to show the ship as moving. 

EC:  Did you film in the actual ocean?

HS:  The actors are in big water tanks and we have the water move like the ocean.  For some of the wider shots we have a double in the real ocean. 

EC:  Can you give a heads up about Season 2?

HS:  It will be back next summer with thirteen episodes.  Next season viewers will understand what a big job it is for the crew to save the world, and the complications that will come with that.  There will be a big twist at the end of Season 1, which propels Season 2, although the trajectory does not change.  There is the possibility of a threat when some of the crew wonders why they have to take orders anymore.

EC:  Will there be any romantic relationships since that kiss between the Captain and the doctor seemed very real?

HS:  The relationship between the two lieutenants will evolve.  If you sensed that there is something between the Captain and the doctor it is probably true. 

EC:  What do you want the viewers to get out of it?

HS: We live somewhat vicariously through the characters.  I want people to think about what would I do, and how would I react in that situation.  Sitting on their couch but feeling as if they are there.


Spread the Word - New episodes of "Enlisted" start this Sunday, June 1 at 7/6c on Fox.

You can go here to Foreign Policy and read why "Enlisted" is the best show on TV.  ENLISTED is the FIREFLY of comedy.


And while the show has been canceled, there are four new episodes that you absolutely will NOT WANT TO MISS.  They will be on every Sunday in June with the finale airing on June 22.  

These are the best four episodes for the show. The episode airing June 1 is supposed to be one of the funniest, and the finale should be incredible. It brings Sgt. Hill's PTS storyline full circle.


B5, Out.


Exclusive Interview with Nelson DeMille - "Plum Island" to be brought to television!

The following is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link in the far right sidebar.

9780446515061_p0_v2_s260x420Plum Island, the New York Times best-selling book by Nelson DeMille, will likely be made into a television series. Produced by Sony and Lionsgate for a cable TV station, each of the ten episodes will be one hour long. This novel introduced the wisecracking, confident, not politically correct, street-smart character, NYPD John Corey. Although Plum Island was supposed to be a stand-alone book the popularity of Corey convinced DeMille to make him the lead in a series of novels. The dean of political thrillers was kind of enough to take time away from writing his next John Corey book to speak with about this project as well as future projects.

Plum Island’s plot begins with Corey on medical leave, recovering from bullet wounds, when his friend, chief of the Southold Police Department, enlists his aid while looking into the double homicide of Tom and Judy Gordon, also friends of Corey.  They happen to be employees of Plum Island, the nearby high-level bio-containment facility located in Long Island, studying deadly diseases such as anthrax and simian Ebola. The investigation originally leads the detectives to suspect the Gordons’ of stealing a vaccine with the motive of peddling it to the pharmaceutical world for billions of dollars. But Corey contemplates a competing theory that the couple might have been involved in selling drugs, or looking for buried treasure. The local murder investigation soon crosses jurisdictional boundaries and draws county, state, and federal investigators with Corey’s nemesis Ted Nash also introduced in this novel.

Although written in 1997 it is still relevant today with the many different issues explored: genetically engineered viruses, bio-terrorism, government cover-ups, and government surveillance.  DeMille commented to, “It will be interesting to see how the screenwriters make it into a contemporary piece.  Originally, pre-9/11 it was not well guarded and was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.  However, today it is under the control of Homeland Security.”

Hopefully the screenwriter, Ron Bass, will be able to capture not only John Corey’s personality but also his partner’s, Beth Penrose.  In all of the Corey books the characters dialogue helps to create a plot that has tension, suspense, and humor, including the silly type jokes DeMille is known for as a writer. The female lead plays the perfect “straight man” to Corey matching his wit, wisdom, and sarcasm. As DeMille describes it, “Usually the women in Corey’s life are the voice of reason.  In the books he brings in his street smarts and the women bring in the logic. The one thing that was told to me is what they might do with Corey’s romantic interests.  They are hinting that possibly he would not ever be married.  What they might do is have the male/female lead romantically involved with some sexual tension.”

How much control will DeMille have over the project? DeMille’s short answer was not much.  However, he has offered his advice and is hoping that Bass will take him up on it.  “I think having the author involved is a good thing because it makes the project more successful.  On the other hand I don’t want to meddle since writing for a TV show is such a different format than what I am used to.  I sometimes wonder why a book property is bought for the screen considering all the changes made.  You wonder if they are buying the story or buying it for the built-in audience of the author. A good TV series allows the viewers to really understand the characters that the novelist has written.  One of my other books was made into a screenplay where they missed everything and the screenwriter did not understand that people want to read and watch other people. Without the jokes and sarcasm the characters do not sound like real people.  My son interviewed to be a screenwriter for this project since in TV land there is a team of writers.  Maybe if he is chosen he will consult with his father.”

If the pilot is successful a TV series will be made with the possibility of a feature film being produced. There is talk that each season will be based on the next Corey book.  His favorite book, The Lion’s Game is considered for the second season.  “Although I resisted a TV series for a number of years I decided to go with it because of the very good cable shows currently on TV.  Also, TV is willing to deal with Islamic terrorism while feature films will not.  The reason for this is the need for movies to be distributed overseas.  They would have to worry about the movie theatre being blown up, threats, and any backlash, while TV shows are just watched in people’s homes. That is why there is great interest in making my latest book, The Quest, into a feature film.  It does not deal with terrorists and is marketed as Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code.”

DeMille also noted the book he is currently working on will be another John Corey novel, A Quiet End.  Corey is no longer with the Anti-terrorism Task Force and now works for the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, essentially being demoted.  His new duties include following people from the foreign embassies.  Assigned to watch the Russian UN mission Corey finds out that one diplomat is a bad guy associated with the KGB.  DeMille noted, “This book is about a resurgent Russia which as you know I thought about long before the Ukraine crisis.  The theme of this book is that the Cold War has come back with Corey understanding the Russian threat as existential and long range. This book is almost like a stand-alone in the same way as Plum Island.”

He also told, the female lead will not be Corey’s wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield who is off to Washington DC after a promotion. “There will be sexual tension with his new partner. He is having problems with his wife since her promotion.  They seem to be drifting apart.  Something has to happen with Kate because the backstory has become cumbersome.”

Fans of the John Corey series are looking forward to two new projects, a new book due out sometime later this year, and a TV series probably entitled Corey.  With any luck, next fall fans will be able to get their fix of John Corey.  Hopefully, the TV series will maintain DeMille’s fingerprint over this great character.

RangerUp Needs You (in Chicago)

Tonight, RangerUp (with Nick and Tim Kennedy) are hosting a segment of a new show being developed by the Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers producers.  The show is about young Americans wanting to join the military and meeting some of the people that have served in it.  It's a cool concept when you think about having the Rangers and an SF Soldier like Tim meeting a recruit.

If you are a veteran in Chicago and want to come out and support RangerUp and the military, here are the details:

    Date:          Today, July, 28, 2011

    Time:          2200 [10pm]

    Location:     Chicago Marriott North West
                        4800 Hoffman Blvd
                        HOFFMAN ESTATES (NW suburbs, not Chicago)

    Attire:          Please wear clothes

Help us out and let people know through Facebook, Twitter, and any other means at your disposal.  Please join us (I'm going to try to be there, too), as It's going to be a very good time.
Update:  Been asked about the attire comment.  It was intended for Rangers and Rugby players.  B5 out.

Casting Call Notice

Got this last night, and am passing it along:

My name is Lauren Kalb and I'm an LA-based casting director, currently casting a new Action/Adventure competition show called "The Assailant" for The Discovery Channel.  I am hoping you will be able to help spread the word about our show by passing on this press release to people who might be interested!

WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR: Highly specialized former military, special forces and/or law enforcement agents who are mentally and physically fit. In each episode, four contestants will have to re-enact actual missions that were executed by elite branches of the military - IDF, Spetsnaz, MI-6, Delta Force, Recon Marines, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, etc.

I have attached our press release with more information about the project. Please feel free to pass on to anyone and everyone (age 18+) as we are looking to cast a number of episodes. Also, feel free to take a look at our website <> so you can become familiar with our slate. We've proudly cast THE COLONY, BULLRUN, PITCHMEN, DUEL, AMERICA'S TOUGHEST JOBS and the upcoming INFRASTRUCTURE VIGILANTE.

Anyone who is interested can email me at <>

As a note, as with requests from the media, this is passed along without comment.  Posting in no way implies endorsement, non-endorsement, or anything other than passing along a request that may (or may not) be of interest to our readers.  If not interested, skip.  If interested, drop them a line.  No animals were harmed in the making of this post, and tax, tag, and title are extra.  Void where prohibited. 


Aguilera screws it up, royally...


Number one TV audience of the year.  Epitome of anyone's career- to sing the National Anthem at the Big Game.  Packers and the Steelers.  Epic teams.  And an audience to match watching it all. 

And she totally blows it.

CAN ANYONE in Hollyweird possibly do it right?  Do any of them give two shits about the USA?  And what was with that Michael Douglas opening to the Super Bowl?  Could that have possibly been any more Leftist?  I thought it was going to be a Democrat Party advert at the beginning. 

But anyway, it's a good game, Jimbo will be satiated (if it continues as such) and we'll all have commercials to talk about... and screwy singers.


Aguilera needs to take a lesson from this little girl-


Spec Ops Casting Call

UPDATE:  I've been in touch with the people working on this, and the winner will have a donation made in their name to the Fallen Heroes Fund. 


Are you former special operations, U.S. or other?  Are you in a position where you can devote a few weeks to a project?  Are you up for the chance to win $100,000?  If so, SPIKE and GRBTV want you:

Most Lethal Flyer

As with most such things, the selection process looks to be "interesting" as they will narrow the field down to a dozen operators for the competition.  The way to get more information is in the image (click to get the larger version); and, the press release is below:

Continue reading "Spec Ops Casting Call" »

Calling All Vets - Extreme Home Makeover Wants You!

Via Soldiers' Angels Germany:

Do you know a Veteran and family whose home deserves an Extreme Makeover? If so, the producers of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition want to hear from you.

When you submit your Extreme Makover application tell them Troy Yocum of Hike for Our Heroes & Soldiers' Angels sent you!

What does it take to be picked for an Extreme Makeover? "We're looking for those special people who have amazing strength of character and never give up. Whether it’s keeping their chin up in really tough circumstances or going out of their way to help others. We want to help people whose stories have really affected their community or made a big difference in other people's lives. There are a lot of people who are heroes to those around them because of the way they inspire others and quietly serve their communities on a daily basis."...

Visit SA Germany for the details on how to apply.