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September 2015

Photo - Rapid Decent



U.S. paratroopers descend after jumping from a C-130 Hercules over a drop zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2015. U.S. and Japanese paratroopers used U.S. and Australian aircraft during the practice jump as part of Pacific Airlift Rally 2015, a biennial tactical exercise. The U.S. paratroopers are assigned to 1st Battalion , 501st Infantry Regiment, and the Hercules is assigned to the 374th Wing from Yokota Air Base, Japan. U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

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)

Lastshiptv (1)

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 blackfive.net 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.


An Opportunity to Share Your Story

Did you do something stupid in combat and barely lived to tell the tale? Did you inhale freon from an air conditioner just before an enemy attack on your FOB? Did you call in an airstrike on the moon or kill a jihadi with a sharpened toothbrush? Want your story featured in a book full of other Joes who did the same stupid shit? Graybeard books, a blood brother of Blackfive, is compiling an anthology of funny stories from warfighters that will be published in 2016. Hit us up if you've got one. 

Submissions go to [email protected].

B5, out.



Photo - Reunion on the Flightline


U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandin Salazar greets his daughter on the flightline on Naval Base Ventura County following his return from deployment on Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., Aug. 26, 2015. Salazar is a steelworker assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, which conducted maintenance and infrastructure improvements at U.S. military facilities in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Lowell Whitman 

Photo - American Badass in Ghazni 2012


U.S. Army Pfc. Kristina Batty dons a headscarf to meet with female Afghan villagers in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, May 5, 2012. Battym a medic assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, is joining Female Engagement Team members to discover what females of the village need. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

Book Review - Robert B. Parker's "The Devil Wins" by Reed Farrel Coleman

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399169465_p0_v1_s192x300The Devil Wins is Reed Farrel Coleman’s second novel since he has taken over the Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series.  Anyone that was a Parker fan and those new to the world of Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone should enjoy these stories.  Coleman expands on the supporting cast of characters he inherited from Parker, is able to create his own very well developed characters that add to the plotline, and allows the readers to learn more about the small town of Paradise, Massachusetts.

In this novel the Paradise’s residents allow readers to see how the town developed over the years.  The reason for this is that the story is both a cold case and a new case having to do with the town’s occupants.  After a storm three corpses are found, a man wrapped in a tarp along with the skeletal remains of two teenage girls.  After being examined the girls are identified as Mary Kate O’Hara and Virginia Connolly, two 16-year-olds who vanished about 25 years earlier during a Fourth of July celebration.  The crime predates Jesse’s arrival into Paradise and also involves one of his police officers, Molly Crane, who was good friends with the girls.  Jesse is attempting to solve these murder mysteries but is stifled by the town’s tight lips and unsupportiveness. 

Enjoying the supporting cast of characters, Coleman noted, “In some way this is a book about Molly. Her regrets are about her past boyfriends, wanting to be a big city cop, and her desire to be a patrol officer. She and Jesse are the central figures.  In this book we see some of her personality other than the wise cracking person to Jesse.  What I am doing with the series is writing the story of the supporting characters.  There were about twelve books about Jesse and the supporting characters played minor roles. But all the characters are so rich I think there is an opportunity to write their stories.  That is the genius of Robert Parker, he left space to explore these characters and the town of Paradise.” 

For those readers new to the series Jesse Stone is a law enforcement officer in the mold of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. They both have insecurities, and will push the line to make sure the victims gain justice.  With both Jesse and Harry, they see themselves as providing victims a voice. But, Jesse is his own character since his life is based on regrets.  He is more of the mold of the old west sheriff, a combination of Matt Dillon and Wyatt Earp.

Coleman commented to blackfive.net, “All Jesse Stone books to some extent are about regret and struggling.  He is really a hands on guy who women adore.  He is a tough guy, very athletic, one of the top former homicidal cops in Los Angeles, and currently the police chief of a beautiful New England town. Since there is not much fault to these attributes he has to have something the average person can relate with, which is his struggles with alcohol and his regret of being injured causing him to not have a professional baseball career. Because Bob Parker always thought of his characters in a western sort of way, I think the reality is Jesse is somewhere between Dillon and Earp.” 

The author also gave a heads up that in January 2016 he is going to have his own book out.  The main character, Gus Murphy, is a retired Suffolk County (Long Island, N.Y.) cop, who is happy with his life. Not an overly ambitious guy, he is satisfied to live a life of retirement, having a great pension, a wonderful wife, and two mostly grown children. But a family tragedy unravels his life. This first book begins two years after the tragedy. Gus finds his way back to life when he decides to help solve the murder of the son of someone he arrested years ago. Coleman is also busy with next year’s Jesse book, Debt To Pay, which will bring back Diana, the former FBI agent.  She and Jesse are romantically involved and work on a case together as the villain Mr. Peppers makes a re-emergence. 

Anyone looking for a good mystery should read Coleman.  He has taken up the torch of Robert Parker and allowed Jesse Stone to grow as a character.  His plots are action packed and fast moving while the characters are relatable and likeable.  The Devil Wins is a riveting and suspenseful novel.

Update/Thoughts And A WARNO

I've been asked more than once recently "What happened to Blackfive?"  The question has come from long-term readers and from people I would never have expected to be readers.  

The common thought behind that question is what happened to our regular, often in-depth, posts on a variety of topics pertaining to the military and national security.  It is a good and valid question.  

Speaking strictly for myself, I think it was a combination of things.  

When Blackfive started, there was a huge interest in, and need for, discussion and explanation of things military for a public that is increasingly disconnected from the military and from issues of national security.  What Blackfive did was provide that discussion, and Matt wisely (IMO) started adding guest posters and then other regular writers to cover a wide range of areas as well as the various services.  

Continue reading "Update/Thoughts And A WARNO" »