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HBO Has Scorsese's 'Boardwalk Empire,' Fisher's 'Wishful Drinking' - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 8th 2010 4:02PM
Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald on the 'Boardwalk Empire' panel at the summer 2010 TCAsEven though the TCA Summer press tour wrapped up yesterday, I'm still in Beverly Hills awaiting my flight back to the wilds of New Jersey. But before I leave, I wanted to talk about HBO's presentation that concluded the tour, mainly for who was there... and who might be there in 2011.

HBO always presents their part of the tour like a broadcast network would, with an executive session and star-studded panels. And, while this summer's lineup had some pretty good star power, I can only imagine what next winter's panels are going to look like. Why? Because HBO showed clips of David Milch's 'Luck,' starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, the dark 'Mildred Pierce' miniseries starring Kate Winslet, and a fifteen-second clip of 'Game of Thrones,' which lit up Twitter feeds everywhere.

Oh, and we might also see Bruce Springsteen, as there's a documentary in the works about the making of The Boss' classic 1978 album 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.'

This time around, HBO had Spike Lee, whom I talked to during a roundtable earlier in the day about 'If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don't Rise,' and Tracy Morgan, promoting his fall comedy special.

But the highlights of the afternoon were the panels for the much-anticipated Martin Scorsese production 'Boardwalk Empire,' and the wonderfully wacky Carrie Fisher, promoting a documentary of her one-woman show 'Wishful Drinking.'

Scorsese couldn't be there in person for the 'Boardwalk Empire' panel, but joined us via satellite from London, along with co-executive producer Terence Winter and stars Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald.

The series is based on the book by Nelson Johnson about the corrupt political atmosphere around Atlantic City in the Prohibition era of the 1920s, with Buscemi playing a fictionalized version of real political boss Nucky Johnson (Buscemi's version is called "Nucky Thompson"). Since the series has fictional characters interacting with real ones, Winter felt it was best to fictionalize Nucky to give the character more freedom.

"I was afraid that, if people started to Google the real Nucky Johnson, they would become ahead of the story, and they would know what became of Nucky or when did he live and die or what he did or didn't do," he said. "So by making him Nucky Thompson, he's Nucky, but he's not Nucky. Our Nucky can do anything and veer off into any directions, and it's much more freeing creatively for myself and my writers. We can just sort of open it up."

Winter feels there's enough of a landscape to have the show run for a long time, joking that he hopes the run is decades long. "You know, it's almost an epic novel, I would hope. And, you know, God willing, we'll have the opportunity to do that."

Buscemi, taking the lead after a long distinguished career of character roles, called the role "one of the best parts I've ever had in my life, and it's just so exciting for me to go to work and to know that these scripts are so strong and to play a character who is ambitious."

For his part, Scorsese was "pleasantly surprised" by the fact that corruption in New Jersey politics isn't exactly an old issue, giving 'Empire' resonance in 2010. He recalled his days as a kid when he'd notice cars with New Jersey plates park anywhere they wanted on the Lower East Side of New York. "And I think a lot of these cars were owned by characters who were rather dubious in a way. So I wondered why Jersey seemed to be a place where you were just able to put a, you know, license plate on your car and park anywhere in New York, supposedly."

Carrie Fisher performs 'Wishful Drinking' on HBOIronically, while 'Empire' is not being shot in New Jersey, Carrie Fisher's 'Wishful Drinking' was; it was recorded at the SOPAC in South Orange. Fisher, who at 53 is already starting to morph into a modern-era Elaine Stritch, came out wearing her original Princess Leia wig, complete with buns. When asked what she felt like donning the wig for her one-woman show, she said, "Like an a--hole. Complete, undignified jerk-off. But other than that, really good."

The show is based on her book of the same name (which HBO gave us and I will be reading on the flight home), where Fisher talks about her show-biz upbringing, her cheating dad Eddie Fisher, her prim performer mom Debbie Reynolds, and the hazards of being a sci fi star at the age of twenty. When someone asked her if she could say anything about 'Star Wars' that hasn't already been said, she shot back, "Well, I talk about, you know, sleeping with all the Ewoks and why Jabba and I split up."

As she left the stage, throwing glitter all over the HBO exec presenting her, a gaggle of reporters followed her to the lobby, while the rest of us hung on for the laughfest that was Tracy Morgan. But while Morgan was serious and thoughtful, only displaying fleeting moments of his signature Tracy-ness, we could hear belly laughs emanating from the lobby. Who knew that Carrie Fisher was going to out-funny Tracy Morgan? That's why people here say, "You never know what's going to happen at the TCAs."

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Ted P

Theres a new Boardwalk Empire Forum!


This is going to be a great show

September 02 2010 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Boardwalk Empire has the opportunity of becoming the next Sopranos/ Deadwood.

August 08 2010 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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