Of course, all things were looking good, and who really expects Scorsese to hand in crap, but now it's finally official. HBO has given a 12-episode commitment to Boardwalk Empire, including that pilot.
The series takes place in 1920s Atlantic City and features Steve Buscemi as an important city figure, as well as a bootlegger. I absolutely love it when HBO does period pieces like this. They seem to excel at authentically bringing these bygone eras to stunning life.
Prohibition was a tumultuous time in this country, and I can just imagine how intense things got in a hotbed for seedy behavior like Atlantic City. And then there's Buscemi. Brilliant, unpredictable, I can't imagine anyone better to play a character who's described as "equal parts politician and gangster." HBO's hit streak looks to keep on going.
(S06E02) "Who would've thought I'd be the only one guaranteed to have sex tonight?!?" - Turtle
I know I've said it before, but one of the things that I've always loved about Entourage is how the writers behind the show seem to have this uncanny knack for re-creating exact conversations that I've had with my friends before. I know I'm not the only one out there who's had a laugh with their buddies trying to figure out how exactly did Seth Rogan get laid in Knocked Up? When Turtle made his final point ("His ugliness is oddly fascinating."), it was like deja-vu for me.
Then they went and killed the moment when Vince got that nudie pic of Sloan's friend. That never happens to me or my friends.
Fortunately, I don't see a SAG strike in the future. However, here are ten things I'm betting will happen by the time the ball drops on December 31st.
1. Martin Scorsese will be the next big thing on HBO. He's producing a drama based on the book Boardwalk Empire. HBO is overdue to launch another big series in The Sopranos tradition. Boardwalk Empire seems to have all the right elements: violence, sex, gambling, and Oscar-winning, iconic director Martin Scorsese.
I'm crazy for HBO, and one of the shows I'm really looking forward to is Boardwalk Empire, a pilot executive produced by Martin Scorsese (who's also directing), Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, and Terence Winter (who's also penning the pilot).
Based on the Nelson Johnson book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, the project chronicles the 1920s origins of Atlantic City, New Jersey. From what I've read, it sounds like a mix of The Departed, The Sopranos and Goodfellas -- all favorites of mine. And the cast they've got lined up couldn't be better.
Steve Buscemi plays Nucky Johnson, a businessman who runs a liquor distribution ring at the beginning of Prohibition. Michael Pitt (pictured) is in negotiations to play Jimmy Darmody, a bright, young, ruthless WWI veteran who serves as a flunky for Nucky, but yearns for more power.
Buscemi has never been a leading man, to my knowledge; however he's an extremely versatile character actor and has always had a prominent supporting role in every drama or comedy in which he's appeared (my favorite still remains Airheads. Yeah, I'm weird that way).
He's no stranger to HBO drama either, as he had a sizable role in one of its most critically acclaimed dramas The Sopranos. He directed episodes of that show as well, before he even got in front of the camera. Martin Scorsese has also historically been attracted to mob dramas, so it seems like a good match.
The show itself has a lot of talent behind it (including Mark Wahlberg, who also executive-produces Entourage), so this show has a better chance of being a hit than most others, particularly anything on network TV.
Variety reports that while the big four networks are cutting back on their sitcoms and dramas for more reality fare, cable networks have been ramping up their dramas, comedies and dramadies and are now in a position to compete for some real ratings.
And it's not just in quantity where cable has tipped the scales.
(S05E12) "She's treating me like she usually treats Johnny." - Vince
Things certainly weren't looking good for Vince. But in true Entourage style, something always works out. Despite the fact that this was one of the strongest episodes of the season, I really wish it had ended differently.
Admittedly, at this stage of his career this seems a bit like slumming. He has once before directed for television (an episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories in the '80s). Honestly, where else is there to go? He's won the Oscar already. He's even directed Michael Jackson. It's his series (he's the executive producer along with Wahlberg), so everybody wins with this deal.
I note how he has gone away from his native setting of New York City in his more recent work (for example, The Departed took place in Boston), and now he's decided to cross the Hudson River into New Jersey. As a Jersey native, I can only say: it's about time!
ABC really needs to stage an intervention with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It really does. Because, year in and year out, the Academy puts on an Oscars ceremony that not only runs far longer than the network intends, it just ends up boring the crap out of viewers, many of whom are asleep by the time the real categories are decided.
This year's ceremony ran from 8:30 PM ET (after a Road to the Oscars red-carpet special that was just pointless and dull) to about 12:15 AM. That's 3 hours and 45 minutes of speeches, montages, and musical numbers. My god; even the Grammys aren't that bloated, and it's nothing but musical numbers.
But this is more of a case of corporate synergy and a jam-packed show than the desire to semi-reunite Scorsese and Liotta. Both the movie and the series are owned by Warner Brothers, and the premiere clocks in at close to an hour, leaving little room for commercials. So either the episode had to be severely cut or air in an awkward 90-minute slot; this limited-interruption method helps everyone out. Too bad networks can't do this more often.
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