Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine
Rusty-voiced, sweet-natured, a tin mask covering up his facial World War I wound, Richard Harrow, as played flawlessly by Jack Huston, is the type of vigilante one might find in a DC Comic book, warts and all. But in HBO’s 1920s epic Boardwalk Empire, he’s a supporting character that creator Terence Winter and his writers transformed from late gangster Jimmy Darmody’s trusted sharpshooter into a human being. For the bulk of this season, Harrow refrained from killing off any bad guys as he wooed a war veteran’s daughter and acted as the surrogate father to Darmody’s orphaned son, Tommy. “Richard knows how to kill. He doesn’t do it well; he does it great,” says Huston about Harrow, who even puts fear in lead Atlantic City kingpin Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) “I reminded Terry that I was getting an itchy finger, and he said, ‘Just wait.’ ”
Sundance Channel Developing Dramas Produced By Robert Redford, Sarah Condon, Steve Buscemi, Ira Glass & Bob Cooper
Sundance Channel has unveiled its 2013-2014 original scripted development slate, which includes five drama projects: Valentines from producer Robert Redford and writer Olaf Olafsson, Behind The Sun from producers Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci and writer Dylan Gary, The Descendants (no relation to the 2011 movie) from producer Sarah Condon and writer Aaron Guzikowski, T from producer Ira Glass and writers Dan Futterman and Anya Epstein, and Death In The Modern Age from producers Bob Cooper, JJ Jamieson and Michael Fuchs and writers Josh Shaffer & Eli Kooris.
Sundance Channel’s first wholly owned scripted drama, Rectify, is slated to premiere next year. The channel’s scripted efforts to date have been in the limited series/mini-series area through co-productions and acquisitions. They include miniseries Carlos, Appropriate Adult and the upcoming Restless. Here are details about the projects on Sundance’s drama development slate:
Anthony D’Alessandro is managing editor/contributor to AwardsLine.
For anyone who found the first season of Boardwalk Empire pedestrian with its decadent sets and deliberate pacing, well then, watch season 2: HBO’s Prohibition gangster saga is more breathtaking than a moonshine explosion, triggered in large part by its tin god Nucky Thompson, the crooked Atlantic City political boss played with pungent deftness by Steve Buscemi. In season 2, the beachside Camelot of bootleggers and politicians that Nucky propped up in season 1 emasculate him of his power with an election rigging scandal, leaving the fashion-plaid suited kingpin no choice but to off his rebellious protégé Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) in a shocking finale. While some critics scratched their heads in season 1 over the idea of a character actor playing the lead, it couldn’t be more clear that Buscemi’s steely acting was meant for the part. Look no further than the accolades Buscemi has racked up: a best actor drama Emmy nod last year and a best actor SAG win in January. His coarse stares, machine-gun diction and cocksure swagger are Nucky’s underpinnings as the pivot in this gangland’s Ferris wheel. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather taught that such unhinged behavior leads a man to his inevitable doom, i.e. Sonny Corleone. But in Boardwalk, such manners are prerequisite for survival.
AWARDSLINE: Did you realize early on in the season that Nucky’s murder of Jimmy Darmody was inevitable?
Steve Buscemi: No, it wasn’t obvious to me or anybody. When I talked to Terry (Winter) about why Nucky was taking this course of action,
Fans of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire will be keen to know that Season 3 will pick up “15 months in the future from the end of season two,” as executive producer and series creator Terence Winter confided to a nearly packed house at the Leonard Goldenson Theatre tonight at the TV Academy in North Hollywood. “It’s New Year’s Eve 1922, going into 1923,” Winter teased the crowd. “The world has changed quite a bit,” Winter noted of the ongoing Prohibition era. “Things have gotten quite a bit more violent as Prohibition has gone on and people are running out of liquor. Hence Nucky’s world’s going to change.” Winter added that the upcoming season slated to begin in September will see a rise of gangsters like Al Capone and lots of “consequences and ramifications from what went on at the end of Season 2.” The young, now-orphaned son of the dead Jimmy Darmody who was played by Michael Pitt, will continue to be a part of the series, Winter added.
Is there a trumpet player in Boardwalk‘s future? Alluding to an earlier possible slip of tongue by actor Michael Shannon, Winter also jokingly promised that they’ve “got the band going.” Shannon, who plays disgraced Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden, elicited sharp looks from Winter and star Steve Buscemi during the Evening With Boardwalk Empire event when he interjected, “Time to be someone else.” He quickly added, “Luckily I can play the trumpet,” to which Winter mockingly observed, “Oh. Thanks for giving it away.”
The liquor may not have been flowing speakeasy style, but the Atlantic City gang was all there. In addition to Buscemi, Shannon and Winter, the acclaimed Prohibition era series’ Kelly Macdonald, Vincent Piazza, Gretchen Mol, Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Kenneth Williams took the stage at the Television Academy’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre to discuss the past and, many hoped, the future of Boardwalk Empire. While recently announced Season three regular Bobby Cannavale was not there, former series star Pitt was very much in evidence.
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Why He Was Nominated: The question was never whether Hamm would be nominated. That’s a given. It’s his fourth in a row for his iconic Mad Men role of Don Draper but his first without three-time winner Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad in the race due to that AMC show’s lack of eligible episodes. Many assume that Hamm has already won a couple of these things. The mystifying truth is that no performer from Mad Men has yet taken home an Emmy.
Why He Has To Win: Mad Men creator/showrunner/control freak Matthew Weiner is said to have specifically penned the episode “The Suitcase” as a performance piece for Hamm and co-star Elisabeth Moss (also nominated). It featured the two of them exclusively and powerfully. With Cranston out of the picture, there should be no keeping Hamm from his rightful cruise down victory lane. As a fellow actor and TV academy voters noted to me, “Everyone I talk to thinks the Emmy belongs to Jon this time. It’s well deserved and frankly overdue.”
Why He Can’t Possibly Win: Hamm hasn’t earned one of these things yet, and he’s been nominated for Emmys six times in all (also twice as a guest on 30 Rock). Plus, he’s up against two guys (Hugh Laurie and Michael C. Hall) who also have been nominated multiple times without winning. Either could well pull an upset.
After HBO screened the Martin Scorsese-directed pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire in NYC ahead of this Sunday’s opening show, the pay channel threw a full frills bash that evoked another era. It was the first showbiz party I’ve attended in a long while where somebody spent real money in a time when many premieres seem one step away from a cash bar. Not the case at HBO. Guests marveled how the Rockefeller Center skating rink was transformed into a Prohibition era New Jersey boardwalk. Everyone was breaking the law by drinking at a replica bar that must have been 40 feet long. And I counted three endless steam-table serving stations heaped with lobster tails, king crab legs, steak and other posh nosh. I overhead one guest ask an HBO executive how the pay channel could make such a pricey series and host such a lavish affair to launch it. “28 million subscribers at $10 a month.”
Lionsgate TV is making a return to broadcast TV ‘s primetime this fall with the new Fox comedy series Running Wilde, which it took over at the pilot stage. Now the company is staying active in network development with another broadcast project, 87th Precinct, which has received a script order …
HBO’s Martin Scorsese-Terence Winter Prohibition drama series will debut Sunday, Sept. 19 at 9PM. The cast of the Atlantic City-set series is led by Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt and Kelly Macdonald.