Friday, 29 March 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1003: Two TV Tidbits


Miramax, under new owners, has decided to get back into television, and they're going to do it with a little help from Martin Scorsese.

They're teaming with Scorsese and GK Films to produce a series adaptation of his movie Gangs of New York. The film itself was loosely based on the Civil War chapters of an "informal history" of New York's underworld by journalist and folklorist Herbert Asbury. 

The series, like the book itself will go beyond the slums of the Five Points Era featured in the movie to centre on the turn of the 20th Century and how street gangs of New York, Chicago, and New Orleans evolved into modern organized crime.

I actually like this idea. The movie could only gloss over the colourful characters, and the high drama, and had to mangle history a fair bit to do it, and, to be honest, I just couldn't accept Leonardo DiCaprio as a street tough. I just kept picturing him screaming "not the face" during every fight scene.

Now by moving the focus to the 1900s they have a whole bunch of new colourful historical characters and their mostly untold stories to the screen. Monk Eastman* alone could probably carry his own TV series.

Also costume dramas sell, and if the production values are good, they could sell for years after the show's initial run because they're hard to date.

So how should they handle this show?

Scorsese already has a show on HBO called Boardwalk Empire, so the temptation is to head straight there again, but I think Scorsese and company need to branch out of the premium pay-tv mini-verse. HBO is good at attracting media attention as the epicentre of TV "cool" but it's capacity to bring in viewers is limited in these hard economic times. 

I'm not saying they should go with a mainstream network. The mainstream broadcast networks lack the imagination and even the reach to sell a gritty historical drama. Plus you will have every nimrod in a suit butting in with their two cents if they don't have the change in their pockets.

Basic cable has been having great success with costume drama series in recent years, and while they can't do the nudity on the level of HBO or Cinemax, they do offer a level of creative freedom you can't find in a mainstream network. Plus, the cachet of getting Scorsese's "brand" associated with their channel will do wonders for maintaining that creative freedom.
*Monk Eastman was one of the most feared hoods in New York City, engaging in every conceivable crime. After a prison stint he found his grip on the streets slipping, so he joined the army. During WWI the middle-aged Monk became a full fledged war hero who couldn't get a medal despite his actions.


Brad Grey, the head of Paramount Pictures is looking to undo one of the company's biggest mistakes by getting back into the crucially lucrative television business.

Now I haven't done this in years, but I'd like to suggest that Brad Grey...

As my brilliantly photoshopped campaign poster says, I won't give away one of the most fundamental functions of any major entertainment company.

The history of TV production is littered with people trying the "best," so why not try the rest... chiefly me.

I also promise to not let my position go to my head. 
So hiring me to a powerful, and highly paid executive position makes a lot of sense, sort of like this picture...

1 comment:

  1. They could do worse, and they probably will.