When HBO said it was developing a pilot with Martin Scorsese, we all sat up and listened intently. Beyond the strains of distant rock’n’roll, however, details were sketchy at best. There is still no known title for the project, but it continues to take shape – now adding Ray Romano to its intriguing mix. The 1970s-set drama will be executive produced by Scorsese, Mick Jagger, George Mastras and Terence Winter – with Scorsese directing, and Winter (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos) penning the script.
We now know the show will focus on music executive Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), following his desperate attempts to discover the ‘next big thing’ in the drug-addled recording industry of 1970s New York City. Olivia Wilde and Juno Temple are already confirmed to co-star, along with Max Casella from Inside Llewyn Davis. The production is aiming for an early summer start.
Romano will play the role of Zak Yankovich – a tough and uncompromising veteran of the music business, well-versed in its mob-infested echelons, and ‘right-hand man’ to Richie Finestra. The character marks a significant departure for the former stand-up comedian, best known for his work on Everybody Loves Raymond and the Ice Age franchise. He has been cutting his dramatic teeth most recently on a recurring part in Parenthood, but this HBO pilot looks like it will take that notable career move to the next level.
The combination of Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter is a powerhouse one – as evidenced by their collaboration on Boardwalk Empire. Add to this Scorsese’s demonstrable passion for music – which he has previously poured into documentaries such as Shine A Light and George Harrison: Living In The Material World – and what we have here is the potential for awesome television. There is no real need for another mob-themed drama on our TV schedules, but this pilot brings with it a fresh, rock’n’roll twist on that old and tired genre. We can look forward to great direction, great writing, and great performances – and, with Mick Jagger as an executive producer, I am patiently awaiting the chance to pre-order what is sure to be an incredible soundtrack.