By NELLIE ANDREEVA Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 10:23am PDT
EXCLUSIVE: There are few relationships between a network and creator that have been as enduring as the one between David Milch and HBO. Now it has been extended with a new overall deal, which will keep Milch exclusive to HBO in television for two more years, bringing his tenure at the pay cable network to 14 years. Milch has been at HBO since 2002, when he embarked on developing his first project there, cult drama Deadwood, and under an overall deal since 2005. The relationship has yielded five pilots, three of which — Deadwood, John From Cincinnati and Luck – went to series. Milch’s most recent project at HBO was drama pilot The Money, about hbo45__130924185923-275x112wealth and corruption among the super elite, which focused on an American mogul and patriarch (Brendan Gleeson) who wields power and influence to expand his media empire and control his family. HBO opted not to go forward with the pilot, co-starring Nathan Lane and featuring Ray Liotta and John Carroll Lynch, but the network remains very much in the David Milch business. He has other projects in the works, including a feature-length adaptation of a William Faulkner novel.
At this weekend’s inaugural Vulture Festival, David Milch sat in conversation with our TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz. Over the 90-minute discussion, Milch talked about his Emmy-winning work on Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue as well as his years as showrunner on HBO’s Deadwood. Milch also discussed at length, for the first time, a new dramatic work he is writing for HBO — “I’m working on a bunch of shows … But this one that I’ve brought a sample of is about Boss Tweed, who was a political figure in the late 19th century, ran Tammany Hall here in New York City, and was a thief of prodigious dimension. He was also very fat.” Milch then read a chunk of script, starting with a very Milchian moment of Tweed in jail, writing a letter:
“I’m an old man, broken in health and cast down in spirit. As to the charges standing against me, through unpublished statements, I’ve received some assurance that the vindication of principle and purifying of the public service are purposes you would have me serve. Recognizing further resistance as a futility, offering unqualified surrender and supplicating mercy, I herewith submit my testimony.”
David Milch eyes 19th-century New York politics for new series
by Alexandra Richmond on May 13, 2014 at 10:45 am
Here’s a reason to go to an arts festival: To hear David Milch read from his new script about Boss Tweed, the “boss” of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that helped “fix” things for certain people in city and state politics in the 19th century.
David Milch, creator of Deadwood and one of the smartest and most creative people creating television today or ever, blew people’s minds at Vulture Fest when he brought out pages to read, during an on-stage interview with Matt Zoller Seitz. He called Tweed “a thief of prodigious dimension. He was also very fat.”
Milch then read a chunk of script, starting with a very Milchian moment of Tweed in jail, writing a letter:
“I’m an old man, broken in health and cast down in spirit. As to the charges standing against me, through unpublished statements, I’ve received some assurance that the vindication of principle and purifying of the public service are purposes you would have me serve. Recognizing further resistance as a futility, offering unqualified surrender and supplicating mercy, I herewith submit my testimony.
I am herewith on the edge of my seat.
Milch rarely gives interviews, but is known for his no-bullshit frankness. Back in 2007 at the New Yorker fest, Vulture wondered if Milch was the best or worst dinner party guest ever as he pointed out “the fallacy of the dichotomy between cable and network (basically, everyone’s selling something: on network, it’s soap in the commercials, on HBO, it’s upper-middle class values, “the same bullshit The New Yorker‘s selling”); the reason Jews are overrepresented in Hollywood (he asked the panel who there was Jewish; four out of five — including Milch — raised their hands, with Moore the odd man out) and how the “seeming doubleness” of Jewish life makes Jews perfect for the entertainment biz; the inadequacies of HBO in general, including a classic jerk-off hand motion — which is weird, since the channel aired (and, yes, killed) Deadwood and the indecipherable John From Cincinnati; and the David Milch mystique. “When they buy me, they know what they’re buying,” he said. “‘Oh, David Milch, he’s nuts.’ And that’s what I’m selling.” He also slagged the clip they’d shown from Weeds, basically dismissed House, and slammed the petit bourgeois sensibilities of, yes, The New Yorker.”
Milch said all that while at the New Yorker Fest. Which is the only reason to go to a fest: to hear your hero tear the world apart.
Vulture Festival Video:Writer David Milch Talks Deadwood, Boss Tweed
Our inaugural Vulture Festival kicked off with an interview that contained more than a few surprises. Our TV critic, Matt Zoller Seitz, interviewed one of modern television’s most towering talents: David Milch. Over the course of a literate and engaging conversation, Milch revealed behind-the-scenes secrets about his most famous project, Deadwood, discussed his days as a fraternity brother to George W. Bush, and capped it all off with an exclusive reading of script pages from his as-yet-unproduced series about legendarily corrupt NYC mayor Boss Tweed.
THAT IS NOT ABOUT HBO, BUT THE FORMER MILITARY CHANEL, NOW ‘AMERICAN HEROES’. IF YOU HAVE IT IN YOUR CABLE LINEUP, READ THE NEWS BELOW. American Heroes Channel Announces Six-Part Docudrama Series ‘Gunslingers’ (Exclusive)
Kurt Russell and “Deadwood” creator David Milch provide commentary on the Old West-centric series, premiering July 20.
6/17/2014 by Ryan Gajewski
American Heroes Channel is saddling up for the new six-part docudrama series Gunslingers, providing the real story of the Old West’s most infamous icons.
Following the success of such recent TV oaters as History’s 2012 Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, Gunslingers incorporates reenactments with factual commentary. Each episode will highlight a different legendary figure, including Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickok.
The premiere episode, airing Sunday, July 20, is entitled “Wyatt Earp: The Tombstone Vendetta.” The episode features commentary from actor Kurt Russell, who played Earp in the 1993 film Tombstone. Subsequent episodes include commentary from Deadwood creator David Milch and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford author Ron Hansen.
“Gunslingers captures all the edge-of-your-seat drama of a classic Hollywood Western, but layers in all of the true facts from these legends that echo throughout history,” said Kevin Bennett, general manager of American Heroes Channel.
Among the actors who will reenact scenes include All My Children veteran Walt Willey, who portrays Wild Bill. The series is executive produced by Chris Cassel.
“American Heroes Channel is proud to bring viewers a very different style of documentary series—told from the unique P.O.V. of the icons themselves—to bring new life to the timeless frontier sagas that continue to captivate audiences,” Bennett added.
Vulture TV Awards: The Year’s Best Villain Is Breaking Bad’s Walter White
By David Milch
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in all of television’s kingdoms more heinous than Joffrey Baratheon. Or more devilish than Frank Underwood. Or more politely chilling than the eponymous Hannibal. For these characters, villainy is as much a vocation as avocation: Joffrey is a teenage tyrant; Frank is a scheming politician; and Dr. Lecter a sinister shrink. When villainy is a job requirement, why not delight in it?
But there is nothing inherently villainous about your mild-mannered chemistry teacher — the one who took a medical leave when he developed lung cancer. He’s so nice, after all, and his family is so sweet. He’s just like you and me, and we’re not so bad. Are we? Walter White’s transformation into the monster Heisenberg is compelling because he does bad things for good reasons. We might even do the same, if pushed far enough. We see a little of ourselves in him, and that’s precisely why we should fear him most.
In the final season of Breaking Bad, Walter has completed that transformation and quit the business of blue meth. He’s already shot, stabbed, poisoned, and bombed anyone who threatened his burgeoning empire. He’s made more money than his family could ever need.
But with Hank and Jesse finally at odds with him, he still has things left to do. Though he doesn’t wear the porkpie hat, he uses the different facets of his persona to manipulate those closest to him. He’s Mr. White, the genteel teacher, when he has to convince Jesse to change his identity for everyone’s protection. He’s the helpless cancer victim and loving patriarch when Hank finally realizes the truth about his brother-in-law. His time is running out, Walter promises, and a pointless prosecution for a dying man will only harm his family. When those approaches fail, Walt is the brutal drug lord who plots to kill Jesse, implicates Hank in his own crimes, and leaves his wife bloodied and sobbing in front of their home after kidnapping their infant daughter. He turns his family against itself. In doing so, he reshapes the world around him so that everyone breaks bad.
Marie, never the bastion of sanity, Googles untraceable poisons when Walt doesn’t follow her recommendation of suicide. Skyler eschews her own husband’s moral standards and tries to convince Walt to finally murder Jesse. Even Walter’s other protégé, Todd, is merely an extension of him. He adopted the brutality of his Uncle Jack and the Opie attitude of “Mr. White.” When Todd and the Aryans leave Hank in a desert grave, torture Jesse, and murder Andrea, who is only guilty of unwittingly playing the pawn, it’s not in spite of Walter, but because of him.
And then, in the wake of fleeing Albuquerque, Walter refuses the opportunity to save Skyler by surrendering to the police, claiming that he wants to ensure his family receives the remainder of his money. In reality, he can’t accept that his empire has perished.
When Walter finally admits that he did it all — the meth, the money, the murders — because he liked it, because it made him feel alive, that vanity motivated him more than charity, it reflects how our own ostensible altruism is often just the lie we tell ourselves to excuse our dirtiest deeds.
He does attempt redemption. He comes out of hiding to ensure Skyler isn’t punished for his crimes. He kills the Aryans and rescues Jesse. He succeeds at providing Walt Jr. with roughly $9 million. But he achieves these small acts of contrition through violence, or at least the promise of it. He’s already doomed, and he shows how far each of us can fall.
Was Walter White the best villain on television this year? You’re goddamn right.
David Milch has thrown some typewriters out the window in his writing career.
“The guys at St. Elsewhere used to take half an hour off between 2:30 and 3. They were on the floor below us [the Hill Street Blues writers at NBC],” he told Carlton Cuse, showrunner of A&E’s Bates Motel and FX’s The Strain, in conversation at The Hollywood Reporter’s Power Showrunners luncheon on Wednesday. “They’d see if a typewriter had come down, and then they’d go back to work.”
It’s not the only quirk of his writing process, the prolific writer and creator told showrunners in attendance, including Matthew Weiner (AMC’s Mad Men), Howard Gordon (Showtime’s Homeland, FX’s Tyrant), Jason Katims (NBC’s Parenthood and About A Boy) and Noah Hawley (FX’s Fargo). He produces material dictating — “It allows you to stay in the moment a little bit more” — while lying down. As for actually typing? “No, I’ve never done that,” he said.
But it’s a well-functioning method for Milch. In the 30-plus years since he began penning scripts for Hill Street Blues, his career credits include co-creating ABC’s NYPD Blue and creating HBO’s Deadwood, and he’s won four Emmys. Here are the highlights of his conversation with Cuse at THR’s luncheon:
Why he writes for television: Milch studied literature at Yale under poet, novelist and critic Robert Penn Warren. Then he went to law school, from which he was expelled. “I was falsely accused of shooting the lights out of a police car. I don’t know how they got the idea it was I and not someone else,” he told Cuse. “That was it for my law career, and then I went to the Writers’ Workshop in Iowa.”
Why not write poetry or fiction afterward? “You want to be heard, and it was my sense that [television] was a medium, in which one could be heard,” he said. “I also need to be working hard all the time.” He argued he wasn’t suited for the experience of a feature writer, which includes “interludes in which you’re not occupied.” Said Milch: “I tend to wind up in jail.”
Where Deadwood started: “Deadwood was a show set in Rome at the time of St. Paul. I worked on it for about eight months, and then it turned out they were doing a show about Rome [HBO’s Rome]. For me, what engaged my imagination was the idea of an organizing principle that shaped an entire society. In the case of Rome in the time of St. Paul, it was the idea of the cross. It was revolutionizing the way people lived, and when it turned out there was a show about Rome, I decided to use gold as the organizing principle instead of the cross and set it on the frontier. It wasn’t that much of a—well, I guess on one level it was a pretty big change,” he said.
He later elaborated, “I think that to a large extent, what we’re looking for as we live is something that will suppress our ego like that, that will make us feel part of something larger than ourselves.”
“The best pimp in the world is the one that doesn’t need the pussy”: Cuse credited the line to Milch, then asked him to elaborate. “It’s like that ego suppression thing. If you need the pussy, you’re a trick. If you don’t, you could be a cab driver, but you could also be a pimp,” Milch said, adding, “Forgive my language.”
On visiting sets: “I think it’s disrespectful to go onto a set without some clear idea of what your intentions are, because then you’re hanging the director out to dry. My process is very disempowering to the director anyway, so it’s essential that you be respectful. Once we’ve sort of found the scene, I have to get out of there, because you don’t want to split the actor’s idea of who’s in charge.”
His next script:Cuse said he’d just read Milch’s latest pilot, which the writer finished just days ago. It’s entitled Big City, and it centers on William “Boss” Tweed, the head of the Tammany Hall political machine that controlled 19th-century New York City politics. The pilot is populated with historical figures, including tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and women’s rights reformer Susan B. Anthony, Cuse said. “I read the script thinking, ‘Oh my god, this show is absolutely the next great thing from you’,” he added.
Said Milch: “I’m no rose. I have been around a while, and you never know when something is going to be the last thing you do. You want to harbor your resources and try not to make a mistake.” So why Tweed? “This guy, in addition to being a crook, had the gift of society. There was nobody, even the people he put in jail, who didn’t have great affection for William Tweed.”
The book he reads over and over: Milch said he rereads the poetry and literary criticism of his late mentor Warren. Then he recited a poem of Warren’s, “Moral Assessment,” from memory, to applause from the crowd in the room.
President Obama vacations there, while Carly Simon presides over a sprawling compound and Meg Ryan owns a rustically luxurious barn-like home. Yes, children, it’s blissfully removed and drop-dead gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard. Other high-profile homeowners on the historic island, just off the southern coast of Cape Cod, include (but are not limited to) Spike Lee, David Letterman, Ted Danson and longtime television writer and producer David Milch, who has his compound near the island’s port community of Vineyard Haven up for grabs on the open market with an asking price of $8,950,000.
The four-time Emmy-winning police-procedural patriarch — among other professional achievements, he wrote for “Hill Street Blues” before he created, with Steven Bochco, the much-decorated and long-running “NYPD Blue” — stands to double his dough on the sale of the estate. Property records show Milch and his wife, Rita, purchased the almost painfully picturesque, 22-acre waterside spread in early 1996 for $4 million.
A wheel-rutted dirt drive passes a tree-ringed tennis court as it winds deep into the densely treed multi-residence property that contains, per listing details, a total of eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms. Hand-stacked stone walls and mature perennial gardens divide the circular drive and parking area from the shingled, Cape Cod-style main house that was originally built in 1880, and reworked in the 1970s to include an architecturally decadent, double-height glass wall in the main living area with long, northwestern sunset views.
In addition to the rambling and roughly 5,500-square foot main house, the grounds include a secluded writer’s studio, a spacious, separate and self-contained guesthouse charmingly dubbed the Barn, and a two-story beach cottage set on the edge of the shallow pond that separates the bulk of the compound from the property’s 300 feet of pristine sandy shore.
The listing is represented by Judy Federowicz of Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate who told this property gossip that with their children grown they don’t use the compound as much as in the past and it’s time to pass the compound to another family.
Deadwood Creator David Milch Has Lost $100 Million to a Gambling Addiction By Jackson McHenry
David Milch, the man behind groundbreaking television series like Deadwood and NYPD Blue, earned $100 million across his decades-long career in Hollywood, but, according to The Hollywood Reporter, nearly all of it has been consumed by bets at the racetrack. According to one lawsuit, Milch lost $25 million between 2000 and 2011 due to gambling alone. The lawsuit also reveals that he is now $17 million in debt. “He’s in debt to the IRS,” a friend said. “He’s doing what he can, but it’s hard for him and everyone close to him.” Milch is currently on a $40 a week allowance from his wife, Rita.
Milch, who started off as a writer for Hill Street Blues before creating the boundary-pushing NYPD Blue and, later, the critically beloved Deadwood, has not worked on a show since 2012, when the horse-racing drama Luck was canceled (his other effort, the surfer mystery John From Cincinnati, was canceled after its first ten episodes in 2007). Milch currently maintains an exclusive deal with HBO that is in talks to be renewed. He is working on an adaptation of Peter Matthiessen’s novel Shadow Country, which is set to star Jeff Bridges, and developing a movie version of Deadwood. Rita Milch has filed a legal complaint against their business managers for not informing her of the full extent of her husband’s losses. She is seeking $25 million in damages.