Thursday, May 25, 2006

Have Gun--Will Beg

[[T U B E]] * After NBC-TV’s cancellation of The West Wing, nothing could have been more disappointing than to hear that HBO had chosen not to renew the wonderfully gritty western series Deadwood for a fourth season. And this, just as the second-season DVD was being released. The story went that HBO was letting Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, Powers Boothe, and the rest of the cast explore other career options after the series’ third season, which begins on June 11, ends later this summer. Meanwhile, the show’s creator, ex-NYPD Blue honcho David Milch, was going off to work on John from Cincinnati, a surfer drama, also for HBO.

But now comes word that Deadwood--which blends Shakespearean flights of dialogue with prodigious profanity, and portrays one of the American West’s most lawless mining camps in all its greedy, lethal, and sometimes heart-rending glory--might not be headed for Boot Hill, after all. It’s a long shot, but Milch tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s hoping to hit up deep-pocketed private sources for cash necessary to keep Deadwood on the air. At least for another season, which is apparently all Milch had in mind when he started the show. The Inquirer explains that a season of this lush 1870s drama runs 12 episodes, with each episode costing something “north of $5 million.”
“I’m doing what I can,” Milch says. “Any financial participation could take the pressure off. HBO hasn’t said no. ... If I were a gambling guy, which I am, I’d say odds are less than even money.”

Milch says he’s looking into possible tie-ins with casinos and theme parks as well as with the
actual community of Deadwood, S.D. Imaginative marketing, he calls it.
He adds that “The actors were as shocked as I was” that there wouldn’t be a fourth season, especially after HBO seemed prepared to approve a series extension even before season three debuted. But apparently, the audience numbers for Deadwood just haven’t grown fast enough to satisfy the Time Warner-owned HBO and its demanding advertisers. (“Cocksuckers!” as almost any character on Milch’s series might complain.)

Does anybody out there have $60 million to spare?

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