Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese ("The Departed") helmed the first episode of HBO's new series "Boardwalk Empire," which debuted Sunday to rave reviews. Matt Roush (TV Guide) thought, "This instantly captivating period piece feels thrillingly modern as it captures with remarkable detail a chaotic time of invention and re-invention, of social progress and prosperity upstaged by the gaudy corruption and jazzy debauchery of the Prohibition era." For Paige Wiser (Chicago Sun-Times), "The characters are unforgettable, and the history, of course, is more entertaining than fiction. The filming of 'Boardwalk Empire' just may be more decadent than the decadence it's celebrating. It's not TV, and it's not really HBO. It's an event, not to be missed." And said Robert Bianco (USA Today), "They've richly re-created a Roaring '20s world on the edge of an ocean and a precipice, and populated it with a riveting rogues gallery."
Scorsese, a five-time Emmy nominee for his work on various cultural programming like "American Masters," is executive producing this Prohibition-era crime drama. "Boardwalk Empire" was created by Terence Winter, who picked up four Emmys for his work on "The Sopranos." That landmark series firmly established HBO as a major player at the Emmy Awards. "The Sopranos" won 21 Emmys from 111 nominations over seven seasons. Winter won two of his six writing nods for the show and shared in the two series wins as well.
"Boardwalk Empire" stars "Sopranos" alum Steve Buscemi as a politico with dirty fingers. The versatile Buscemi earned a 2001 Emmy nod for directing "Pine Barrens" –- the classic third-season episode of "The Sopranos," which Winter co-wrote. Buscemi lost that race to Thomas Schlamme for the two-part season finale of Emmy favorite "The West Wing."
Buscemi went on to contend in the 2004 supporting actor category for his portrayal of Tony Blundetto, cousin to mob boss Tony Soprano. He was bested by Michael Imperioli for his work as the wayward nephew Christopher Moltisanti on "The Sopranos." Last year Buscemi was a guest actor nominee for his appearance on "30 Rock" but lost to fellow rocker Tim Conway.
Others in the cast of "Boulevard Empire" include Oscar nominee Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") as Buscemi's G-man nemesis, Michael Pitt as his second-in-command, and Emmy winner Kelly MacDonald ("The Girl in the Cafe") as his love interest.
Photo:"Boardwalk Empire" poster. Credit: HBO