This month, Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s new dramatic series about politically corrupt Prohibition-era Atlantic City, debuts. The show – produced by Martin Scorsese, scripted by Sopranos writer Terence Winter – is based on a book of the same name by New Jersey Superior Court judge Nelson Johnson, who’s way more modest than we’d be.
What made you want to tell this story? I represented the planning board back in the ’80s when the Taj Mahal casino was getting approved. I kept saying, “How’d this place get so screwed up?” I wanted to make sense of this town, and became worried that the history was going to get forgotten. It really was a pretty special place before the casino era.
Steve Buscemi plays the lead, ruthless political gangster Nucky -Johnson – or Nucky Thompson, on the show. Good casting? Nucky was a corrupt gangster who rubbed elbows with the Mafia and a corrupt politician who rubbed elbows with the big leagues. Buscemi has the moxie for it.
Plus there’s Scorsese, Winter and HBO. It’s flop-proof. That’s for other people to worry about. For me, I’m living the dream. I have tremendous respect for all involved.
What’s worse, A.C. corruption then or A.C. corruption now? That’s easy. The corruption back then was organized. The corruption today is not.