Pulse: Chatter: Meet the Man Who Made A.C. Cool Again

New Jersey Superior Court judge and author of Boardwalk Empire Nelson Johnson talks about the new HBO drama.

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.