The roots of HBO’s Vinyl goes all the way back to 1996 as a potential feature film in what was a marriage between both Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s mutual appreciation of each other. For Scorsese, The Rolling Stones was the “inspiration for all the scenes in my films from Mean Streets to Raging Bull to even The Wolf of Wall Street. Even though I didn’t see the Rolling Stones perform until 1970, their songs were everything I imagined in my head,” said the Oscar-winning director via satellite at TCA this evening.
“He was the first film director to use rock n’ roll in movies from wall to wall. Other directors used it occasionally, but no really like he did,” added Jagger also by satellite.
Then in 2008, Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire EP Terry Winter, who had been collaborating with Scorsese on the latter show, was approached to hammer out a script. “By 2009, the economy crashed, and it was clear no one was going to make a three-hour period epic about the music industry,” said Winter.
This put the team back to square one with Winter condensing the story down to its most pivotal year: 1973. By 2011, Winter finished writing the pilot with production beginning soon after Boardwalk Empire‘s end. Vinyl tells the story of drug-addled record executive Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) who is trying to save his record company, without destroying everyone in his path.
“Richie is an extremely unreliable narrator. His story is clouded by the loss of brain cells and bullshit. Right out of the gate, you’re in the hands of someone who doesn’t remember things as they happen,” adds Winter who is also serving as EP.
“It’s not a conventional narrative. It’s like a piece of music, but it’s like Richie is hearing his own soundtrack. What he hears, whether he wants to hear it or not. It’s cinematic in that respect,” said Scorsese who is also an EP with Jagger on Vinyl.
Similar to Boardwalk Empire–which he won a directing Emmy for–Scorsese is helming again here for Vinyl. During Boardwalk, Scorsese was known to read every script and provide precision-bomb notes to Winter and EP Tim Van Patten. Scorsese explained today that he’s even more hands on with Vinyl. “I’m in all stages of production, selecting directors, working in the tonal meetings and, of course, selecting the music. When I first started using recorded music it was in Mean Streets, and this project is something natural and close to my heart. I’m going to continue to be involved as much as possible in all episodes and I hope that I can out time to direct a few more shows,” said Scorsese.
While audiences have already seen the massive range of Bobby Cannavale from loveable lug Vincent D’Angelo on Will & Grace to his Emmy-winning turn as acerbic gangster Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire, Vinyl shows yet even more dramatic–scratch that, edgy– layers post Parenthood for comedic actor Ray Romano as a fellow record exec to Finesra.
Warns Romano, “People who know me from Everybody Loves Raymond should avoid episode 7 because I’m naked in it…it’s different from what they remember me for.”
“They’re not paying me,” further quipped Romano. “But if there’s one thing about HBO they put their money into everything,” said Romano referring to how Vinyl perfectly recreates the littered 1973 Manhattan.
“It’s probably the most expensive garbage you’ve ever seen on screen,” added Bobby Cannavale.