There is a major behind-the-scenes shakeup at HBO’s 1970s rock n roll drama Vinyl as the series heads into its second season. Co-creator, executive producer and showrunner Terence Winter has been let go over creative differences. Feature writer Scott Z. Burns (The Borne Ultimatum) has been named executive producer/showrunner and Max Borenstein (Godzilla) executive producer on the project, which is executive produced by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese. Burns has no TV credits, while Borenstein developed and executive produced Fox’s Minority Report series adaptation.
While Vinyl has been a modest ratings performer, the move is surprising as HBO has been Emmy winner Winter’s TV home for more than two decades. He emerged as one of the pay cable network’s top writer-producers, first on The Sopranos, where he rose to executive producer, then on Boardwalk Empire, which he created and ran for its entire span, working alongside Scorsese, and then on Vinyl, another collaboration with Scorsese. (The two also collaborated on The Wolf of Wall Street, which earned both Oscar nominations).
“As we head into the second season of Vinyl, we have decided it is an appropriate time to make a change in the creative direction of the show,” HBO said in a statement to Deadline. “We have enjoyed a longtime partnership with Terry Winter at HBO on projects from The Sopranos to Boardwalk Empire to Vinyl, and we look forward to our next collaboration with him. We are pleased to welcome Scott Z. Burns, executive producer and showrunner, and Max Borenstein, executive producer, as the new team helming the show.
Vinyl had a 20-year development history, with Scorsese and Jagger originally attempting to do it as a movie. When it was set up at HBO in 2010, Winter was brought in as a writer/executive producer. Originally he was not going to be showrunner because he was busy working on Boardwalk Empire but as development took awhile, the Vinyl team eventually waited for him to wrap Boardwalk Empire and segue straight to Vinyl.
The big-budget period drama has drawn soft ratings for its first season, which wraps its run on April 14, with viewership between 760,000 and 570,000 for a premiere airing, but it has been will received by critics and netted a second-season pickup. The writers are scheduled to convene to work on Season 2 this month. Here is what Winter envisioned for next season in an interview with Deadline conducted ahead of the series premiere.
“The series will progress in time like Boardwalk did. So, we’ll probably move forward into 1974 when we come back; ’74 was the year that CBGB’s opened, it was the year that The Ramones kind of formed. The Vietnam War was officially over so you had a lot of guys coming back from that too.
In terms of Richie’s (Bobby Cannavale ) story, without spoiling what happens at the end of the season, he’s still alive and moving forward, he’s really on a quest to make good his desire to find something new and do something that makes an impact in this business. When we meet him in the pilot, he’s so anesthetized to music, he doesn’t even go to clubs anymore. But then that electricity he feels at the Dolls show and the way he comes out of that pilot is the thing that fuels him for the rest of the series.”
HBO has been shaking things up on the drama side, with head of drama Michael Ellenberg recently exiting. With Leftovers heading into a final season, the network only has Vinyl and the upcoming series Westworld, which recently returned from a production hiatus, and David Simon’s The Deuce in drama besides mega hit Game of Thrones.
Vinyl opened its ten-episode first season Feb. 14 with a two-hour pilot directed by Scorsese, from a teleplay by Winter and George Mastras, and story by Rich Cohen & Jagger & Scorsese and Winter. Bobby Cannavale stars as Richie Finestra, a record label president who is trying to save his company and his soul without destroying everyone in his path. Co-starring are Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, Ato Essandoh, Max Casella, P.J. Byrne, J.C. MacKenzie, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Juno Temple, Jack Quaid, James Jagger and Paul Ben-Victor.