"Vinyl" is the sort of series we expect from HBO -- big, ambitious, sometimes vulgar and always intelligent. Its two-hour opener arrives on Valentine's Day, then repeats almost daily. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
These days, Mick
Jagger and Martin Scorsese don't have to rush anything.
Scorsese got his
first movie raves (for “Mean Streets”) 42 years ago; Jagger had
his first hit single (“Time is On My Side”) 51 years ago. They
have fame and fortune; they can let ideas percolate.
One idea – a film
about the music business – lingered for almost 20 years; now it's
“Vinyl,” on HBO.
“I had an idea
years ago that I took to Marty,” said Jagger, 72. Then “we
developed it and developed it. We wrote scripts; it was a very
That was in 1996,
said writer Terence Winter. He joined the project in 2008, just in
time to see it fade. When “the economy collapsed,” Winter said,
“it was clear that nobody was going to make a three-hour,
40-year-spanning epic period piece in the music business.”
In the interim, new
possibilities had emerged, Jagger said. “TV started to become
Scorsese and Winter
already had such a project with HBO's“Boardwalk Empire.” Now they
had to adapt the music idea for a series. “We needed to take what
was a 40-year story and park it in one particular era,” Winter
said. “Together, we decided that 1973 was the most interesting time
That was when new
sounds – disco, punk, early hip-hop – were emerging and old ones
were fading. Amid drugs and porn, New York also seemed to fade. Three
old hotels collapsed, Winter said ... including an eight-story
building that housed the Mercer Arts Center, a home for theater and
The actual collapse
came in a late afternoon, killing four people, but “Vinyl” gives
it more spectacular time and impact. Then again, this is told by a
fictional music mogul who's not dependable.
“We are starting
with an extremely unreliable narrator who (says) this is his story,
clouded by lost brain cells,” Winter said. That provides “a
creative license to push the bounds of reality.”
But keeping “Vinyl”
fairly close to the truth are:
-- Scorsese, 73, an
expert on music -- “it's constant; it's very much a part of my
life,” he said -- and on New York history.
-- Jagger, who knows
about 1970s music moguls. “We got really (cheated) in the '60s,”
he said. “So I ... got really involved in record companies and how
they worked and who was good, who was bad.”
The series mixes new
songs with ones from the era, but Jagger said he mostly resisted
writing any. An exception was one song by a fictional punk band, the
Nasty Bits; James Jagger, 30, the fourth of his seven children, plays
the lead singer.
Bobby Cannavale has
the raging role of the mogul, desperate to avoid selling his
company. “Every single day for six months, it was exhausting and it
was intense,” he said.
Olivia Wilde plays
his wife, once an Andy Warhol actress and now a suburban mom. “She's
sober,” Wilde said. “She has a family, but she may have left her
identity behind. She's searching for that.”
Then there are his
staffers. A key one is played by Ray Romano, who said he didn't
expect to find himself in a series filled with HBO depth and detail.
“There would be so many scenes where I would look at it and go,
'How am I on this show?”
-- “Vinyl,” 9
p.m. Sundays, HBO, with two-hour opener Feb. 14, rerunning at 11:30
p.m. and 2 a.m.
-- Opener also
reruns at 8 p.m. Monday, 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, 9 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Friday, 11 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 20) and noon and 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb.