Black Donnellys May Get Its Own Oscar Bump
The one thing that struck me while watching ABC's interminable Oscars telecast -- besides wondering why someone beautigful as Nicole Kidman feels she has to get plastic surgery -- was that there were a couple of people cheering The Departed's success who weren't in the Kodak Theater that night.
Because, as much as Black Donnelly's creators Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco might hate to admit it, the success of Deaprted's urban-Irish-crime- drama-as-new-school-Sopranos theme can only help this fledgling series jump into a cutthroat TV universe.
"This has nothing to do with that," Moresco said a couple of weeks ago, when I asked him about the parallels between Donnellys, the Departed and another highly produced Irish working class mob drama, Showtime's Brotherhood. "We wrote this a while back – Haggis and I put this together before we did Million Dollar Baby or Crash; (we did it) for another network....We lost our lead actor, so we went onto other things."
After Haggis and Moresco won accolades co-writing Million Dollar Baby and Crash (Haggis also helped with Oscar-nominaed film such as Letters From Iwo Jima), NBC called offering to greenlight the series.
I've already pulled together a column for 2B today with my thoughts on why this production won't work. I'm going out on a limb to predict that Donnellys will get worse ratings than Studio 60, the show it's replacing tonight, and NBC will be forced to return the low-rated Studio 60 in May to limp to season's end.
Moresco was also touchy on the question of how involved Haggis actually was in the development of the Black Donnelleys ("He and I did it together," he said, bluntly). But a look at Haggis' filmography shows he's credited with helping write Clint Eastwood's two critically acclaimed World War II dramas, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, along with work on the kickbutt "reboot" of the James Bond franchise Casino Royale.
So, how much could Haggis help develop this intricate series about four Irish brothers caught between Irish and Italian mobsters in what looks like Hell's Kitchen?
That question aside, Moresco bristles at comparisons to films such as Good Fellas and A Bronx Tale because he doesn't think his show's Irish kids are mobsters, anyways.
“It’s different on this front -- these are not mobsters. These are kids who were groomed by a guy who was a union organizer. He taught them good values, to be people who stood up for their neighbors, stood up for things that are right. Unfortunately, the father died and that memory gets twisted and perverted. That's the battle.”
See for yourself, by peeping a sneak preview of tonight's episode here.
What do you think? Does an Irish crime story have a better chance than a backstage look at a late night comedy show?