|Created by||Terence Winter|
|Based on||Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City|
by Nelson Johnson
|Theme music composer||The Brian Jonestown Massacre|
|Opening theme||"Straight Up and Down"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||56 (list of episodes)|
|Production location||New York City|
|Running time||50–73 minutes|
|Original release||September 19, 2010 –|
October 26, 2014
Boardwalk Empireis an American period crime drama television series created by Terence Winter and broadcast on the premium cable channel HBO. The series is set chiefly in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson. Winter, a Primetime Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and producer, created the show, inspired by Nelson Johnson's 2002 non-fiction book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, about the historical criminal kingpin Enoch L. Johnson.
The pilot episode was directed by Martin Scorsese and produced at a cost of $18 million.On September 1, 2009, HBO picked up the series for an additional 11 episodes. The series premiered on September 19, 2010, and its five-season run of 56 episodes ended on October 26, 2014.
Boardwalk Empire received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its visual style and basis on historical figures, as well as for Buscemi's lead performance.The series received 57 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including two for Outstanding Drama Series, winning 20. The series also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama in 2011 and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2011 and 2012.
Boardwalk Empire is a period drama focusing on Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (based on the historical Enoch L. Johnson),a political figure who rises to prominence and controls Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. Nucky interacts with historical characters in both his personal and political life, including mobsters, politicians, government agents, and the common folk who look up to him. The federal government also takes an interest in the bootlegging and other illegal activities in the area, sending agents to investigate possible mob connections as well as Nucky's lifestyle—expensive and lavish for a county political figure. The final season jumps ahead seven years, to 1931, as Prohibition nears its end.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Average viewership|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||12||September 19, 2010||December 5, 2010||3.17|
|2||12||September 25, 2011||December 11, 2011||2.73|
|3||12||September 16, 2012||December 2, 2012||2.32|
|4||12||September 8, 2013||November 24, 2013||2.05|
|5||8||September 7, 2014||October 26, 2014||2.01|
Emmy Award-winner Terence Winter, who served as executive producer and writer on the HBO series The Sopranos , was hired on June 4, 2008 to adapt the non-fiction book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City. '" says creator Terence Winter. "We can't call it 'Boardwalk Empire' and not see a boardwalk." The production would eventually build a 300-foot-long (91 m) boardwalk in an empty lot in Brooklyn, New York, at the cost of $5 million. Despite a reported budget of up to $50 million, the pilot's final budget came in at $18 million.Winter had already been interested in creating a series set in the 1920s, feeling that it had never properly been explored before. For this reason he decided to focus his adaptation of the book section about Prohibition. On September 1, 2009, it was announced that Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese would direct the pilot. It would be the first time he had directed an episode of television since an episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories in 1986. The production would be very ambitious, with some even speculating it would be too large scale for television. "I kept thinking, 'This is pointless. How can we possibly afford a boardwalk, or an empire?
On why he chose to return to television, Scorsese said "What's happening the past nine to 10 years, particularly at HBO, is what we had hoped for in the mid-'60s with films being made for television at first. We'd hoped there would be this kind of freedom and also the ability to create another world and create long-form characters and story. That didn't happen in the 1970s, 1980s and in the 1990s I think. And of course... HBO is a trailblazer in this. I've been tempted over the years to be involved with them because of the nature of long-form and their development of character and plot."He went on to praise HBO by saying, "A number of the episodes, in so many of their series, they're thoughtful, intelligent [and] brilliantly put together... It's a new opportunity for storytelling. It's very different from television of the past."
"Scorsese is an actor magnet," commented Winter. "Everybody wants to work with him. I had all these pictures on my wall and I thought, 'I'd really better write some good stuff for these people.'" In casting the role of Nucky Thompson (based upon real-life Atlantic City political boss Enoch L. Johnson), Winter wanted to stray from the real life Johnson as much as possible. "If we were going to cast accurately what the real Nucky looked like, we'd have cast Jim Gandolfini." The idea of casting Steve Buscemi in the lead role came about when Scorsese mentioned wanting to work with the actor, whom Winter knew well having worked with him on The Sopranos. Winter sent the script out to Buscemi, who responded very enthusiastically. "I just thought, 'Wow. I'm almost sorry I've read this, because if I don't get it, I'm going to be so sad.' My response was 'Terry, I know you're looking at other actors'... and he said, 'No, no, Steve, I said we want you.'" Explained Scorsese, "I love the range he has, his dramatic sense, but also his sense of humor."
The casting of Buscemi was soon followed by Michael Pitt, best known for his roles in films such as Murder by Numbers , The Dreamers , and in the television series Dawson's Creek .He was soon joined by Kelly Macdonald, Vincent Piazza and Michael Shannon, who had just received an Oscar nomination for his role in the Sam Mendes film Revolutionary Road .
Filming for the pilot took place at various locations in and around New York City in June 2009.In creating the visual effects for the series, the company turned to Brooklyn-based effects company Brainstorm Digital. Says Glenn Allen, visual effects producer for Boardwalk Empire and co-founder of Brainstorm, "It's our most complex job to date. Everything is HD now, so we have to treat it like a feature film." "Anytime you get to work on a period piece, it's more fun," comments visual effects artist Chris "Pinkus" Wesselman, who used archival photographs, postcards, and architectural plans to recreate the Atlantic City boardwalks as accurately as possible. "We got to explore what the old Atlantic City was really like. The piers were one of the toughest parts because every summer they would change—new houses, new advertisements." It took two months for the firm to complete all the visual effects for the pilot. Boardwalk Empire began filming on location at Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island in March 2012.
Designed by John Dunn and tailored by Martin Greenfield, Boardwalk Empire's costumes were based on 1920s tailoring books from the Fashion Institute of Technology's research libraries and examples found at the Brooklyn Museum and the Met. The costumes have also been rented from the Daybreak Vintage Company located in Albany, NY which also exhibits at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. Dunn's designs were meticulously detailed, including a collar pin for Nucky's shirts and even going so far as to incorporate specially ordered woolens for suiting. Dunn told Esquire magazine in a September 2010 interview, "With Marty and Terry Winters, I developed the feel for each of the characters. We all wanted it to be very, very accurate and specific to the period.... I don't like to do boring clothing, but you also have to make sure that you're not suddenly putting somebody in something that isn't going to make sense four episodes from now."These tailors were supplied by textile importers HMS fabrics and Gladson ltd.
Martin Scorsese was involved in the filming even before creator Terence Winter. He directed the pilot and established the look of the show, which other directors later emulated for consistency. He is also one of the executive producers of the show. Winter has stated that Scorsese weighed in on the casting decisions and reviewed all of the cuts and dailies. Up until the shooting of the show's first season, Scorsese and Winter would meet every Sunday afternoon to review what went on during the week where Scorsese would have comments and suggestions. Scorsese continued to be creatively involved in the ongoing production, but did not direct any more episodes.
Scorsese and Winter were joined as executive producers by Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Tim Van Patten. Van Patten had been a regular director on The Sopranos and also served as a regular director for Boardwalk Empire. Lawrence Konner was a co-executive producer. Konner also wrote for the show and had previously been a writer on The Sopranos. Howard Korder and Margaret Nagle served as supervising producers and writers for the first season. The crew were recognized with multiple Primetime Emmy Award nominations for their work on the first season.Korder returned as a co-executive producer and writer for the show's second season and as an executive producer in the third season.
The music used for the opening titles is "Straight Up and Down" by The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It was chosen by series creator Winter to create a sense of the "unexpected."
The soundtrack is composed of music from the 1890s to 1920s performed by artists such as Regina Spektor, Leon Redbone, Loudon Wainwright III, Martha Wainwright, Catherine Russell, Nellie McKay, Kathy Brier, and Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks Orchestra. Boardwalk Empire Volume 1: Music from the HBO Original Series , featuring music from seasons 1 and 2, was released on September 13, 2011.
The soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 54th Grammy Awards.
To promote the second season, which started on September 25, 2011, the producers paid the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $150,000 to decorate and operate a New York Transit Museum train of four retired New York City Subway Lo-V cars for each weekend in September 2011. The subway cars used were 5290, 5292 (both built in 1917), 5443, 5483 (both built in 1924). The train operated between noon and 6 p.m. and as an express between 96th Street and Times Square–42nd Street Subway on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line. While the MTA runs "nostalgia trains" each year, this was the first time they had been used for an advertising tie-in.
HBO also sponsored an Atlantic City beautification project with the tag line "Compliments of Nucky Thompson" and paid for eastbound tolls into Atlantic City on the AC Expressway for the weekend of September 24, 2011.
Boardwalk Empire has received critical acclaim. For its first and second seasons, The American Film Institute named Boardwalk Empire one of the ten "best television programs of the year."
On the review aggregator website Metacritic, the first season scored 88 out of 100,and the second season scored 81 out of 100, both indicating "universal acclaim." The third season scored 76 of 100, and the fourth season scored 77 out of 100, both indicating "generally favorable reviews." In the show's fifth and final season, it scored 83 out of 100.
On another review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes, the first season received a rating of 95%. Season two received an 91%, the third season an 89% and the fourth season a 98%, stating "Boardwalk Empire continues to benefit from its meticulously realized period trappings, but what keeps the show watchable is its supremely talented ensemble players".The fifth season of the show holds a rating of 88%, with the site's consensus reading: "The final season of Boardwalk Empire is as visually dazzling and well-acted as ever, but it's the emphasis on Nucky Thompson's history that's particularly rewarding this time out."
David Hinkley of the New York Daily News awarded the series five stars, saying, "Watching HBO's new 'Boardwalk Empire' is like sitting in your favorite tavern and hearing someone say, 'Drinks are on the house.' Friends, it does not get much better." an event not to be missed," and praised Buscemi in particular, calling his performance "fascinating."Paige Wiser of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "...
TV Guide's Matt Roush praised the partnership of Scorsese and Winter, saying it "... brilliantly marries Martin Scorsese's virtuosic cinematic eye to Terence Winter's panoramic mastery of rich character and eventful story," and finished his review by stating, "It's the most purely—and impurely—enjoyable storytelling HBO has delivered in ages, like a movie that you never want to end."
Variety's Brian Lowry praised the show for returning network HBO to top form, saying, "This is, quite simply, television at its finest, occupying a sweet spot that—for all the able competition—still remains unique to HBO: An expensive, explicit, character-driven program, tackling material no broadcast network or movie studio would dare touch ... For those wondering when the channel would deliver another franchise to definitively put it on top of the world, Ma, the wait is over: Go directly to Boardwalk."
"One of the unexpected joys of Boardwalk Empire, though, lies in the way the show revels in the oddities of its time, peeling back the layers of polite society to reveal a giddy shadow world of criminals and politicians collaborating to keep the liquor flowing," says online magazine Salon's Heather Havrilesky, who went on to call the pilot "breathtaking."Roberto Bianco from USA Today said in his review that Boardwalk Empire was "Extravagantly produced, shockingly violent and as cold and hard as ice, Boardwalk Empire brings us back to the world's former playground at the start of Prohibition—and brings HBO back to the forefront of the TV-series race."
The second season received widespread acclaim. Verne Gay from Newsday stated that " Mad Men , of course, remains the King of the Emmys, while Empire nailed the equally prestigious Golden Globe for best drama last winter. But Sunday begins to build the case for Empire, and build it convincingly."Matt Roush of TV Guide stated, "This is a gorgeous piece of storytelling that requires and rewards patience." Brian Lowry stated in his review for Variety that: "A few creative flourishes feel a trifle heavy-handed – starting with Shannon's philandering fed. Unlike Nucky, though, Boardwalk isn't campaigning for anything except the gratitude of a pay-cable audience (and award voters) eager to take refuge in its sordid charms. By that measure, the show doesn't just go down smoothly; it's good to the last illicit, intoxicating drop."
Nancy Franklin of The New Yorker considered Buscemi miscast as the central figure in the drama. "Buscemi can’t play that kind of character; even at the age of fifty-two, he looks cagey and restless—not like a guy at the top but like the guy who gets killed when he tries to knock off the guy at the top." The review concludes "Boardwalk Empire is at great pains to give viewers a sense that they are there, and yet rarely did I feel engrossed in the show. Even if its point is to show you the ugly side of fun, Boardwalk Empire should be much more fun to watch."
Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times review states that "surprisingly, given the extraordinary talent and money behind it, Boardwalk Empire falls short. One possible reason is that the star, Steve Buscemi, is hard to accept in the lead role of Enoch Thompson," going on to observe "it takes a lot of squinting to see him as a powerbroker straddling two worlds."
On July 14, 2011, for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards, Boardwalk Empire was nominated for 18 Primetime Emmy Awards for the first season that included Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Steve Buscemi), and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Kelly Macdonald), with Martin Scorsese winning Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, along with seven other wins at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.Boardwalk Empire won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series and was nominated for Best Dramatic Series. In addition, the show won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama and Steve Buscemi won Best Actor – Television Series Drama, while Kelly Macdonald was nominated for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film. The cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2011 and 2012, while Steve Buscemi won for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series as well in 2011 and 2012, for the first and second season. In 2011, Martin Scorsese won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series for the pilot. Boardwalk Empire was also listed in the American Film Institute's Top Ten List for Television in 2010 and 2011 for the first and second season.
Boardwalk Empire also won two awards at the 9th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards. The first for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program and second for Outstanding Models & Miniatures in a Broadcast Program or Commercial. The former was received by Richard Friedlander (of Brainstorm Digital), Robert Stromberg, Paul Graff and David Taritero; the latter was received by Brendan Fitzgerald, John Corbett and Matthew Conner of Brainstorm Digital.The show's Season One Soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media in 2012.
For the second season, Boardwalk Empire won once again for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Tim Van Patten for the season finale "To the Lost", along with three other wins at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
For the third season, Bobby Cannavale won the show's first acting award at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Gyp Rosetti, along with four other wins at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
On its original airing, the pilot episode gained a 2.0/5 ratings share among adults aged 18–49 and garnered 4.81 million viewers. p.m. and again at 11:30 p.m. Taking these broadcasts into account, a total of 7.1 million Americans viewed the episode on the night of its original broadcast, and is the highest rated premiere for an HBO series since the pilot of Deadwood in March 2004. The season finale was watched by 3.29 million viewers, attaining a 1.3 rating adults aged 18–49.The episode was re-played twice that night, once at 10:15
The second-season premiere was watched by 2.91 million viewers, down 39% from the pilot and down 12% from its first-season finale.
Steven Vincent Buscemi is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and former firefighter. He is known for acting in various supporting roles and as a leading man starring a number of successful movies, including Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992), Robert Rodriguez's Desperado (1995), Simon West's Con Air (1997) and Armageddon (1998), the black comedy Ghost World (2001), Tim Burton's drama Big Fish (2003), and Armando Iannucci's political satire The Death of Stalin (2017). Buscemi is also known for his supporting roles in the Coen brothers films Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996), and The Big Lebowski (1998).
Kelly Macdonald is a Scottish actress best known for her roles in Trainspotting (1996), Gosford Park (2001), Intermission (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), Boardwalk Empire (2010–2014), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011), Brave (2012), the Black Mirror episode "Hated in the Nation" (2016) and Line of Duty, season 6 (2021).
Terence Patrick Winter is an American writer and producer of television and film. He is the creator, writer, and executive producer of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire (2010–14). Before creating Boardwalk Empire, Winter was a writer and executive producer for the HBO television series The Sopranos, from the show's second to sixth and final season (2000–2007).
"Boardwalk Empire" is the pilot episode of the HBO crime drama of the same name. Written by series creator Terence Winter and directed by Martin Scorsese with a budget of $18 million, the episode introduces the character of Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, as the corrupt treasurer of Atlantic City who is involved in gambling and bootlegging in 1920. The show used a large ensemble cast and a specially constructed boardwalk set to re-create the Prohibition and Jazz Era, and was based on Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Filming for the pilot took place at various locations in and around New York City in June 2009. The episode first aired in the United States on September 19, 2010.
Enoch Malachi "Nucky" Thompson is a fictional character and the protagonist of the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire, portrayed by Steve Buscemi. Nucky is loosely based on former Atlantic City, New Jersey political figure Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson.
"The Ivory Tower" is the second episode of the first season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, which originally aired September 26, 2010. The episode was written by series creator and executive producer Terence Winter and directed by executive producer Tim Van Patten.
"Broadway Limited" is the third episode of the first season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, which premiered October 3, 2010. It was written by supervising producer Margaret Nagle and was directed by executive producer Tim Van Patten.
The first season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire premiered on September 19, 2010 and concluded on December 5, 2010, consisting of 12 episodes. The series was created by Terence Winter and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, the series stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. The first season takes place between January and November 1920, beginning with the start of national prohibition and ending with the 1920 presidential election.
The second season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire premiered on September 25, 2011 and concluded on December 11, 2011, consisting of 12 episodes. The series was created by Terence Winter and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, the series stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. The second season takes place between February and August 1921. The second season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on August 28, 2012.
"To the Lost" is the twelfth episode of the second season of HBO television series Boardwalk Empire and the season finale, which premiered on HBO December 11, 2011. The episode was written by series creator Terence Winter and directed by Tim Van Patten, both executive producers.
The third season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire premiered on September 16, 2012 and concluded on December 2, 2012, consisting of 12 episodes. The series was created by Terence Winter and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, the series stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and early 1930s. Taking place 16 months after season two, the third season begins on New Year's Eve 1922 and concludes in June 1923. The third season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on August 20, 2013.
"21" is the first episode of the second season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, which originally aired September 25, 2011. The episode was written by series creator and executive producer Terence Winter and directed by executive producer Tim Van Patten.
The fourth season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire premiered on September 8, 2013, and concluded on November 24, 2013, consisting of 12 episodes. The series was created by Terence Winter and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, the series stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and early 1930s. The fourth season takes place between February 1924 and January 1925. The fourth season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on August 19, 2014.
James Edison Darmody is a fictional character in the television show Boardwalk Empire, played by Michael Pitt. He is one of the main characters in the first two seasons of the series. Unlike most of the other main characters in the series, Jimmy is not based on a historical figure, even though he may be inspired by Atlantic City politician and Nucky Johnson's protégé, James H. "Jimmy" Boyd. Pitt is also the only actor besides Steve Buscemi to appear in every episode for which he is credited.
Margaret Catherine Sheila Thompson is a fictional character in the HBO crime drama series Boardwalk Empire, portrayed by Kelly Macdonald. An Irish immigrant living in 1920s Atlantic City, New Jersey, she is the mistress and eventual wife of Atlantic County treasurer and crime boss Enoch "Nucky" Thompson.
Giuseppe Colombano "Gyp" Rosetti is a character in the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire, portrayed by Bobby Cannavale. Rosetti is a New York City gangster who works for Joe Masseria. Hot-headed and easily offended, he is the primary antagonist of season three.
The fifth and final season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire premiered on September 7, 2014, and concluded on October 26, 2014, consisting of 8 episodes. The series was created by Terence Winter and based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition era, the series stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and early 1930s. The fifth season takes place between April and October 1931, seven years after the previous season, during the Great Depression, with flashbacks to 1884 and 1897 detailing Nucky's childhood and young adulthood. The fifth season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on January 13, 2015.
"Eldorado" is the series finale of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. It is the eighth episode of the fifth season, and the 56th episode of the series overall. The episode was written by series creator Terence Winter and executive producer Howard Korder, and was directed by executive producer Tim Van Patten. It aired on October 26, 2014. It portrays protagonist Nucky Thompson trying to tie up loose ends before retiring from the bootlegging business, as his past comes back to haunt him.
Mieczyslaw "Mickey Doyle" Kuzik is a fictional character in the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire. He is played by Paul Sparks. Mickey Doyle is based on Polish American mobster Mickey Duffy.