Sunday, April 4, 2010

Boardwalk Empire

Happy Easter! Perfect time to talk about gangsters, right?

That's HBO's second preview of Boardwalk Empire, a series they're releasing this fall that's based on prohibition era Atlantic City. It stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Johnson, the top boss in town during that era who enjoyed all the splendors that racketeering in a town of booze, brothels and gambling.

The series (which is helmed by Martin Scorsese - yes, THAT Martin Scorsese) started as a book: Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson, a judge of New Jersey Superior Court.

It was published in 2002, back when I first dipped my toe into freelance writing. One of my first pieces was about Plexus Publishing, a small publisher tucked into New Jersey's pine barrens. What book had they just published? Boardwalk Empire.

I finished reading it last night (and had plenty of nightmares about gangsters on Saturday night - yes, really). While the HBO series is about prohibition, the book is a longer look at Atlantic City, right up until 2002. Things have obviously changed since 2002 for AC, but it's still a good overarching view of the town and its colorful past.

I'm interviewing Johnson this week for a feature I'm writing on Atlantic City. Should be an interesting chat.

The series was not filmed on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, by the way. It's changed too much to play a 90-years-younger version of itself.

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