Podcast: Wise Guy From Brooklyn Delivers Big With Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire creator and showrunner Terence ("Terry") Winter started his hustle with some letterhead, a phone line, and stark determination. Years later, and after a writer-producer gig on The Sopranos, his Boardwalk Empire is racking up big ratings for HBO and big awards for the cast and crew.
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Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire

Show creator Terence ("Terry") Winter was happy when actor Steve Buscemi signed on to play Nucky in his HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. Theys both from Brooklyn. And theys both know how to hustle (Nucky when in character and Winter when it comes to his Hollywood career). The writer, known for his work on The Sopranos, Brooklyn Rules, and Get Rich or Die Tryin', came out to Hollywood without knowing a soul. He quickly learned, as anyone with street smarts from one a da boroughs, that in order to make it in this town, you gotta do what it takes to get noticed.

So, Winter decided the only way he could get anyone to read his material was to create his own agency. With the support of a lawyer friend back East, Winter printed up his own letterhead, set up a phone line, and started cold calling production companies on his own behalf. As soon as he got a few bites, he put on his courier cap and messengered over his own scripts. The writing was good. And, before long, his agent -- er himself -- was getting him meetings all over town.

Several years later, he's found himself running a show with the same kind of characters he knew growing up. "I spent a fair amount of time in my twenties going down to Atlantic City," he says. Script sat down with writer and producer Terry Winter to find out how he's making his own rules on the set of Season 2 of the award-winning Boardwalk Empire.

Podcast highlights include:

  • On writing: "Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to push that button on the computer screen."
  • Biggest show challenge: "To present the exposition [of the time period] in an entertaining way."
  • On taking notes: "I'm open to anything. If someone says, 'I didn't quite get that,' that's a note I take really seriously."

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