Jack Myers' Think Tank: Fans Rise Up in Support of 'Deadwood'
Jim Beaver, who played Ellsworth on "Deadwood" and Vietnam Joe on "John from Cincinnati," writes, "Speaking as one who was there, I can tell you that ... David Milch was infuriated when HBO pulled the plug on 'Deadwood' after promising a fourth season. He spent several weeks attempting to raise outside capital to subsidize the enormous costs of a fourth season. Failing that, he agreed to the compromise of two two-hour movies."
I reached out to HBO executives for a comment, but they have not yet responded, raising hope that new Co-President Richard Plepler may actually be considering a renewed commitment to the series critics hail as one of the best in television history. If you are a fan, now is the time to share your comments.
A poll at the JackMyers.com Web site inviting viewers to weigh in generated extensive support for the return of "Deadwood," with 84% voting for a fourth season, 8% for two movies, and 8% saying "don't bother bringing back 'Deadwood.'" Fans shared heated comments on these pages. Tom Siebert of Initiative Media comments, "What's really going on here is a broken trust between HBO and its viewers. If they don't make the 'Deadwood' movies, AS THEY PROMISED, I'm done with them as a matter of principle. This whole thing is beginning to smell like a PR strategy, where HBO -- caught offguard by viewer outcry -- hastily pledges to make a pair of movies to quell dissent, then s-l-o-w-l-y reneges in stages -- first '50-50,' now we're starting to hear 'unlikely,' then 'never.' Our beloved and brilliantly written characters are stuck forever in narrative limbo, with Al scrubbing blood out of the Gem's floor and Bullock left without his badge after a fixed election. While on conventional networks, I'm willing to grumble but let it go when a show I love gets spiked -- it's the advertisers who are paying for the show, not me, I realize -- the premium channels owe me something more. After all, they're the ones who are claiming, 'It's not TV.'"
Mary Kopco from Deadwood, South Dakota's Adams Museum & House says: "In my humble opinion, 'Deadwood' is one of the greatest dramas ever. The writing, acting, set design, costuming, make-up, hair, etc. is brilliant. To pull the rug out from under the series before it has the opportunity to conclude would be like denying Shakespeare the opportunity to conclude 'Hamlet.' Ever an optimist, I'm hoping that Mr. Milch's 'Deadwood' muse will again speak and that HBO execs will listen. Please." Michael F. Smith of Temple University, adds: "I loved Deadwood'!!!!!!!! I watched nine episodes of 'John from Cincinnati' and tried very hard to get into the program because I loved the actors and I was anticipating another out-of-the-ordinary TV experience. In short, I cannot suffer through another episode of John...... At the very least, please provide us with some semblance of closure with "Deadwood" and hold the onion rings."
Appropriately, Arthur Miller of Miller Media Group argues: "Those C*** Suckers at HBO should bring back 'Deadwood.' It was one of the best F***'in programs around. Plus as you can tell, I miss the language. "
Matthew Dundon of Miller Tabak Roberts Securities believes "Cast isn't a problem. If asked, McShane and Olyphant will be back. It's not like HBO will ask them to work for scale, and whatever discount they might have to take vs. their current quote won't signify. They certainly aren't in the very small club which is immune from the vast mismatch between the number of good actors and the quantity of good work. Below the line costs might be a problem. As posted above, 'Deadwood' is light on resale and repurposing revenue potential, as HBO struggles to justify the financial commitment to originals. They probably think another season of the much cheaper-to-shoot 'The Wire' more than fulfills their duty to lose money in the name of art... "
Rick Petty agrees, "Since everyone associated with this series seems to comment that [it] has been the most fulfilling creative experience of their careers, it would seem that reassembling this killer cast would be doable. I think the fan base has increased substantially since the beginning as evidenced by the fact that I can't get the third year discs I need at Blockbuster. 'Deadwood' is one of a kind and should be revived."
Did they really talk that way back then? The show's "prose and profanity provided for an hour of sometimes shocking but always stimulating entertainment. Each Sunday we met and watched 'Deadwood' (on the TV in the garage away from the kids) and bet on how many times certain 'colorful' words were going to be used before the episode would begin. What a hoot! WE MISS 'DEADWOOD.' BRING AL BACK!", writes Nancy Starzynski from The Star-Ledger.
And Mark Blei of Dynamic Logic adds, "More 'Deadwood'! HBO should have been less price-conscious and more fan-base conscious. Many of us who watched 'Deadwood' religiously felt cheated by the lack of follow through in at the very least concluding such a great drama as 'Deadwood' properly and giving it the sendoff it deserves. I would still like to see the series brought back. But if not keep the promise and send it off right!"
Paul Kopco, who lives in the real Deadwood, S.D., comments, "We who live in the real 'Deadwood' were devastated when HBO canceled the 'Deadwood' series. The worldwide exposure afforded by the show was a tremendous boost to our tourism efforts. David Milch and his production crew relied on the Adams Museum and House, where my wife is the director, for research and historic photographs as resources for story lines, set design, costumes, makeup, and general historical accuracy. Having met a number of the actors when they visited here, and having visited the set and met many crew members in Santa Clarita, CA, I decided to combine familiarity with both the show and the real town to launch a podcast, The Real Deadwood Podcast. It's a variety show for fans of the series combining news, interviews and entertainment from both 'Deadwood's. In addition to audio, there are video clips of the actors' visit and of events in the real 'Deadwood,' as well as a number of photo albums. Episode 13 features interviews with a number of the actors speculating on the real reason for the cancellation of the show."
And Jerry Bryant, also of the Adams House, writes, "When HBO decided to cancel 'Deadwood' I canceled HBO. At the time I knew that all the actors would be paid through the end of Season III. It was a really tough call on my part, because anytime HBO would call for research I would jump. I did minutia research for all three seasons, and for them to pull the carpet out from under 'Deadwood' was just unthinkable. Naturally, when the boxed set became available I purchased it, so I could catch up, so to speak. That may have been my worst mistake, because as I watched season III, I realized how little HBO thought of the art. It is kinda like a pimp and his girls. He loves them till they don't make enough money, or they just get to damned expensive. HBO pimped 'Deadwood' out to all us starving for a real American Frontier drama, and when there was not enough silver to cross their palms, HBO kicked 'Deadwood' out into the gutter. It will take more than 2 movies for them to get my respect, as a matter of fact, a few 'Swearingen' type words come to mind when I think of them. If they start the series again I might subscribe, but very frankly, I don't feel anything beyond 'Deadwood' missing from my life."
If you yearn for the return of the show, add your voice to the growing campaign to bring back "Deadwood."