Haggis and Moresco talk Black Donnellys

This Monday, NBC sent Studio 60 to bed without dessert and settled down for an evening with The Black Donnellys. The series, set in a fictional New York neighborhood, follows four Irish brothers who become quickly and unwittingly embroiled in Mafia life. Like The Sopranos after a corned beef dinner and a gallon of Bailey's, this new drama walks the line between tough and tired--but if it manages to find its footing, look out.

In a conference call held earlier this week, series creators and executive producers Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco took time to shed light on the show. Moresco insists the pair of Oscar winners "never thought twice" about returning to the small screen, especially when given the chance to tackle a project they've been keeping on hold for the past 10 years.

Fans of the short-lived '90s drama EZ Streets, which was also penned by the duo, will find many similarities between the two series--and rightly so, according to Haggis. "This is a follow-up to EZ Streets," he said, "and it was something we tried to do with CBS over the years, and it just wasn't a fit for them." When asked what lessons were taken from the failure of EZ Streets, Haggis admitted he "[doesn't] think we learned a damn thing."

"You know, at the time, we were told, 'Don't you guys get it? No one wants to see a continuing story over 24 episodes...and now, people say, 'Don't you get it? The only thing people want is that this is for 24 episodes.' So we didn't learn a damn thing, we just did the show exactly as we would have done it then."

"I guess it's a huge mistake and a fallacy to think that you should approach writing for television differently than you might approach writing for the screen," Moresco said when asked to compare their work in television and film. "You approach it with the same amount of craft, the same amount of intensity, and the same amount of need for character and plot and story. Form may change a bit, but if anything else changes it's a big mistake."

This philosophy comes through in the intensity and surprising violence of The Black Donnellys, which is decidedly bloodier than many shows found on broadcast television.

"It's obviously always a challenge with the language," said Haggis, "but that was basically it. We got to tell all the emotional truth--I was worried about that, I've got to tell you, because I never thought that we would be introducing this on network television. They really gave us a lot of freedom, and we tried to be responsible with that."

"We used a lot of curse words, too, and they let us get away with that. It was things that a 10 o'clock audience would say, you know, 'Maybe this is pushing the boundaries, but it's nothing we haven't heard before.'"

"I want to make it clear that this is not a biography," said Moresco, who grew up in Hell's Kitchen, but he does admit taking some inspiration from his childhood. "I was one of those guys who were out in the streets. I had five brothers growing up...and I spent a lot of my life trying to understand how people that you love and respect and honor can do monstrous things and become monsters, but then be the people that you thought you loved, and that's a strange dichotomy to try to get hold of."

If you missed The Black Donnellys' premiere, visit NBC.com to watch the entire episode--then mark your calendars for Mondays at 10 p.m.!

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The failure of the series to reach a wide audience was one reason programmer Kevin Reilly was replaced at NBC by Ben Silverman, an executive who'll NEVER give Paul Haggis a chance to produce another series like "THE BLACK DONNELLYS" ever again.
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loved itt... really really really good, especially for a pilot episode, there was so much going on ..nd they filmed some of it on my friends blockk during the summer! thats part of the reason i watched itt, but i really liked it =]
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One of the best pilots I've seen in a long time. Can't wait to see where they're going with the show.
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I am a little bit lost. Definetly something that you have to watch to keep up with it. Loved the characters though.
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The show was so good and I'm pumped for next week. Prison Break, Heroes, and The Black Donnellys.. Monday night is definitly the best night of tv. NBC is replaying the pilot on Thursday if you missed it.
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I was not very impressed with the pilot. I am hoping that next weeks episode can draw me in more.
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Studio 60 is "on hiatus." It's not cancelled (yet), but I don't think the outlook is very good.
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I missed though that is proberly do to I was watching CSI Miami.
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It's pretty ballsy for network TV. I'm not sure what a mainstream television audience will think of watching a show where the lead characters willingly inflict violence and murder upon their rivals, but I realy enjoy it. If the aduience can grow and the FCC doesn't get their panties in a bunch, I could turn out to be a hit. I hope it does. I found the pilot far more impressive than any Studio 60 episodes i saw.
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telvisnostic you can download the pilot for free on itunes
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LOOOVED the pilot. Great thing it comes right after Hero's. My 2 favorite shows right after another! (yah!!!!!)
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Does that mean Studio 60 is cancelled?? Nooo!
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The pilot was great, good work!!!
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I'll see the pilot soon, I'm curious about this show and I loved Haggis' Crash
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I only watched this show for Olivia....but I was really impressed. I'll keep watching.
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I'm so angry I missed this show last night.
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