By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: A high-profile TV series project from Miramax Television based on Herbert Asbury’s 1927 non-fiction book The Gangs of New York is about to hit the premium/streaming marketplace. Oscar winner Martin Scorsese, who directed the 2002 feature adaptation of the book, is attached to executive produce the potential series and direct the first two episodes.
Details about the drama, from playwright/TV writer Brett Leonard (Shantaram), are sketchy but I hear this is a new take on the story with new characters that were not featured in the movie, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
Asbury’s book details the confrontations between rival gangs in New York in the mid- to late-1800s, prior to the domination of the Italian-American Mafia during Prohibition in the 1920s. That latter period was the subject of HBO’s drama Boardwalk Empire, which Scorsese executive produced and won an Emmy for directing the pilot episode.
I hear Scorsese responded to Leonard’s script, which had been developed internally at Miramax TV, and came on board as an executive producer and director. Also executive producing the series are Leonard and Scorsese’s managers Rick Yorn and Chris Donnelly. The project will be taken out to buyers later this month.
Scorsese was previously attached to a different TV series adaptation of The Gangs Of New York, whose development was announced by rights holder Miramax and GK Films in 2013. It was to follow organized gangs not only in New York but in other cities such as Chicago and New Orleans and chronicle the birth of organized crime in America.
“This time and era of America’s history and heritage is rich with characters and stories that we could not fully explore in a two-hour film,” Scorsese said at the time of that announcement. “A television series allows us the time and creative freedom to bring this colorful world, and all the implications it had and still does on our society, to life.”
A member of the LAByrinth Theater Company of New York City, Leonard is known for his play The Long Red Road whose staging at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago was directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and starred Tom Hardy. Leonard worked on Hardy’s FX series Taboo. His TV series credits also include AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead and Low Winter Sun as well as the upcoming Apple TV+ drama Shantaram. He is repped by WME.
Scorsese’s latest documentary, Personality Crisis: One Night Only, had a world premiere at the New York Film Festival last night. His next feature, Killers Of the Flower Moon, is expected to premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. In TV, Scorsese is executive producing the upcoming Hulu limited series The Devil In the White City. He is repped by WME, LBI Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.
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