It seems as if David Chase has a sense of film history and is looking to bring it to HBO for his first major project with the network since The Sopranos whacked itself. Word has spread that Chase is re-partnering with Sopranos co-executive producer and current Paramount CEO / Chairman Brad Grey to produce A Ribbon of Dreams, a miniseries about the evolution of Hollywood over the last century. The title refers to an Orson Welles quote that once regarded film as such. The mini will start in the year 1913 and follow two fictitious characters, one an engineer and one a cowboy with a violent past, who go to work for D.W. Griffith and then cross paths along the way with such old school cinema heavyweights as John Ford, John Wayne, Bettie Davis and Billy Wilder.
The source article from the tip I got is from Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post‘s TV Column and she seems to be somewhat enthusiastic over the prospect. Very quite somewhat actually. She remarks that the revelation of this marks HBO as “the gutsiest network in all of television, and David Chase, the
unmockable creator of “The Sopranos,” as they “bravely announced they are
developing a miniseries about the invention of cinema and the early
days of the Hollywood film industry.” Now I’m quite sure the project will be good, because David Chase can pretty much write his own ticket after The Sopranos became probably the most highly-regarded TV show in recent memory. Calling him “unmockable,” however may be a bit of a stretch, because I do seem to recall that there wasn’t universal acclaim for the ending of the Sopranos.
Nevertheless, I do think that there is a lot of potential to have
big-name celebrities portray some of the most iconic legends of Old
Hollywood. Hell, they could just raid the production files for The Aviator
to do their casting. There are also other recent productions that had
big time stars portraying Hollywood notables. For instance, I could see
Liev Schreiber stepping back into Orson’s shoes (RKO 281), Halle Berry back as Dorothy Dandridge (Introducing Dorothy Dandridge), and definitely Cate returning as Katharine Hepburn (The Aviator).
Maybe Tony Goldwyn will step in to play Gramps. Liza Minelli could
play mom and…(uh, nevermind). That’s fan wank of course, but David
Chase does have the pull and talent to make things like that a
Speaking on the prospect of the venture, Chase remarked, “It gives me pleasure to think of working, together with Brad, with
HBO again….These are all people who, obviously,
occupy a special place in my heart.” Nellie Andreeva of THR.com added some details on the mini, stating that Through the eyes of the two main characters, as well as their
children and successors, the mini will chronicle the growth of the
film industry from the age of rough-hewn silent Westerns to the
golden era of talkies and the studio system to the auteur movement
to television and finally to the present day. “The epic scope of this miniseries will provide the perfect setting
for David Chase’s remarkable creative gifts,” said HBO’s West Coast
president Michael Lombardo, who announced the project with HBO
co-president Richard Plepler.
In addition to writing and exec producing, Chase also will direct
the first episodes of the mini, whose length has not been
determined but, given its scope, is expected to be in ballpark of
HBO’s seven-part “John Adams” and “Generation Kill” or 10-part
“Band of Brothers” and upcoming “The Pacific.”
This announcement also complements a similar one from Turner Classic Movies about a ten-part documentary, Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood. So it also seems that Time Warner, which owns both TCM and HBO is interested in big-time investment of its own roots. Sounds like both projects could be very interesting. I just wonder if Mickey Rourke will try to play himself.
Thanks to Chris for the tip.