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“I’m still learning,” Terence Winter said of his experience as showrunner of HBO’s freshman rock ‘n’ roll drama Vinyl, which stars Bobby Cannavale as a ‘70s record executive trying to save his company. Winter delivered the keynote address at Wednesday’s 8th Annual TV + Film Finance Forum East in New York less than a week after HBO announced that he would not return for the show’s second season, with executive producer Scott Z. Burns stepping in as showrunner.
“Period pieces are really tough,” Winter admitted to a roomful of entertainment execs and investors at the Dream Downtown hotel. “It’s tough to depict reality that’s still fresh in someone’s mind.” Despite being renewed for a second season and counting names like Mick Jagger and Martin Scorcese among its co-creators, the show has netted unimpressive ratings for HBO. “Maybe it’s too soon?” Winter wondered aloud about tackling that particular era of New York City’s history. “I don’t know.”
The Hollywood Reporter is Winston Baker’s media partner in their series of film finance events held in cities around the world this year. At Wednesday’s event, while speaking on the subject of “the art and value of storytelling,” Winter, the former Sopranos writer-producer and creator of Boardwalk Empire, told his own story of growing up as an aspiring auto mechanic in Brooklyn who would later graduate from law school only to discover he wanted to “jump out the window” on his first job working for a major Manhattan law film. Winter then shocked his friends and family by leaving it all behind to try his hand at screenwriting in Los Angeles.
Considering his many successes since then, including penning the Oscar-nominated screenplay for 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, perhaps the greatest revelation of Winter’s speech was his envy of a popular franchise he had no part in creating: ABC’s The Bachelor. He described how, after his wife finally convinced him to watch one episode with her, he was “so hooked” on the reality series.
“If we can find out how to do what they do,” he said, “then scripted TV has a chance in this business.”
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