Just a couple of weeks ago, HBO premiered a new series from Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter and Mike Jagger about the record industry in New York City called "Vinyl." It stars Bobby Cannavele, as American Century Records owner, Richie Fenestra. Olivia Wilde portrays the wife of Fenestra. Remember “Everyone Love Raymond” star, Ray Romano; he’s a partner, “Zak Yankovich,” Head of Promotions for label. Max Casella is Julius Silver, Head of A&R. P.J. Byrne is Scott Levitt, the company attorney. JC MacKenzie is Skip Fontaine, head of sales. Juno Temple is Jamie Vine, an up and coming A&R assistant, with many, many ideas.
As I was a huge “Boardwalk Empire” fan, I could wait to see what Scorscese and Terence Winter had in store for us this time. Cannavele starred as Gyp Rossetti in “Boardwalk Empire,” one of the most interesting characters and certainly one of the most evil in the series.
“Vinyl” takes place in 1973. The mantra of sex, drugs and rock and roll is alive and well in New York City. Richie is a cokehead that can barely keep his head above water. Devon is getting sick and tired of his raucous behavior, along with being a bored suburban homemaker in Connecticut.
Richie and his partner are trying to sell the company to Polygram Records, until Richie has a revelation brought on by seeing “The New York Dolls,” in a building that soon collapses during the show. It's at this point that he sees how he can save his company without selling it. His partners aren't too thrilled when he tells the Germans, who own Polygram, “The deal is off.”
Especially distraught is Zak, as he has to pay for a very expensive Bat Mitzvah. His wife and daughter are beating him down; he just can't say no to his little girl. Later that night he goes into his garage and contemplates suicide.
One of the more interesting characters is Jamie, who claims to have the ear for finding and developing new talent. One night she hears the "Nasty Bits" play in a seedy club, fronted by Kip Stevens, played by James Jagger. She wants to sign his band to American Century, but has to convince Richie and Julie that they are the real thing. In trying to convince Kip to sign with the label, she ends up in bed with him.
One of the more interesting, yet short-lived characters was Frank "Buck" Rogers. He played, with much nuance, by stand-up comic and actor, Andrew "Dice" Clay. Rogers is a radio station owner and a needy cokehead. He convinces Richie to leave his birthday party and go to his palatial apartment in New York City. Their friend Joe Corso, played by former NYC Detective and actor Bo Dietl, is with Buck. The two men are mindless on drugs. Corso ends up beating Rogers to death, with repeated blows to the head using a vase. In true Scorsese body-in-the-trunk style, Richie and Joe drive the body out to "the country" and dump it in a ditch.
Richie runs into one of his former acts, Lester Grimes, played by Ato Essandoh. They had a falling out years before over a business deal. Richie sees Essandoh at club, one night; someone asks him to leave before trouble starts. Lester is a talented singer. A mob boss wants Essandoh to continue making dance hits, while he wants to record soul and the blues. I think Richie is going to offer him a chance to make the music he wants.
My take on “Vinyl” is simple. I like it. HBO already renewed the show for a second season. I can certainly see it being on for at least four years. The 1970s were a turbulent time in New York City; the music, of “Vinyl,” was the soundtrack to the city. It was on 24 July 1978 when WKTU-FM "Disco 92" was born, and all hell broke loose. The stranglehold that WABC-AM had on the ratings started to fall apart and the rise of FM radio in NYC had begun.
So give “Vinyl” a shot, and let the soundtrack of the 70's transport you back to what was a very interesting time of our lives. If you haven’t seen any of the episodes, yet, HBO re-runs past shows before the new episode, on Sundays.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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