) ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season Three Preview
 | Arts & Entertainment | Atlantic City Weekly


‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season Three Preview

The pages of HBO’s award-winning epic novel of a series continue to turn, as Atlantic City and the early 1920s 
take center stage — along with some of the finest acting, writing and storytelling on TV today.

By Jeff Schwachter

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 54 | Posted Sep. 12, 2012

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UPDATE: Caesars screening of Boardwalk Empire's Season Three premiere in Atlantic City photo.

Speaking with Boardwalk Empire actor Anthony Laciura (Eddie Kessler) on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 6, from the New York set of the HBO original series — Season Three of which debuts on the cable network Sunday, Sept. 16, 9pm (EST) — the actor is a bit tired from the previous night’s private premiere party in New York. Laciura and his fellow cast-mates from the award-winning show, based in Atlantic City — and on America in the early 1920s — during Prohibition, are wrapping up filming episode 11 of the gritty gangster series’ upcoming season.

It’s 1923 in the third season of the highly acclaimed show, about a year and a half since Season Two ended with the killing of one of the series’ most popular and beloved characters. However, as the new season’s first five episodes reveal, the series is only getting better with time, especially with its masterful storytelling, interweaving of historic and fictional elements and the introduction of several new characters this year. 

Laciura (left), who will be in Atlantic City on Saturday, Sept. 15, with actor Stephen DeRosa (Eddie Cantor on the show) and producer Gene Kelly, for a free, open-to-the-public screening of the Season Three premiere episode at Caesars (Circus Maximus Theater, 8pm doors, 9pm start, cash bar, must be 18 or older), says that the third season picks up “just as dramatic as” Season Two ended last December. “Last night, people were saying: ‘My God, there are so many plot lines that could go in any direction!’ And they do, in any and all directions … it’s a hot third season. It’s very episodic.”

Laciura, who portrays leadman Enoch “Nucky” Thompson’s (Steve Buscemi) valet, says his often comical character evolves during the upcoming season. 

“All of the characters develop, along with all of the new people being introduced [this season], but all of the characters, as you’ll see as each episode evolves, get a little more depth, including yours truly.”

Asked if the absence of Michael Pitt (who played Jimmy Darmody until the last episode of Season Two) and the addition of several new cast members on the set have affected the feel and production of the show, Laciura says, “Absolutely.” 

(Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Second Season is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally from HBO if you want to revisit last year’s 12 episodes. There are also bonus features including audio commentaries, documentaries and a character dossier.) 

The show’s award-winning creator, executive producer and writer Terry Winter also recently took some time to speak with Atlantic City Weekly from the set of Season Three. He says the four major new characters we meet early on in Boardwalk Empire’s third season — Stephen Root as Gaston Means, Arron Shiver as Chicago gangster Dean O’Banion, Meg Chambers as Nucky’s new mistress, Billie Kent, and especially Bobby Cannavale, as Nucky’s new nemesis Gyp Rosetti — bring a new energy and heightened dynamic to the show. 

“They’re all terrific actors,” he says. “I mean Stephen Root is just amazing. It’s such a pleasure to have him on the show. He’s just so fun to write for.” 

Along with the acting, the sex, violence and stunning turn-of-events are all amped up in Season Three as the Roaring ’20s begin in earnest. Winter discusses the upcoming season in the following interview.

Have all of the episodes for Season Three been shot as of now?

We are currently shooting episode 11 [and] we are in the process of prepping episode 12, which should start shooting in about a week and that will be it. We’ll wrap up at the end of September. So, yeah, we’re coming down the home stretch of Season Three.

When did you determine that Jimmy would be killed?

Pretty early on. As we started plotting out the season, it became evident to me that the only logical conclusion to that story line was that Jimmy was going to die. I mean I knew that Jimmy was going to die from the beginning of the series, when I started plotting it out. It’s almost foreshadowed in the pilot when Jimmy tells Nucky: “You can’t be half a gangster anymore,” and I knew that at one point Nucky would cross that line and fully become a gangster. I knew he would do it by killing the guy who said that to him, which was Jimmy. I didn’t know when that was going to happen, of course, but as Season Two started playing out it became evident that if we were going to tell that story honestly, the way to do it [was] for Jimmy to die. 

And “You Can’t Be Half a Gangster” is now the tagline for Season Three.

Yeah, it kind of lent itself to our whole ad campaign and that’s where Nucky is right now. We’re kind of jumping ahead 14 months or so into the future from where episode 12 [Season Two] ends. It’s early 1923, actually the very beginning of 1923. And, you know, the game has changed quite a bit. Things have gotten a lot more violent, a lot more competitive, and Nucky has sort of had to up his game as well in order to survive. 

Nucky looks rather sick and is hallucinating through the first five episodes of Season Three. 

Yeah, I mean [killing Jimmy] was a major step for him. So, we sort of felt like we wanted to see some of the psychological remnants of having done that. I mean the guy was like a surrogate son to him so he can’t be — even if you ask him the question to his face he’d say he doesn’t give a shit, but I think deep dark secrets, being what they are, I think late at night, and when you’re sleeping these are the things that come back to haunt you. And we were interested in exploring that.

We see Eli come back from jail early in the third season.

Eli did his time in jail. He was in jail during the off-season, so that worked out. [And he’s just getting out of jail in episode two.] It’s interesting, Shea Whigham really committed [himself to the part]. He called me up even before we started shooting [Season Three] and said, “So, was I in jail jail or was this sort of like Goodfellas jail, nice and cushy because I was the sheriff?” And I said, “No, this was really jail.” And he says, “OK, I’m going to drop a little weight then.” And I said, “All right,” and then he came back and I was like, “Holy shit!” He dropped like 15 pounds. And he was already thin. And you can just see it in his face — he really looks like he went through the wringer. I mean I can’t lose five pounds; I don’t how these [actors] do it!

The new showgirl on the show, Billie Kent — was she a real-life performer of the era?

No, she is fictional, someone of our own invention. We just sort of came up with her to give Nucky a new mistress. There was a showgirl who rented an apartment from Arnold Rothstein who was actually murdered in 1921 and found dead in her apartment. But we basically stole the idea that she was a tenant of Rothstein’s, but that’s about as far as the similarities go. She’s not really meant to be that other person. 

It seems like everybody smokes in the 1920s.

Yes, yes. There was some ad from the 1920s, a billboard that read how many billions are sold every year — Lucky Strike or Camel. They made a very concerted effort in the late teens to make it clear that smoking for women was appropriate. They actually tried to tie it into the suffragette movement. One of the tobacco companies actually staged a publicity stunt where they said they were going to be lighting “torches of freedom” and it was women smoking, the torches being the cigarette. Because that was 50 percent of their market, you know, that was not opened up because women traditionally did not smoke. Suddenly that became acceptable for women and it was a huge thing. 

There must be a lot of cigarette butts on the set of Boardwalk Empire.

Yeah, but they are all herbal cigarettes. Because of union rules nobody’s allowed to actually smoke real cigarettes. Even with the cigars, they’re not real. I think the actors who actually have to smoke them think they’re absolutely vile because they’re not real tobacco. They’re kind of made out of banana peels or something. I’m not really sure what they’re all made of, but they’re not real cigarettes and they’re not real cigars. 

Even for the actors who actually smoke?

Yeah, it’s not allowed. It’s a workplace rule. You can’t be in an environment where people are smoking. Especially when we get to a nightclub [scene] and everybody is smoking, you’d be completely exposed to that all day long. Yeah, it’s not a bad rule. ... It’s funny whenever you’re in a public place where there is smoking it’s kind of jarring; it’s always weird. I was in Vegas recently and I was walking in a casino and people were smoking and I was thinking: “This is so strange.” You know, I remember when I was a kid and [smoking was permitted] in movie theaters and airplanes; it was like crazy. I love the “non-smoking sections” like two seats away from the “smoking sections,” which is absolutely absurd. But yeah, it’s always strange now to see people smoking. 

Is Tabor Heights, which plays an important part in the third season, a fictional town in New Jersey on the way to New York?

It’s a fictional town, but that whole story line is sort of based on reality. There was a town, I think it was called the Atlantic Highlands — it was near Ocean Grove, I believe — that was a little tiny Methodist town and it was overrun by gangsters in 1922-23. They realized, “Hey, this is a sleepy little town right on the ocean and we can use this as a port to import alcohol and we’re not going to have any resistance.” It ended up being a real disaster. These guys came in and took over this place and it erupted into a running gun battle on the beach in 1923. People were killed right during a holiday weekend or something. It was pretty crazy. 

One of the new characters, Gyp Rosetti, is a real monster. How will he change the dynamics of the show? 

Well, he’s certainly a different energy and really a different challenge for Nucky. This guy is unlike Johnny Torrio or Arnold Rothstein, who are fairly reasonable gangsters. This guy can get set off by the slightest thing. So, anything can happen. The level of violence could go to the extreme and happen any time. There’s really no reasoning with a guy like this. Even when you think you have a deal [with him] and think you’re on the same page, it turns out you’re not. If you say one wrong thing, or even something that he perceives as the wrong thing, and suddenly you’ve got a big problem. I think the uncertainty and the fact that everything sort of feels off-kilter when he’s around is really a fun energy for us to play with. 

Both Gaston Means and Dean O’Banion were real people.

Yeah, Gaston Means, and, of course, Dean O’Banion was a real-life gangster in Chicago who was Al Capone’s nemesis on the North Side for a couple years and actually did own a florist shop [as depicted in Season Three]. 

Speaking of Al Capone, Stephen Graham is just so amazing. What a stellar actor.

Yeah, he’s great. Just incredible. And it’s so fun to sort of have the luxury of going home with Al Capone and seeing that relationship with him and his [deaf] son. These are the kinds of things that we normally don’t get a chance to explore. Even when there is a movie on Al Capone, it’s when Capone is at his most powerful. So this is great for us to play with the young Capone, who’s not really the guy yet. And to get to actually see how he became that person is really, really interesting. 

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Comments 1 - 54 of 54
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1. William said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 04:45PM

“Wrong, wrong, wrong Jimmy should come back. He is the perfect nemesis for Nucky. Kind of between Nucky and the other gangsters, sometimes siding with him and sometimes against him. The bullet could have gone through his skull but glanced his brain so he spent a long time in the hospital and rehabilitation gaining his memory back which he loses and don't remember Nucky shooting him.”

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2. Beth Tinnon said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 05:23PM

“Make sure you get you tickets now for our production show at Dante Hall Theater November 10th "A Night At The Speakeasy" a musical journey which is both entertaining and educational on the 1920's here in Atlantic City! For more info go to www.BethTinnon.com look on the calendar page under November to see time, ticket info and watch a video :)”

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3. Shakespeare said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 06:48PM

“william ... that is a possibility isn't it?”

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4. Anonymous said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 07:10PM

“then why did the creator of the show say he was dead? Uh...”

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5. PJ Proby said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 08:22PM

“great interview”

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6. Mueller said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 09:40PM

“Bring Jimmy back!”

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7. Robert W said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:20AM

“Can't wait for season 3 ! We are having a boardwalk empire party sunday night to celebrate! I am glad Jimmy is dead, his story was getting redundant it was the right thing to do.”

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8. ChanningJ said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:06PM

“1923 is going to bring the best from the series, such superb acting, sets, and detailed suits, this series should inspire all to dress better.”

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9. Tara said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:33PM

“Looking forward to seeing "BE" continue without Michael Pitt's character. It is rare one of the main characters gets killed off the TV show, so it will be interesting to see how they continue the story without him. Cannot wait to see!!!!”

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10. rich said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 05:56PM

“Cant wait!”

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11. Brenney said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 08:53PM

“Looking forward to getting some Nucky! ;)”

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12. Djmanzy said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 08:53PM

“Looking forward to seeing how Chalky White continues to survive and thrive withstanding the bureaucracy & racism of the time.”

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13. Wayne said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 10:05PM

“I can't wait for the third season. It's gonna be awesome!”

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14. Bobby G said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 01:36PM

“I love seeing all the Roaring 20's theamed outfits and staging and especially living in the Atlantic City area for over 30 years it great to see some of the area on HBO. Awesome!!”

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15. Tracey Bright said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 03:58PM

“Season 3, bring it on! Been jonesing for some more Nucky action! I know Terence Winter and crew will not let me down!”

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16. Lynda C. said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 04:06PM

“This article has me very excited for season three! I'm looking forward to seeing more of Margaret and how she deals with Nucky's new mistress.”

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17. Gail C said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 05:42PM

“Nelson Van Alden was one of the most deliciously-creepy characters in the show - I can't wait to see what happens to him out in Cicero with nanny and baby (if he stays in the show), and how he will tie into the new season. I'm SO GLAD Terence Winter is tipping his hand about a Season 4 - we can't wait. Sundays at 9 PM is the fastest hour all week in our house!!”

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18. Dominic P said... on Sep 14, 2012 at 06:49PM

“Read article anxious to see how you interwove Atlantic City with the role it played during prohibition.”

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19. Danny Boy said... on Sep 16, 2012 at 09:09AM

“Jimmy's character was so devastated by the end of season 2, the only outcome was his demise. Either by Nucky's hand or his own.”

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20. Bill Ernst said... on Sep 17, 2012 at 04:13PM

“In the upcoming 2012 season, I'm looking forward to seeing any relationship that Nucky Johnson may have had with Skinny Diamato, the owner of the 500 Club

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21. LINDA HEFFERNAN said... on Sep 18, 2012 at 10:16AM

“We just watched Season 1 and hope to soon get to Season 2. As someone who visits AC frequently, I enjoy BE a lot.”

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22. anonymous s w said... on Sep 19, 2012 at 03:25AM

“looking forward to ever increasing intense violence and someone important getting whacked! hint hint - a real Shocker”

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23. JOHN HEFFERNAN said... on Sep 19, 2012 at 09:17AM

“I read the book that inspired Boardwalk Empire. Highly recommended!”

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24. pork sharp said... on Sep 19, 2012 at 01:41PM

“Skinny D'amato in the 1920s?”

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25. peter said... on Sep 20, 2012 at 09:34PM

“Loved the books, I sold Many, Many copies of it when I worked @ Borders, looking forward to seeing Nucky's new Mistress”

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26. John Chowanec said... on Sep 21, 2012 at 10:42AM

“i think nucky will kill nelson van alden before the season is over!”

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27. cindy said... on Sep 21, 2012 at 07:12PM

“Favorite Show..Thanks HBO...”

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28. Linda said... on Sep 21, 2012 at 08:30PM

“What a great series. Can't wait to see what happens next.”

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29. bud said... on Sep 22, 2012 at 07:03PM

“killer show for a killer town. Worth the wait between seasons”

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30. Annette R. Grohman said... on Sep 23, 2012 at 09:40AM

“Eli's coming out of jail-this should be real interesting.”

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31. Steven Melhorn said... on Sep 24, 2012 at 10:49PM

“Looking forward to the new season!”

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32. Allen said... on Sep 25, 2012 at 10:59PM

“Hope some of the spoilers are just red herrings, lets have some surprises to enjoy!”

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33. Anonymous said... on Sep 26, 2012 at 08:56AM

“What I am looking forward to with season three, well I have not seen season two yet. But I do own season one and hope to add the following seasons as well. I found the series very entertaining with its place as being
historical, capturing a time when Atlantic City was an entertainment capital.
Showing how probition effected american society, a law that was not very
well observed, gave rise to organized crime, and shown how upprepared
law enforcement was with the issue.”

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34. Shelly said... on Sep 27, 2012 at 06:56AM

“Please sign me up to WIN!
Thank you”

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35. Anonymous said... on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:06AM

“The best drama on TV!”

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36. taylokus said... on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:34AM

“I'm interested in seeing how far Richard Harrow can go on his quest for revenge. He's on a collision course with Nucky, which of course he can't win.”

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37. Anonymous said... on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:46AM

“Heck yes!”

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38. Eddie J said... on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:24PM

“"Will Margaret and Owen Sleater "hook up" again?

"Will Gyp Rosetti and Nucky go head to head over the deal of Nucky supplying Arnold Rothstein exclusively?
"Gyp Rosetti is trouble for everyone."”

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39. Turtle said... on Sep 27, 2012 at 02:42PM

“I think Richard is going to go off-the-hook this season in revenge for Jimmy's death. I also bet there's an explosion!”

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40. paul nowell said... on Sep 28, 2012 at 07:10AM

“I'll always watch the series but I'd love to see less violence and more story. I'd also hope for something nice to happen to Margaret. In the future it would be great to jump forward to the Skinny D'Amato era. Nucky Johnson finally went to jail in 1941. The young Skinny went to jail for a year in 1938. When he got out he became one of the best known figures in AC history. His life at the 500 Club was rich with stories about the celebrities and gangsters he became close to.”

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41. Donna said... on Sep 28, 2012 at 10:51AM

“Love the show!”

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42. ChuckBrownB!tch said... on Sep 28, 2012 at 10:58AM

“I have had a tough time staying involved with this show since Jimmy got knocked off. None of the other characters are as likeable or easy to relate to as Jimmy was. I will continue to watch and try to get emotionally attached to someone on the show, but it is a struggle.”

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43. Anna said... on Sep 28, 2012 at 11:03AM

“I'm looking forward to everything thats good to happen this season, so much to look forward to <3”

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44. Anna said... on Sep 28, 2012 at 11:03AM

“I'm looking forward to everything thats good to happen this season, so much to look forward to <3”

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45. Jeanne said... on Sep 29, 2012 at 10:22AM

“Missing Jimmy. Nucky shows a vulnerable side with his new mistress. Love the shoe and the history of AC.”

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46. tom p said... on Oct 7, 2012 at 01:05PM

“best show since 1920”

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47. Taylor Denise said... on Oct 22, 2012 at 09:55PM

“I just got hooked on boardwalk empire & can not find older episode online!! Such a great show, it always has you on your toes & is a great way to show Asbury & NJ before they trash ways of snookies and YOLO”

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48. Tom said... on Oct 25, 2012 at 07:39PM

“Great show and great acting.”

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49. mike said... on Oct 28, 2012 at 09:45AM

“Great Show”

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50. Tom said... on Oct 31, 2012 at 05:16PM

“I wish there had been another roll or part for Frank Shattuck aka Charlie Sheridan who was killed in episode six I think he is a very good actor and would have been a fine character if it had been written into the script I think the show is the best it is wright up there with the Sopranos or at least even and I also think it is great that HBO has signed for a 4th season!”

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51. Shelly said... on Nov 1, 2012 at 05:46PM

“Hope you choose me, while everything is going on and hopefully will improve now.”

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52. marge mcq said... on Nov 13, 2012 at 09:48PM

“Best series I have ever seen, love the AC history that is shown and told.
Read the book and met the author, great story!! of AC, Seen 1st and 2nd series looking forward to the third and more.”

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53. maryellen said... on Nov 24, 2012 at 09:42PM

“Atlantic Highlands is nowhere near Ocean Grove, still confused as to what town the fictional Tabor Heights is supposed emulate.”

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54. mike said... on Jan 20, 2013 at 11:53AM

“This show is Awesome and Terence Winter is Brilliant! I can not wait till season4 ! ... keep up the Great Work and I Purchased your signed book at the wine shop on the Boardwalk in Ac . with some" Uncle Nucky Wine"


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“[Empire’s] helped remind people of what a colorful history we’ve had as a city, and helped bring these things back into focus for some people. And I think the fact that the series is very well regarded only helps.”

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 of His Contentment

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The Sounds of ‘Boardwalk Empire’
By Jeff Schwachter

In a “news” box on the upper right side of the Archeophone Records home page, there’s a list of the songs played thus far in the first two episodes of HBO’s 'Boardwalk Empire,' set in 1920s Atlantic City.

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