Interview with Erik Weiner, who portrayed Agent Sebso on HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire' during its first season, and Atlantic City native Ed McGinty, who directed the video.
When Boardwalk Empire character Agent Sebso was killed by baptism — in Mays Landing — by his on-screen partner Nelson Van Alden in the first season of the HBO series, fans of the show probably thought they’d seen the last of the comical, yet shifty character portrayed by actor Erik Weiner.
But, if you had known that Weiner is also a lyricist and rapper, and were familiar with his 2008 video parody “One Line on ‘The Sopranos’” viral video, you may have had a hunch you’d see him yet again on the HBO set of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
In fact, it was due to his viral video that got him the part of Agent Sebso on Boardwalk Empire in the first place.
You see, the show’s creator Terry Winter wrote that “one line” that Weiner had on The Sopranos and wanted him for the part of the Prohibition agent.
Although Weiner’s character died during season one, he wrote a rap song called “Boardwalk Empire State of Mind,” recorded it in his closet and gave CD copies to Winter, as well as many other members of the crew and cast.
Ed McGinty, an Atlantic City native who not only plays Ward Boss Boyd on the show, but is also a research adviser for the writing team, not only loved the song, but decided to work with Weiner to make a video for it.
McGinty, who has studied filmmaking, acting and screenwriting, and who has shot a number of other music videos, got access to the show’s New York set this past Labor Day where he and Weiner, who had re-written the song for a public audience, shot the video with only one other actress.
Hilarious and utterly entertaining, “Boardwalk Empire State of Mind” has already tickled the funny bones of more than 71,000 viewers on YouTube alone (as of Friday, Dec. 16) since its debut on the Internet video site last Wednesday night, Dec. 8. (Watch full video at end of this article)
On a three-way call, McGinty and Weiner spoke with Atlantic City Weekly a week later. Here are excerpts from the interview:
PICTURE: A scene from season one of HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire,' with Atlantic City native Ed McGinty at far right, playing Ward Boss Boyd.
First, congrats on another amazing season.
Ed McGinty: It's an honor to be a part of this incredible piece of work and it goes even further for me because I grew up in Atlantic City and I feel as though there is a real blood element for me.
How did you get involved with this video project?
EM: Long story short, I was a roadie/stage manager on big music tours and what not so I had access to a lot of bands and my father and grandfather were both sort of hobbyists with photography so I would photograph the bands and then I got a video camera and it was just a matter of access. And then just doing it. And then I took some time off from the road and went away to film school, so I used some of that access to do some music videos for a few bands. I had shot and worked with the Beastie Boys while filming their The Tibet Freedom Concert, which I shot. But I didn't really have a director's job on an actual music video until I met a band called The Distillers and they gave me a lot of work.
You directed the "Boardwalk Empire State of Mind" video.
EM: I did, thanks to Erik [Weiner] who asked me to do it, which was a big thrill.
What was impetus to you writing the song and then doing the video?
Erik Weiner: Well, you know the story about how I got on the show [Boardwalk Empire], how I got on the show through [my 2008 video 'One Line on the Sopranos']. So when Terry Winter told me [that my character Agent Sebso] was dying my initial reaction was, 'Dang!' You know, but my second reaction was, 'I gotta write a song about my time on the show, because that would be a nice bookend to the story of me coming on it and leaving it. So the natural one that occurred to me was 'Boardwalk Empire State of Mind,' so I started writing it and wrote it and recorded a sort of very janky version of it that I just recorded in my closet at home and when I came back to shoot the final episode I gave CDs to the producers and Ed, who I had become friends with while working on the show by that point, and Michael Shannon and then a couple other people in the crew as a present to say goodbye.
A lot of the lyrics were a lot more insular and shout outs to like Ed and Terry Winter and everyone. And everyone loved it, especially Ed, who told me: 'I'm going to direct the music video.' I didn't ask him to shoot the music video [laughing], he came to me and was like, 'I'm going to direct the music video!' And I was psyched to hear that so it took us a while to get it all together, but we finally did and it couldn't have turned out better. Hat's off to Ed, I think he did an amazing job.
Yeah, it looks amazing and really captures the essence of the show in terms of the set, and obviously people who watch the show will get a lot of the inside jokes and stuff like that in the lyrics.
From Nelson Johnson and the original book to the Grammy-winning soundtrack, interviews with the cast and executives of the HBO show set in Atlantic City and the real stories behind the drama series.
"Eddie lived in a kind of musically optimistic 1920s place even though he had a shitty childhood. His parents died when he was young but his grandmother raised him and he was little and scrawny so he got beaten up a lot. He learned to make jokes so he could avoid getting beaten up, so from then on he realized this singing and dancing thing could work."
"When I recorded the first two songs I got to record with the band, which I prefer — in the same room, we did it live. Coming from a musical theater background, I prefer to sing live because there's just this synergy when you have a band playing behind you."
The long-awaited DVD set featuring the complete first season of HBO's Boardwalk Empire will be released in January 2012.
The famed seaside resort that is portrayed in HBO's hit drama series Boardwalk Empire celebrated the show's second season premiere on Sunday, Sept. 25, in a number of ways over the weekend.
“[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.”
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.
Early in the premiere episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, a crowd of dapper Atlantic City movers and shakers, partying well into the night in a spiffy supper club, make a familiar countdown, cocktail glasses held high...
1912 Prohibition Party Convention
A Nucky by Any Other Name
‘Prohibition’ Returns — in October