HBO certainly were wishing for a better reception for “Vinyl.” From the creative braintrust of “Boardwalk Empire” team Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter, along with Mick Jagger, the network’s ’70s set music industry series was not critically beloved, has been met with a modestly sized audience, and overall, is not earning the kind of cultural cachet one would expect of a show with this kind of talent and money (lots of it) behind it. While the network has already renewed the show for a second season (frankly, not doing so would’ve been embarrassing given how much they’d throw into it), it seems there’s some behind the scenes friction that has led to one major talent leaving the fold.
Deadline reports that Terence Winter has been let go from “Vinyl” due to “creative differences.” Stepping into his place will be Scott Z. Burns (“The Informant!,” “Contagion“), marking his first TV effort, and as executive producer and the new showrunner, he’ll be tasked with essentially turning the show around. Joining him as executive producer is Max Borenstein (“Godzilla“), who wrote for the single season “Minority Report” TV series.
Yes, creatives come and go often, especially in television, but generally showrunners stick around for long stretches, and of course series creators, and Winter’s departure is a shock. Not only because of his long-running partnership with Scorsese (they’ve worked together on “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Wolf Of Wall Street“), but with HBO as well, penning the series that made them a household name for quality TV drama with “The Sopranos.” And it was only a couple months back that Winter shared he was not concerned about the initially low scores the series earned in viewership numbers.
“Viewing habits have changed so drastically that the truth is the first night doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. “It’s really like 20% of what it ultimately is after all platforms. Where we are now, we’re already past 2.5 million views, so it’s the number that comes out two, three weeks later that’s the actual number. Not that many people, apparently on Valentine’s night, were ready to sit down and watch a [what is essentially a two-hour] movie.”
Well, he may not have been worried, but the network clearly was. For their part, HBO has released a respectful statement, but one that makes it clear that “Vinyl” is shaking things up:
As we head into the second season of Vinyl, we have decided it is an appropriate time to make a change in the creative direction of the show. We have enjoyed a longtime partnership with Terry Winter at HBO on projects from The Sopranos to Boardwalk Empire to Vinyl, and we look forward to our next collaboration with him. We are pleased to welcome Scott Z. Burns, executive producer and showrunner, and Max Borenstein, executive producer, as the new team helming the show.
Winter had recently said that the second season would stay set in 1974, but it’ll be interesting to see if that changes, and what else goes under a dramatic reconstruction as HBO attempts to turn things around on the series. Between this, and the delays on “Westworld,” it makes it all the more baffling why they would cancel a modestly budgeted, critically adored, sure thing like “Togetherness.”
Thoughts? Is this the change “Vinyl” needs? Let us know below.