This past July, Showtime received 29 Primetime Emmy nominations, the most nominations in the network’s history. By contrast, HBO, the long acknowledged leader in cable television, led the entire field with 99 nominations. Looking to gain ground in the noms-race, Showtime is teaming up with Robert De Niro and Spike Lee to produce “Alphaville,” a new ensemble series about Manhattan’s Alphabet City set in the 1980s. Hit the jump to find out more.
Unlike De Niro and Lee, I am not a native New Yorker so when I first heard about this project I wondered if it was going to be like a Sesame Street version of “Mad Men.” While such a show would be potentially hilarious, “Alphaville” sounds like it will be dark, gritty and unflinching. Better known today as the upscale East Village, Alphabet City has a stormy past. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show will chronicle the not-so-good old days when struggling artists and musicians, celebrities, bohemians, drugs and violent crime all lived together in a multi-ethnic neighborhood.
Alphabet City has long been a subject for films and plays. De Niro’s “Taxi Driver” drove the streets and it is where bohemians refused to pay “Rent” and where puppets learned what the internet is really used for. Showtime is clearly trying build off of the financial and critical successes of shows like “Dexter” and “United States of Tara.” Whether or not it is ever able to catch the behemoth of HBO, Showtime continues to move in the right direction. Adding De Niro and Lee (who has an option to direct the pilot) is sign that the network has come a long way from the days when “Stargate SG-1″ was its top ranked program. If they keep this up, my DVR will soon be overflowing.