HBO orders up a big dose of ‘Deadwood’

The widely-popular Deadwood show produced by HBO is back — this time as a movie. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Raise those glasses high, prepare for some foul language and a trip back in time to the down and dirty raucous mining camp days of Deadwood, as HBO recently announced it would revive the “Deadwood” series for a movie to be released sometime in spring, 2019.

With many rumors of a revival surfacing from time to time since the series ended more than a decade ago, Deadwood History, Inc. (DHI) Director Carolyn Weber, who already has a direct line with production principals, said the movie is definitely a go.

“It’s a deal. It’s going to happen,” said Weber. “We’re just so happy they contacted us for this production. It’s great to be able to help them. This is big for Deadwood. It’s a shot in the arm, not only for Deadwood Historic Preservation, but also for Deadwood’s museums and historic resources.”

Production is scheduled to begin in October and directors have already been dialing up DHI asking for photographs dating back to 1889.

“John Rizzo contacted me last week regarding makeup he will be doing for the project and asked if I could find photographs that depicted what hair styles, make-up and clothing were like at that time,” said 

DHI executive director Carolyn Weber, adding that Rizzo indicated the movie would focus on the year 1889.

HBO programming chief Casey Bloys said Wednesday that production is scheduled to begin in October. An airdate has yet to be set but it could debut in spring 2019.

“I think this is very interesting,” said DHI Marketing and Communications Director Rose Speirs. “A lot of people thought they would pick back up with the fire of 1879, but they’ve requested materials from 1889, so I have a feeling it’s not going to be what we expect.”

Weber said Rizzo also requested photographs of street scenes with a lot of people in them, instead of just studio portraits.

“So they could accurately capture that, as well,” Weber said. “He also requested pictures of Seth Bullock, Sol Starr, and Calamity Jane. Some of the local legends we have.”

Variety reported the announcement was made by HBO programming president Casey Bloys at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press tour July 25.

“All of these people worked hard to get this together,” Bloys said. “It’s been a logistics nightmare getting all the cast members’ schedules together, but we are there. It is greenlit.”

Series creator David Milch created the script for the film and Bloys called it “terrific” and one that could “stand on its own.”

Speirs said then-Adams Museum & House director Mary Kopco and her staff did a lot of the research for props and make-up throughout the three-year series run from March 21, 2004 to August 27, 2006, working with Rizzo and his team.

“Mary and Jerry Bryant were invited out to the set in California and both won Emmys for their work,” Speirs said. 

The Emmys presented to Kopco and Bryant in 2005 and 2007 were in recognition of contributions to the Achievement for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series for historical information the pair provided to the critically acclaimed HBO Deadwood series art department to create authentic-looking sets.

This type of assistance will again be provided to producers by DHI.

Set in 1870s Deadwood, the show ran for 36 episodes and depicted growth in the gulch from a camp to a town. The large ensemble cast included actors Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, and John Hawkes.

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