As you may recall back in May 2006, Deadwood fans were shocked to learn that the third season of David Milch’s acclaimed western series would be the show’s last. Though the HBO series was not officially cancelled per se, the series’ cast options were not picked up, leaving the actors unemployed and free to pursue other projects. If new Deadwood projects were commissioned at a later time, it was said that it would be unlikely that all of the cast members would be available to participate.
Lots of fans let HBO know how they felt about the situation. A massive letter-writing campaign was organized and a full-page ad was placed in the trade paper Variety. Many said that if the pay-per-view channel cancelled the old west series then they would cancel their monthly subscriptions. HBO heard the outcry and finally came to an agreement with David to create a pair of two-hour films that would allow him to properly wrap up the series (in place of a fourth season). Each episode of Deadwood has typically represented one day in the lives of the South Dakota characters. Shifting to two-hour movies would allow David to break that format and complete the storys he had planned for the final season.
At the time, it was said the movies would be broadcast in 2007. According to SaveDeadwood.net, filming is now scheduled to start in June or July of this year (after the completion of the first season of David’s other HBO series, John from Cincinnati). Unfortunately, the longer it takes for the production to get going, the less likely that all of the cast members will be available. Many of the actors have very active careers outside the Deadwood series.
Actor Ian McShane (Al Swearengen on Deadwood) for example is scheduled to star in a revival of The Homecoming on Broadway in the Fall. His rehearsals would theoretically start in October, leaving a very limited time-frame to participate in the movies.
Though David Milch is reportedly excited about his scripts, Ian seems less than optimistic. “We’re still waiting to know if the two two-hour movies will done,” McShane said. “Today they say yes, they will be done, but who knows what they’ll say tomorrow. I’ve got a feeling in me that it’s not completely dead in some way, but who knows what they could do it?”
Though it seems like we’re closer to seeing the movies be made, they’re far from completed. Will all of the cast members be available? Will the movies fulfill the promise and wrap up the storylines properly? Time will tell so stay tuned!