Cocaine can make you do some crazy things. At least that’s the case with Bobby Cannavale’s record producer in HBO’s new drama “Vinyl,” which begins at 8 p.m. Valentine’s Day.
Set in 1973 with flashbacks to the ‘60s, “Vinyl” comes from the powerhouse team of Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese (he directs the pilot), Terence Winter (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”), author Rich Cohen and Mick Jagger (yes, that Mick Jagger) of the Rolling Stones.
The story takes place in the drug- and sex-riddled record industry, with Cannavale playing Richie Finestra, the founder and president of American Century Records who is on the verge of selling his company when he experiences an “epiphany” (some would say a breakdown) thanks to the white powder and an unusual music experience with the New York Dolls. His life then abruptly changes.
The cast includes Ray Romano and J.C. Mackenzie as Richie’s business partners and Olivia Wilde as Richie’s wife (and Andy Warhol's muse), but the performances that really shine -- outside of Cannavale’s -- are that of Juno Temple as an office assistant struggling to become something in a man’s world and James Jagger (Mick’s son) as the angry lead singer of a punk band.
Cannavale, who won an Emmy for his performance as an unpredictable and violent crime boss in “Boardwalk Empire," is just as incredible here. He’s a physical actor. That combined with those droopy eyes give Richie a powerful presence every time he’s on the screen. His performance is something to behold.
Music, not surprisingly, is the driving force here, used creatively and effectively in scene transitions, as scene setters and in performances. I can only imagine what the budget is for the rights to everything you hear. Artists heard and depicted range from Led Zeppelin to Bo Diddley to Karen Carpenter. “Vinyl” becomes, well, a history lesson in music, with a bunch of sex, drugs and violence thrown in for good measure. Grade: A.
Across the remote
* Also new this week is “11/22/63,” which begins Monday on Hulu. Based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel, the eight-episode series stars James Franco as a high school teacher who travels back in time to prevent John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The trouble, as Franco’s character learns, is that the past doesn’t want to be changed.
* TV’s big news came via the Super Bowl when a promo announced “The Good Wife” (CBS) will begin its final nine episodes March 6. The drama will end after seven seasons. It’s no surprise really, considering creators Robert and Michelle King announced a month ago they were leaving as showrunners.
* With Bryan Fuller at the helm of the new “Star Trek” series, we know it will be visually stunning. CBS announced Fuller -- creator of artistic masterpieces “Pushing Daisies” and “Hannibal” -- will serve as co-creator and showrunner for the “Star Trek” reboot, which will launch on CBS in early 2017 and then air on CBS All Access. Fuller began his career writing for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.”
* It looks like J. Lo. will have a continuous gig after “American Idol” is done. NBC renewed her police drama “Shades of Blue” for a second season. Also getting renewed, “The Magicians” (Syfy, second season), “Mozart in the Jungle” (Amazon, third season), “House of Cards” (Netflix, fifth season), “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix, fifth, sixth and seventh seasons), “Colony” (USA, second season), “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC, 18th season) and “Chicago Med” (NBC, second season).
* The news isn’t so good for Jane Lynch. CBS canceled her comedy “Angel from Hell” and will fill 8:30 p.m. Thursdays with “2 Broke Girls,” beginning this week. At least Lynch has her game night with celebrities on NBC. Also getting the axe: “Manhattan” after two seasons on WGN America and “Finding Carter” after two seasons on MTV.