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QUESTION- 1980's, sex, drugs, violence. Would you watch? (1 Viewer)

Croat32

Member
For the past few weeks, I have been in the process of writing a show, or "series." I haven't actually written an episode yet, but I have summarized a few seasons up, and have most of the main characters described. I'm wondering if this idea were to make it big, if anybody would actually watch it or take any interest in it.

I've been calling it "Big City Living." Two guys, who grew up together in San Diego, California, move to Las Vegas a few years after graduating high school. This all takes place in the 1980's. (Roughly 1985-1989). The point of their big move was their attempt to make it "big" in the world. They both start off working small time jobs, like in coffee shops, and fast food joints. However, the main character, Tyler, begins holding and moving illegal drugs for his friend at work. Owen, the other main character, starts to help, and to make an extremely long story short, the two hook up with a Russian drug lord, and become "unofficial" members of the Russian mob in Las Vegas.

The show is all about 1980's culture, violence, sex, and even though it sounds bad, drugs. I've been asking around a lot lately, and I was wondering who would possibly take interest in this series. Now I'm only 17-years old. I wasn't even alive during the 80's, but since I was a little kid, I've taken great interest in that decade, (mostly due to both of my parents growing up in that era). So it's obvious that A LOT of research will need to be done...

Most people I've talked to said that it sounded really cool, but would take a lot of work. Like I said, I have a few seasons summarized, and the character descriptions of the first two seasons, but I haven't actually written an episode yet... So I would greatly appreciate if you guys would give me an HONEST opinion of what you thought. Feel free to give any advice, or tips.

Thank you!
 
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garza

Senior Member
I'm sorry. It dosen't fly unless you have tons of back story to explain how the Russians displaced the spiritual heirs of Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. (Portrayed as Moe Greene and Hyman Roth in Godfather and Godfather II.)
 

Croat32

Member
I'm sorry. It dosen't fly unless you have tons of back story to explain how the Russians displaced the spiritual heirs of Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. (Portrayed as Moe Greene and Hyman Roth in Godfather and Godfather II.)

Please explain. I mean I know all about the mafia, and Bugsy Siegel and his crew, but what does this have to do with my story? Las Vegas is a big city, many drug operations take place, plus Siegel was killed in 1947, almost 40 years prior to my story taking place. And this is (roughly) 100% fiction. Not to forget that Lansky himself was born in the Russian Empire.
 
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garza

Senior Member
Well, so be it, but you are writing in an area in which I have done considerable research over the past 50 years, research that has continued to this day. So far as I know, the old gang, headed by people connected with families in Chicago and New Orleans, ran Las Vegas right through the '70s and '80s. I'm thinking of people like Antonio Spilotro, very much a 'spiritual descendant' of Siegel and Lansky. They even elected a mayor, but I would have to go back to my notes to find his name.
 

Croat32

Member
Well, so be it, but you are writing in an area in which I have done considerable research over the past 50 years, research that has continued to this day. So far as I know, the old gang, headed by people connected with families in Chicago and New Orleans, ran Las Vegas right through the '70s and '80s. I'm thinking of people like Antonio Spilotro, very much a 'spiritual descendant' of Siegel and Lansky. They even elected a mayor, but I would have to go back to my notes to find his name.

Once again, this story is totally fiction. You could be saying the exact same thing about the GodFather, which I think we can all agree is one of the best films ever produced.
 

garza

Senior Member
Nothing in 'The Godfather' deviated from the basic history of the era. All of the principle characters in the book and movie are based on real people. Frank Sinatra threatened to sue because the Johnny Fontaine character was clearly based on him. You say you know all about the mafia. If so you know that the caporegimes Tessio and Clemensa in the book were based on real people who were ordered killed by the heads of their own families, just as Tessio and Clemensa were ordered killed by Michael. Frank Pentangeli is another caporegime in the Corleone Family and is a composite of about three people who later divulged many of the secrets of the mafia, especially of the Five Families of New York and New Jersey. Mario Puzo did not invent any foreign culture, but built his entire fictionalised version on reality. He rewrote specific events for dramatic effect, but he did not create a new world. He used the one that was there.

Why not have your main characters interact with the kinds of people who were actually in Las Vegas in the '80s? The truth is it's a great story - the whole history of Las Vegas is a great story. You can tie in trips to Chicago, Cleveland, and New Orleans as the characters negotiate their way into the mob's buisiness.
 

Croat32

Member
Nothing in 'The Godfather' deviated from the basic history of the era. All of the principle characters in the book and movie are based on real people. Frank Sinatra threatened to sue because the Johnny Fontaine character was clearly based on him. You say you know all about the mafia. If so you know that the caporegimes Tessio and Clemensa in the book were based on real people who were ordered killed by the heads of their own families, just as Tessio and Clemensa were ordered killed by Michael. Frank Pentangeli is another caporegime in the Corleone Family and is a composite of about three people who later divulged many of the secrets of the mafia, especially of the Five Families of New York and New Jersey. Mario Puzo did not invent any foreign culture, but built his entire fictionalised version on reality. He rewrote specific events for dramatic effect, but he did not create a new world. He used the one that was there.

Why not have your main characters interact with the kinds of people who were actually in Las Vegas in the '80s? The truth is it's a great story - the whole history of Las Vegas is a great story. You can tie in trips to Chicago, Cleveland, and New Orleans as the characters negotiate their way into the mob's buisiness.

I see.. Well like I said it will take a lot of work, and advice from others such as yourself will only help. Thank you.
 

mockingbird

Senior Member
Hi Croat32, HBO would be your obvious choice for this material, but they would insist on a pilot episode ready to go. As for the Russkies, I personally don't think it matters whose in charge of their own little street corner, in fact play on their constant battles with the mob. Not even the Irish could get much of a foothold in LV - see Casino. Right the first episode at 44-50 pages long just in case you didn't know - 44 pages equates to 1 hour TV - and this is the tough part - knowing when to put AD breaks in. Keep at it though.
 

riverdog

Senior Member
I think what Garza is trying to say is that a Russian Mob operating in LV is not plausible. Vegas was run by the Chicago, NY, and St Louis (I think) mobs before big corporations took over. Even the mob can't fight Disney.

Fiction has to be based in fact or its not believable. For instance, imagine writing a love story between a black man and a white woman based in Alabama in 1830 but the same story didn't recognize the existence of slavery. It just wouldn't work. It's not believable.

People that read/watch mob and gangster stories know that the mafia ran LV, not the Russians.

I'm not sure on this, but I don't even think Russian gang activity came to the US until the collapse of the Soviet Union (1989).
 

Jinxi

Senior Member
I think you have a great idea here. As you already know, a lot of research does have to go into this, regardless of it being fiction. IMO, there needs to be some sort of truth in the plot in order for people to want to follow it and take it seriously.

I do not have a strong knowledge of the Russian mob from that time, so I cannot assist you with that. As I said though, I think you have a good idea here and I definitely think it something worth pursuing.
 

BabaYaga

Senior Member
Now I'm only 17-years old. I wasn't even alive during the 80's...

I'm weeping a little for my obviously advanced years. When I first read the title of your post, I figured your story would be centered on the selfish, money-oriented, cocaine-snorting, post-disco decadence of the 1980's and how 2 regular guys get sucked into a life of greed, money and madness in the Big City.

I would watch a story like this, because I don't think a lot of media portrays what that side of the 80's was like. I don't know anything about the mafia scene in the states, but I agree that it seems like a massive research project.

If it were me writing this, I would try to make it much more localised- focusing on the characters and the people they deal with directly in a strange new city, and especially on the relationship and the conflict between your 2 main characters. That's a story that anyone from anywhere can relate to, even with the sex, drugs and violence you will need to liberally sprinkle over your script to get the HBO stamp of approval :)
 

Croat32

Member
Bump/Update

Hey guys thanks for all of the opinions. I do still indeed have plans to write this series. It's been setback for a while because the laptop in which I had all of my information on went down a few months back. I've done some research and I think I'm going to stick with the Russians being the dominate drug gang. The fact of the matter is, the story is fiction, and there are drug gangs of various races and groups everywhere. Once again thank you for all of your help, it's been very beneficial for me.

If any of you have interest in sharing ideas, or reading some of my plots, (or even scripts when the time comes), you can message me on here and we will exchange e-mails.
 
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dale

Senior Member
i don't think i'd watch it, just because i grew up in the 80's and to me, that decade was just to damn soulless
to be interesting. at least the italian mafia had a rigorous code of honor and ethics...or at least it's romanticized
in such a way. a mob series set in the 80's would be like "pulp fiction", only without the dark humor and satire
which made it a great film.
admittedly, i don't know you or really know exactly how'd you'd pull it off, though. you might work it magically
and somehow make the decade more creatively interesting than it actually was.
 

Croat32

Member
i don't think i'd watch it, just because i grew up in the 80's and to me, that decade was just to damn soulless
to be interesting. at least the italian mafia had a rigorous code of honor and ethics...or at least it's romanticized
in such a way. a mob series set in the 80's would be like "pulp fiction", only without the dark humor and satire
which made it a great film.
admittedly, i don't know you or really know exactly how'd you'd pull it off, though. you might work it magically
and somehow make the decade more creatively interesting than it actually was.

Hmm really? Some people consider the 1980's one of the most exciting decades of the 20th Century. Why do you think that the kids of this generation still watch the movies and listen to the music from the 1980's? Because it fascinates them. You have to remember that many people find certain things more interesting than others. This is a reference back to the "Dazed and Confused theory" where "every other decade is better than the next."

1950's- "Boring"
1960's- Summer of love; Rocked
1970's- "Obviously Sucked"
1980's- Radical!
1990's- Sucked
 

dale

Senior Member
well, maybe i'm a bit biased just because i lived it. hell, i barely remember 1/2 of it. i personally found
the time artistically generic and materialistic. and it actually sickens me a bit to see today's generation
artistically rehash and remake the decade in horrendous hollywood movies. the 50's boring? didn't live it,
but rock n' roll was created, steinbeck, among many other writers, was working magic on paper. the 70's?
that WAS the decade of sex and drugs. the 80's merely took the 70's and slapped on a coat of glitter
paint and plastic. the 90's were angry at the 80's for being so generic, and you could feel that anger.
today's generation does suck, artistically speaking, imo. hopefully they can find something to call their own.
 

Firm1

Senior Member
I think it would be a great idea. However, you need to be careful of some things. First and foremost, because you didn't grow up in the 80s you need to do a lot of research to be as accurate as possible. This of course, you already know. But, there's another potential issue I see here. The basic plot could easily dive into a recycled story since it's dealing with your typical coming-of-age story within a mafia setting. I absolutely love the idea of it being in Vegas during the 1980's, which makes it stand out, but if you want to truly make this into something, I mean make it into something that everyone will remember, you need to tell it in a completely unique way. Otherwise, you'll just have a typical run-of-the-mill story that everyone's heard before. Having it in Vegas during the 1980's isn't sufficient. You need to add characters that have never been added before. You need to create events and moments that haven't never been told before. In other words, you have a lot of pondering to do.
 

drumzii

Senior Member
reply

I think its a great idea! I also love the 80s. In my mind I picture something between Goodfellas / Casino and The Wire (Not sure if you know these?)

Could you divulge a bit more of the plot? I will happily read it and critique once you get something solid put together!


I'm also writing my first story - a crime, thriller, horror fictional story set in 1983. It has taken me a lot of research which I am happy to share with you if needed.

I've researched 80s slang words, the major companies at the time, fashion, politics and historic events of the time.

Here to help :)
 
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