Richie Finestra, the founder and president of American Century Records, is trying to save his company and soul without destroying everyone in his path. With his passion for music and discovering talent gone by the wayside, and American Century on the precipice of being sold, he has a life-altering event that reignites his love of music, but severely damages his personal life. It’s a scenario that could be happening today, tomorrow, right now. It will happening on HBO, with a super cast and a slew of executive producers who know the stuff.
From Oscar and Emmy winner Martin Scorsese, Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Mick Jagger and Academy Award nominee and multiple Emmy winner Terence Winter, “Vinyl” (great name!) is a ride through the sex- and drug-addled music business of New York City in the ’70s at the dawn of punk, disco and hip-hop. Get in the groove: The HBO drama series kicks off its 10-episode season Sunday, February 14 from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT). The pilot was directed by Scorsese, from a story by Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter, and teleplay by Winter and George Mastras. The people in front of the cameras are top-notch: “Vinyl” stars two-time Emmy winner Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finestra, SAG Award nominee Olivia Wilde and multiple Emmy winner Ray Romano. HBO is allowing us to fill you in on the first episode; trust us, “Vinyl” is a winner.
New York City, 1973. Together with his partners, Richie Finestra, president of American Century Records, is on the verge of selling his struggling company to German Polygram, in a deal that includes an impending distribution agreement with Led Zeppelin. But after a disastrous meeting, it’s clear that the sale is in jeopardy.
Heading home to Greenwich, Connecticut, Richie takes a detour to an unplanned reunion with Lester Grimes (Ato Essandoh), a musical artist with whom he has a complicated history. With thoughts of Lester weighing on him, Richie heads to the office, where, in addition to the Led Zeppelin situation, he learns of another problem: Bombastic Frank “Buck” Rogers (Andrew Dice Clay), owner of a chain of radio stations, is about to boycott American Century due to a perceived slight by one of the label’s artists.
In crisis mode, Richie gives his A&R department the mandate to find new acts, prompting office assistant Jamie Vine (Juno Temple) to bring in The Nasty Bits, a proto-punk band unlike anything anyone has ever heard. Meanwhile, Richie enlists thuggish independent promotion man Joe Corso (Bo Dietl) to help with the Buck Rogers situation. After a three-day coke binge, Corso summons the sober Richie to Rogers’ home, where things go horribly awry.
Despite American Century’s troubles, Richie learns that Polygram has agreed to buy the company after all. That night, with both Lester and the Buck Rogers debacle on his mind, he goes violently off the wagon, trashing the den of his Connecticut home and severely jeopardizing his relationship with his wife, Devon (Olivia Wilde), and their two children.
Richie ultimately finds himself coked out and on his own, drawn by a crowd of young people to the Mercer Arts Center in Manhattan, where he sees The New York Dolls perform, a night that sets him on a completely new course.
It will zoom to the top of the Nielsen charts!