In today’s episode of Bingeworthy, our TV and streaming podcast hosts Mike DeAngelo, and Rodrigo Perez set their sights on the new mob dramedy from Paramount+, “Tulsa King.” The Sylvester Stallone-led show centers on Dwight “The General” Manfredi, a New York Mafia capo who just completed a 25-year prison sentence and is exiled by his bosses to start his own territory in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The series also stars Andrea Savage, Martin Starr, Jay Will, Garrett Hedlund, and Domenick Lombardozzi.
Joining our co-host, Rodrigo Perez, to discuss the show is writer/showrunner Terence Winter, who made his name on other famous mobster shows like “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire.” The series was created by Taylor Sheridan (“Yellowstone”), who also wrote the pilot episode, but handed over the reins to Winter, who attested that he made the show his own with little outside input – even from Sheridan himself.
“[Taylor’s] original version took place in Kansas City, and the original incarnation of the character had not been in prison. He was more like a low-level thug,” Winter said. “I thought it would be more interesting if, like, ‘What if the guy was getting out of jail after twenty-five years and he was estranged from his family, and he’s really at odds with his mob family?” So, just create as much conflict as possible. So, I pitched all of this to Taylor, and he said, ‘Great! Go do your thing. It’s your baby. I just have visitation rights.’ And I did – I literally have only spoken to Taylor twice in my entire life. I had that zoom call [to pitch the show], and then I met him in person right before we started production. We had a great dinner, and then I went off and did my thing.”
The series is a surprisingly funny concept that produces plenty of laughs, but, as Terence Winter explains, the big themes that Stallone’s character wrestles with are what made the project something special.
“The premise was great, and I knew I could have a lot of fun with the idea that this is a fish out of water,” Winter said. “But the idea of a 75-year-old man, a guy in the twilight of his years who is now rethinking all of his life’s choices. You know, that oath he took, that organization that he believed in with all his heart – now realizing that, ‘Oh, maybe they don’t have my best interest in mind. All of that is bullshit, and that big code that I adhered to is now meaningless. They’re not taking care of me. I gave up everything. I’m estranged from my daughter. I only have a limited amount of time left to make something of my life and rectify the sins of my past. And, I’m still a gangster, and I have very limited skills and limited conflict resolution skills, and I’m in the middle of nowhere, and I have to make my way.’ So, that’s the thing I wanted to sink my teeth into, like, what is this guy thinking?”
You’ll recall that earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece that “Yellowstone” season five would tee up “Tulsa King,” suggesting some kind of crossover, in the same way that “Yellowstone” season four teed up “1883,” and included scenes from the show. Whatever that plan might have once been, Winter clarified that “Tulsa King” currently has no plans to crossover with “Yellowstone” and is its own independent thing.
The first two episodes of “Tulsa King” are now streaming on Paramount+, with new episodes premiering each Sunday. You can listen to the full interview with Terence Winter below.
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