Coming into his new NBC drama "The Black Donnellys," Paul Haggis has two Oscars, plenty of clout and James Bond at his side. But he doesn't have Pants, and that's a problem.
"Donnellys," a drama about four Irish-American brothers who get in and out of trouble in an unnamed New York neighborhood, is essentially Haggis' attempt to redo "EZ Streets." A potboiler starring Ken Olin, Jason Gedrick and Hoboken's own Joe "Joey Pants" Pantoliano, "EZ Streets" aired for a few months on CBS in the '96-'97 season, with its audience composed largely of adoring TV critics.
Haggis didn't have the muscle to keep "EZ Streets" on the air back then, but thanks to "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash" and "Casino Royale" and the 12 dozen big-ticket movies he's either writing or script-doctoring at the moment, he was able to try something similar with a younger cast. The shows share a grand visual style, generous use of Celtic music on the soundtrack, and a mix of black comedy and operatic tragedy. Haggis even admitted recently that when he first pitched "Donnellys" to CBS back in '96, Les Moonves grumbled, "Hold on, I just canceled this show."
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