Milch: 'Deadwood' Movies Still Alive

Following the unceremonious end of "Deadwood" as a series last summer, a number of the show's fans declared that they wouldn't be watching creator David Milch's new show, "John from Cincinnati" -- because it's not "Deadwood."

Milch, naturally, hopes those people will eventually change their minds. And it sounds as if those fans may yet get a conclusion to the saga of Al Swearengen, Seth Bullock et al.

"The first thing I'd say to them is thanks for appreciating the work that we've done," Milch said Friday during a session for "John from Cincinnati" at the winter press tour in Pasadena. "And you know, I spent a significant portion of yesterday in collaboration with Evan Wright, who's a wonderful writer, with whom I'm doing the first of the two 'Deadwood' two-hour films. And we're very optimistic about the outcome of that work."

After plans for a fourth season of "Deadwood" fell apart last year, HBO and Milch reached a deal to produce a pair of two-hour films to wrap up the story. There has been some skepticism about whether the movies will actually get made, but Milch is optimistic.

"We have every intention of going forward," he says. He hopes to start work on the first film this summer, after "John" finishes production on its first season. Wright is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and author of the book "Generation Kill" about the Iraq war.

Of reports that he had intended for "Deadwood" to run four seasons, Milch has this to say: "You know, the big thing to keep in mind when you hear those sorts of statements that I had planned on a fourth season on this -- I'm a sociopath. You know, someone asked me, how long do you intend to do 'Deadwood'? And as part of my sociopathology, I say, 'Well, when does my contract run out?' And I realize my contract ran out at the end of four seasons. So I'm thinking, 'How does the kid exert the most leverage in the negotiating package for four seasons?' ...

"So the answer is, I never had a specific -- listen, when I pitched 'Deadwood,' I pitched it as a series set in Rome at the time of the Nero. Does that sound like I know what I'm talking about?"

That said, he realizes that the "abrupt rupture" of the end of "Deadwood" affected the show's fans, just as it did him and the cast and crew.

"But you know, there are certain rooms where one frequently hears the expression 'life on life's terms.' ... We're going to put 'John From Cincinnati' on, and it's my deepest hope that, in the scheme of things, enough forgiveness is available from those viewers to just give it a chance. And if I'm given strength and time, we're definitely going to do more 'Deadwoods.'"