The Otherworld of 'The Black Donnellys'
Such a place exists outside of normal space and time, and there's a bit of that working in
On its surface, the show, created by "Crash" partners Bobby Moresco (who, despite the Italian name, is three-quarters Irish) and Canadian-born
Also populating the neighborhood are a local girl (Olivia Wilde), a less-than-reliable storyteller (Keith Nobbs) and an ambitious Italian-American mobster (
But the Hell's Kitchen they all live in hasn't really existed for 20 years, since the Irish mob called the Westies finally lost its decades-long grip on an area roughly between 34th and 59th Streets, from Eighth Avenue to the
In fact, many real-estate developers prefer these days to call it "Clinton."
While we're on the subject of names, "The Black Donnellys" also refers to a notorious "black Irish" (a term used by some Irish whose dark looks may be traceable to Spanish blood) clan in Ontario, Canada, which was ultimately murdered by local vigilantes.
That is not this story, but Haggis says, "As we wrote, the tragedy of these characters started to bubble up, and the similarities started to come. We're not telling the story of the 'Black Donnellys' from southern Ontario, but we are telling ... a tragedy. And we're hopefully doing it with a lot of humor."
Also inspiring the show are Moresco's memories of growing up in Hell's Kitchen during the final heydays of the Westies.
But this is not his story.
"So," says Moresco, "can anybody say these things really happened? No. Did a lot of things like this really happen? Absolutely. Were there any real characters? No. Were there characters like this? Everywhere. So you take those elements and you turn it into what you're working on."
So, as to what story "The Black Donnellys" actually is, Moresco says, "This is a coming-of-age story about kids who grew up in a world of the mob that they don't belong in. They're four kids. They don't know what they're doing there, and yet they can't find their way out. They keep trying to dig their way out, but it's just not going to happen.
"They can't get out because of past sins, both their own and their father's. How do you escape past sins? You keep trying. People say it's easy, but it's not."