Scorsese said he's been attracted to cable, specifically HBO, to make a foray into television because the medium is making long-form, narrative television that is "thoughtful, intelligent and brilliantly put together."
Broadcast television showed some promise in long-form in the 1960s, but that early promise was not realized in the 1970s and 80s, he told critics meeting in Beverly Hills. But cable offers that platform and Scorsese said that's why he's been tempted to become involved in television.
Scosese is executive-producing Boardwalk Empire, a drama series focusing on Prohibition era gangsters in Atlantic City.
Scorsese called prohibition a "noble experiment," noting that during the time frame of his movie Gangs of New York alcohol helped nearly decimate a society. The show is based on a novel of the same name which is being adapted by The Sopranos scribe, Terence Winter. The creators said the drama is "90% factual," noting the lead character, Nucky Johnson, is fictionalized. Winter said he didn't want people Googling a real lead character and get distracted from the HBO story.