SOURCE: Deadwood Chamber

June 01, 2005 19:39 ET

There Could Be Trouble!

Half the Cast of HBO's Hell-Razin' Series Is Headed for the Black Hills

DEADWOOD, SD -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 1, 2005 -- What happens when half the cast of a rip-roarin' western television series comes to town? No one seems to know, but the sheriff is buyin' more rope.

Thirteen members of the cast of HBO's popular dramatic series "Deadwood" are headed for this fabled Black Hills community June 24-26, where they'll revel in the gold rush town's rich and rough history, play some cards, tickle the ivories and take in the color of the real town they portray on the small screen every Sunday night.

"Frankly, we're not sure what to expect," George Milos, director of the local chamber of commerce, says with a nervous laugh. "But we invited them all and more than half agreed to come. It could be like inviting the James Gang over for dinner. There could be trouble."

"Deadwood," already renewed for next year and has drawn much notice, most recently from the Peabody Awards. The awards, which aim to recognize the best of the electronic media, made "Deadwood" their only U.S. fictional series honored this year, citing the way it "twists the conventions of the western into an excruciating knot of history and imagined events."

When a wave of miners, madams and muleskinners descended on Deadwood in 1876, some historians say there was a death a day in the gold-filled gulch. Today, it's decidedly more visitor-friendly and $170 million in historic preservation efforts over the last 15 years have given travelers a new reason to stop by the town, located an hour north of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Visitors are greeted by brick-lined streets, period lights, historic trolleys and Victorian architecture not commonly associated with the Wild West. Deadwood is one of only a handful of towns designated a National Historic Landmark. Its transformation from gold-rush town to tourist destination was achieved through an unlikely benefactor -- gaming -- and the town sports 80 small casinos.

"We believe our friends from HBO will be pleasantly surprised by the real Deadwood," says Mayor Francis Toscana. "It's a great place with a future as colorful as its past. We're kind of counting on them to bring the color."

According to W. Earl Brown, who plays Swearingen-goon Dan Dority in the series, color shouldn't be a problem.

"I had such a great time in Deadwood last year that I couldn't wait to return," said Brown, whose film credits include "Something About Mary" and "Alamo." "Except this time, I'm bringing more of the cast with me. We're a good-time bawdy bunch, as any Friday night visit to our set will attest. By the way, has the town rescinded that 19th century ordinance against cussing in public?"

And what happens if things get a bit rowdy?

"Deadwood has been hosting rebellious revelers for well over a century," says Police Chief Kelly Fuller. "We'll be ready for them, even if it means buying more rope."

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