Talk about number one with a bullet.
History’s new miniseries, “Hatfields & McCoys,” snared nearly 14 million viewers Monday night to become the top-rated non-sports telecast in basic-cable history.
And for a series which reportedly took 20 years to convince someone to put on TV, it’s paid handsome dividends.
“The script had been in development for quite a while,” says History president Nancy Dubuc, who’s also an executive producer on the miniseries.
“One of the things that was overwhelming when I first read the script was that there wasn’t a good guy and a bad guy,” she says. “The nuances are fascinating.”
The three-part miniseries about the feuding Kentucky and West Virginia families — starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe and Mare Winningham — aired again last night and concludes tonight.
But it wasn’t always intended to unfold that way, Dubuc says.
“We set out to do two nights and four hours . . . and had a suspicion that the script would support more than four hours,” she says.
“The decision [to add two additional hours] was made two-thirds of the way through shooting . . . when everyone got back [from Romania].”
Dubuc says she thinks the miniseries attracted so many viewers because people can sympathize with characters on both sides of the feud, which began in the 1860s and claimed over a dozen family members on both the Hatfield and McCoy sides.
“You go on this journey with them and there’s much more sympathy over time,” Dubuc says.
“Imagine how deep that vengeance must have run. It gives new meaning to the idea of bad neighbors.”