Mike, do you feel that these days you can actually do bolder things on television than you can in film?
Nichols: I do, yes. It has to do with HBO, it’s as simple as that. We love HBO and we love the freedom that there is on HBO, and the power. And what is that power? It’s economic. You know, we’re run by market forces—the fact that an outfit can make a billion dollars a year just sitting there collecting its subscriptions. It’s an economic basis that affords us this freedom.
HBO’s economic freedom is just one of the many topics of discussion over at Newsweek, where Mike Nichols, Tony Kushner, and their cast are talking up Angels in America. In preparation for the big premiere, I called my cable provider last week to find out how much it would cost to add just HBO to my basic service package. “You’re new monthly bill will be $61.50,” the surprisingly helpful saleswoman told me. “Or,” she paused, tying her carrot to the stick, “for just a few dollars more, we can upgrade you to digital cable and throw in the full compliment of HBO/Showtime channels, plus an additional tier of your choice.”
So, of course, I now have digital cable.