Martin Scorsese, Gretchen Mol and Steve
Dave Allocca/StarTraks Photo

Anticipation and sadness mixed in the air as audiences at New York’s massive Ziegfeld theater waited to see the first episode of the fifth and final cycle of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”  Attendees were eager to get their eyes on a new episode, but also aware that their next view of the program would be one of their last.

“This is a bittersweet evening for all of us,” said Richard Plepler, chairman and chief executive of the Time Warner-owned premium-cable outlet, noting the admiration executives at the network had for the series, which chronicles the often-illegal efforts by bootlegger Nucky Thompson while attempting to depict the ups and downs of a broader Prohibition-era America.

The show’s creative lead agreed. “I am very happy and very sad to be welcoming you here tonight.” said Terence Winter, the creator and executive producer of the series.

Attendees were treated to a lush episode, in turns charming and violent. Some seated in the theater may even say the show was ear-splitting, but you’ll have to watch it for yourself to learn the reason why.

Supporters were able to drown their sorrows during an afterparty held at New York’s Cipriani restaurant, which was festooned by bathing beauties in the sort of swimwear one might wear during a trip to Atlantic City (the center of the series’ action) and a replica boardwalk.

And cast members Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Wright weren’t the only well-known folks in attendance. CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and Joe Kernen — hosts of morning show “Squawk Box”  were also spotted on the red carpet and elsewhere. Clearly, the lure of the booze and intrigue at the center of the series can attract even those whose business it is to get up early in the morning.

(Pictured: Martin Scorsese, Gretchen Mol and Steve Buscemi at the “Boardwalk Empire” premiere)

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