Deadwood: Still Dead

It's an annual event. Critics, bugged by passionate readers, ask HBO honchos about the odds for a "Deadwood" movie finale.

"Slim and none," says HBO co-president Richard Plepler, who's looking more and more like former HBO boss Chris Albrecht every day.

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Ian McShane as "Deadwood's" Al Swearingen, meanest man in the West.

Having failed with "John From Cincinnati" (even actress Chandra West, who played porn star mom Tina Blake, said the other day she had no idea what was going on), "Deadwood" creator and executive producer David Milch is hard at work on a new police series, Plepler said.

"Last of the Ninth," about New York City cops in the '70s, brings Milch back to the realm of his "Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue" successes. No start date for the series, which Milch is co-writing with "Blue" collaborator, and former NYPD cop, Bill Clark.

(West, like almost everybody who has worked with the brilliant, and eccentric, Milch, raved about the "John" creator: "It was absolutely a totally unique experience, unlike anything I've ever done before," she said. "So it was incredibly fun and interesting and challenging and everything you might think working with someone like David would be." So, confusing, too.)