The HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" is a critical and popular hit. But how does Nelson Johnson, whose book of the same name was the source for the program, feel about it?

"What I understood very early on from a conversation with [series creator] Terence Winter was that my book was the 'inspiration,' not the basis, for what they were doing," said Johnson. He added he has no problem with the license Winter and his writers have taken with the material. For instance, the show's lead character is Nucky "Thompson," not "Johnson," and actor Steve Buscemi, who portrays him, is neither as young nor as physically imposing as Johnson was in the 1920s.

"It's entertaining, and it's generally historically accurate, but they are [presenting] aspects of people's lives [about which] we have no way of knowing whether it's accurate," the author said. "It didn't happen that way, but it is storytelling."

Johnson described the show's lead character as "70 percent my Nucky and 30 percent [Winter's] Nucky, and I'll take it."

And who would Johnson have preferred played Nucky? "Although they're probably too old," he offered, "either Nick Nolte or John Lithgow."

- Chuck Darrow