David Milch, creator of HBO’s “Deadwood,” said he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in an interview published Tuesday.
The 74-year-old Emmy winner, whose film followup to his “Deadwood” television series is set to premiere on HBO in May, opened up about living with the disease in an interview with Vulture.
“As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain,” he told Vulture. “And it’s progressive. And in some ways discouraging. In more than some ways — in every way I can think of.”
A brain scan confirmed the diagnosis a year ago, but Milch began to realize something wasn’t right four years earlier when friends and family noticed his “imperfect recall and tardy recall and short temper,” he said. “I became more and more of an acquired taste.”
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The “Deadwood” movie takes place 10 years after the end of the TV series, which was canceled after three seasons in 2006. While filming the upcoming film, he took a step back from his micromanagement of the original series, during which he was known to hand actors freshly rewritten lines just before cameras started rolling, according to Vulture. This time, director Daniel Minahan and co-executive producer Regina Corrado oversaw day-to-day production.
Milch believes his own father had Alzheimer’s at end of his life, though he was never diagnosed. “He was not well toward the end of his life,” Milch said. “He was every day encountering subtle differences in his condition. But there was an unflinching dignity in the way that he carried himself and a bravery and kindness.”
HBO has offered its support to Milch during this time. “We treasure our relationship with David Milch, a beloved and long-standing member of the HBO family,” the network said in a statement. “We honor David’s privacy and stand by his side in every way as he faces this challenge.”
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Milch told Vulture that he plans to keep writing despite his condition. “I compare it to a musician who can still play and has access to the memory of how to do that and is still able to exercise his talent,” said his wife Rita. “The brain is David’s most exercised muscle.”