Empire Falls (miniseries)

Empire Falls
DVD cover of Empire Falls
Written byRichard Russo (novel and teleplay)
Directed byFred Schepisi
StarringEd Harris
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Helen Hunt
Paul Newman
Robin Wright Penn
Aidan Quinn
Joanne Woodward
Narrated byLarry Pine
Theme music composerPaul Grabowsky
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)William Teitler
CinematographyIan Baker
Editor(s)Kate Williams
Running time195 minutes (8 chapters)
Production company(s)Aspetuck Productions
Stone Village Pictures
HBO Films
Original networkHBO
Original releaseMay 28, 2005 (2005-05-28)

Empire Falls is a two-part American television miniseries that aired on HBO in the fall of 2005. It is based on the eponymous 2001 novel by Richard Russo. The miniseries was nominated for and won multiple awards, including various Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. It is directed by Fred Schepisi.


Set in the small, decaying, nearly bankrupt town of Empire Falls, Maine, this is the story of Miles Roby, the unassuming manager of the Empire Grill, who has spent his entire life in the town.

He has an ex-wife, Janine, who has become a cocky, selfish bachelorette after losing weight and exercising rigorously. This is partly due to encouragement from Walt Comeau, an antagonistic fitness center owner who visits the Empire Grill every day and has moved into Roby's old house by this point.

Roby also has a loving teenage daughter, nicknamed "Tick", who is dealing with Zack Minty, her cruel ex-boyfriend, plus an emotional conflict over her mother's engagement to Walt, whom Tick despises. In addition, she has a complicated friendship with John Voss, an emotionally disturbed boy at school whose hard-luck story is known all too well around town. The obnoxious jock Zack and his friends constantly bully John.

Other important people in Miles' life include Max, his grubby ne'er-do-well father, a rascal who can't resist a handout when it comes his way; David, Miles' reformed marijuana smoking brother, who is a talented Empire Grill cook; Bea, Miles' good-hearted ex-mother-in-law, who owns a bar; the town's wealthiest woman, a condescending matron who owns the Empire Grill; that woman's daughter, who has loved Miles for many years; an attractive waitress; a retiring police chief; and a dimwitted police officer, who is Zack's father and has known Miles since childhood.

Miles is plagued by flashbacks of his family when he was a child, including a mysterious affair between his mother and a suitor, the details of which might answer some questions Miles has had his entire life.