The Black Donnellys

This article is about the 2007 NBC Television Program. For the notorious Canadian Donnelly Family, see Black Donnellys.
The Black Donnellys
Created by Paul Haggis
Robert Moresco
Developed by Scott Corwon
Paul Haggis
Starring Jonathan Tucker
Thomas Guiry
Olivia Wilde
Billy Lush
Michael Stahl-David
Kirk Acevedo
Keith Nobbs
Kate Mulgrew
Peter Greene
Michael Rispoli
Kevin Conway
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (7 aired online) (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Paul Haggis
Robert Moresco
Running time 46 minutes
Production company(s) Blackfriars Bridge
NBC Universal Television Studio
IMPACTS Entertainment
Distributor NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Original network NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release February 26 – April 2, 2007
External links

The Black Donnellys is an American television drama that debuted on NBC on February 26, 2007 and last aired on April 2, 2007. Thereafter, NBC began releasing new episodes weekly on until the series was officially cancelled. The Black Donnellys was created by Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco featured in the cast Jonathan Tucker, Olivia Wilde, Billy Lush, Tom Guiry, Kirk Acevedo, and relative newcomers Michael Stahl-David and Keith Nobbs.

The series follows four young Roman Catholic Irish-American brothers in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, and their involvement with petty and organized crime.[1] Set in the present day, the show draws heavily upon Irish-American history and iconic themes. The pilot episode illustrates a clear tension and rivalry between the Irish and the Italians. The episodes are narrated by a childhood friend, Joey "Ice Cream", whom the show depicts as an unreliable narrator.

In creating the show, Haggis, a native of London, Ontario, strongly referenced his hometown's local history about the real-life Black Donnellys and the massacre associated with their name. In the pilot episode, Joey says the neighborhood is populated primarily by "Black Irish", whom he calls "a race of dark-haired people" the Celts had failed to wipe out in Ireland. Hell's Kitchen in the series is also a fairly faithful depiction - a traditionally working-class neighborhood with a deeply entrenched ethnic Irish population and an Irish Mob with control over illegal gambling and loansharking, and heavy involvement in the unions. Although set in 2005, Hell's Kitchen is shown to be slowly overtaken by gentrification and development that threatens to displace the Irish population, a fate that Hell's Kitchen actually succumbed to in the early 1990s.

On April 2, 2007, NBC announced that the series would be pulled after the April 16 episode,[2] presumably because of insufficient viewership,[3] and that unaired episodes would be streamed online on as well as downloadable from iTunes. The show's NBC TV time slot was filled by the second and third episodes of the US version of Thank God You're Here on April 9 and 16, after which the time slot was filled by the series The Real Wedding Crashers.

On May 14, 2007, the series was officially cancelled by NBC.[4] On June 5, 2007, it was announced that HDNet had acquired the rights from NBC Universal to broadcast all 13 episodes of the series, beginning June 13, 2007.[5] A DVD entitled "The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series" was released on September 4, 2007.

Recently, the show has been picked up and has begun to air in several European countries. Paul Haggis attended and spoke at the Cologne Conference in Germany at which The Black Donnellys was screened.[6]

The cancelled Black Donnellys ranked second in shows streamed off of NBC's website, second only to's number one show Heroes.[7]


James "Jimmy" Donnelly (Tom Guiry) - The oldest of 4 brothers, Jimmy is a troublemaker and drug user, often involved in criminal activity, and known for making stupid decisions. He walks with a permanent limp, incurred when a speeding, runaway car crushed his leg, when he was young. (Jimmy does not know who was driving the car; only Joey Ice Cream and Tommy know that it was actually little Tommy.) Jimmy believes he should be the leader of the Donnelly brothers, but his constant temper flare-ups cause people to believe him incapable of leadership, so they follow Tommy. This constant battle for being in charge causes friction between the two brothers throughout the season.

Thomas "Tommy" Donnelly (Jonathan Tucker) - Tommy is the second oldest brother in the Donnelly family. He is known to step up as the leader of the four brothers and often cleans up his brothers' trouble-making messes. His care-taking nature stems from an incident in childhood when he ran over his brother Jimmy's leg after stealing a car. He promised God that if Jimmy walked again, he, Tommy, would take care of him thereafter. Tommy wants to become an artist, and has been going to art school. Huey Farrell, the boss of the Irish Mob, had been paying for his tuition. When Huey dies, the money is revoked by Huey’s brother Dokey Farrell, who suspects Tommy of killing his brother. Tommy is in love with Jenny Reilly, a childhood friend with whom he has a complicated and strained relationship. He struggles between taking care of his family and doing what he wants.

Kevin Donnelly (Billy Lush) - Kevin is the second youngest of the Donnelly brothers. He is a gambler whose gut instincts are extremely lucky. The problem is, he never follows his gut. He doubts every bet that he makes, and therefore loses every bet except one: the only bet he has won in his entire life occurred the day before his father died, when he asked Kevin to pick a horse to bet on in a horse race. The horse won, and as it was the last thing his father did with him, it caused Kevin to believe he is lucky. His gambling debt to Louie Downtown created the chain of events that lead to the season finale. Kevin is often caught between helping Tommy and Jimmy. He is very loyal to his brothers and is much more of a follower than a leader.

Sean "Seanny" Donnelly (Michael Stahl-David) - Seanny is the youngest of the brothers and is noted for his popularity with women. In the season premiere, Sean is severely beaten by Nicky Cottero in reaction to Jimmy's kidnapping of Louie Downtown. Sean would like to help his brothers with "business", but they try to keep him out of the loop to keep him safe.

Kate Mulgrew as Helen Donnelly.

Samson Dawlish (James Badge Dale) - A suitor of Jenny's who becomes obsessed. He works for a delivery service that serves Reilly's diner, and makes a point of delivering extra food for Jenny free of charge.

Robert "Bobby" Donnelly (John Bolger) - Bobby is the Donnelly brothers' deceased father. He and Huey were the bosses of the Irish neighborhood when the Donnelly brothers were kids, though Bobby was the head of the union local, a position that earned significant respect for himself and his family.

Helen Donnelly (Kate Mulgrew) - Helen is the Donnelly brothers' widowed mother. She watches out the most for young Sean, but she fiercely defends all her sons and turns a blind eye to their acts of revenge. While the boys feel she needs protecting, she gives hints of being much more capable and streetwise than they would ever guess.

Joey "Ice Cream" (Keith Nobbs) - Joey is the jailhouse narrator and a lifelong friend of the brothers. He is typically willing to help them out in their times of need. Something of a Scheherezade figure, he is a classic example of an unreliable narrator, revising his story frequently when called on iffy details.

Jenny Reilly (Olivia Wilde) - A childhood friend of Tommy and rest of the Donnelly boys', Jenny runs a local diner with her father. She and Tommy have a complicated and strained relationship. Jenny married a schoolteacher who, unbeknownst to her, stole from drug dealers to pay his student loans and ended up stuffed in an oil drum. No one has the heart to tell Jenny.

Nicky Cottero (Kirk Acevedo) - Nicky is an Italian gangster currently attempting to take over the area formerly controlled by his mentor, Sal. He befriends the Donnellys to try to take down both Dokey and Alo.

Derek Timothy "Dokey" Farrell (Peter Greene) - Dokey is an Irish gangster who controls his deceased older brother's turf. He gained the nickname Dokey while growing up and being reportedly "The King of the Hokey Pokey" = "Hokey-Pokey Dokey". He is known for carrying an axe and chopping off people's toes. He wants more than anything to gain the prestige and respect his brother had, but has trouble putting up with the aggression of the Italians and the wayward ways of the Donnellys.

Hugh William "Huey" Farrell (Chris Bauer) - Huey is an Irish gangster who formerly controlled the Irish neighborhood. He was killed in the pilot episode.

Louie Downtown (Joe D'Onofrio) - Louie Downtown is a low level bookie who doesn't mean anything to anyone, except that he's the nephew of the Italian mob boss Sal Minetta. Louie is kidnapped by Jimmy, Kevin, and Sean because Kevin owes him money. They hold Louie for ransom to the Italians, but when the Italians discover the Donnelly brothers are behind the kidnapping, Nicky Cottero severely beats Sean. In response to the attack, Jimmy shoots Louie to death.

Joanie (Betsy Beutler) - Joanie is Jimmy's drug addicted girlfriend. She seems to want a better life for herself and Jimmy but frequently backslides. She cheats on Jimmy with Whitey. When Jimmy finds out, he kills Whitey.

Nadine (Jamie Bonelli) - Nadine is Sean's love interest. She met Sean while selling him and Jimmy a jukebox for The Firecracker. She is helping Sean study for his GED.

Terrance "Whitey" Waylon (Kevin Corrigan) - Whitey is Bob the Mouth's nephew and Jimmy's business partner. Jimmy stabs him to death after discovering Whitey has been sleeping with Joanie and out of fear that he may have given up information to the police or Dokey.

Robert "Bob the Mouth" Kelly (Peter Gerety) - Bob is a neighborhood bookie and Terrance "Whitey" Waylon's uncle. He frequently "solves" his problems with a grill iron. Jimmy owes him money through Whitey.

Councilman Jack Trevor - Jack is the neighborhood's representative in the New York City Council. He is originally from the neighborhood and was cozy with Huey and Bobby Donnelly back in the day. He helped orchestrate Sal and Huey's real estate scheme and is having an affair with his chief of staff, Trish Hughes.

Detective Frank Stein (Ned Eisenberg) - Frank is a NYPD detective at the 28th Precinct. He arrests Jimmy for armed robbery in the pilot episode and is tasked with the Huey-Sal homicide case in the following episode. Unlike his colleague, Det. Geckel, he is not on Dokey's payroll, and it is implied he has been trying to build a case against the Irish Mob for a long time.


Main cast



No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. Viewers
1"Pilot"Paul HaggisPaul Haggis & Robert MorescoFebruary 26, 2007 (2007-02-26)7.93
Tommy, the Donnellys' only honest man, has to make a difficult choice — fight for his family or turn his back on them and keep to the straight and narrow – as he becomes embroiled in a plot hatched by his brother Jimmy to help out his brother Kevin. Kevin owes money to the wrong guys, and Jimmy tries to pay it off for him by abducting his bookie. Nicky Cottero, working for mob boss Sal takes matters into his own hands, leading to drastic consequences for the Donnelly brothers.
2"A Stone of the Heart"Paul HaggisKim Clements & Paul HaggisMarch 5, 2007 (2007-03-05)6.88
As Sean's fate becomes clear to the Donnelly siblings, an antsy Jimmy stews in a holding cell. Meanwhile, an unsettled Tommy finds comfort in Jenny as their friendship begins to morph into something more serious. Nicky grasps control of the Italian mob.
3"God Is a Comedian Playing to an Audience Afraid to Laugh"Dan LernerRobert Moresco & Jeff F. KingMarch 5, 2007 (2007-03-05)N/A
Kevin's attempts various ways to bail Jimmy out of jail, despite Tommy's protests. Meanwhile, due to a shortage of beds, Sean is moved out of ICU and Tommy desperately needs to find a way to get his brother back in. Dokey, Alo and Nicky come close to a confrontation.
4"The World Will Break Your Heart"Deran SarafianBob Lowry & Kim ClementsMarch 12, 2007 (2007-03-12)6.53
Tommy is plagued with guilt when Kate, widow of Irish mob kingpin Huey, asks him to host her slain husband's wake. Meanwhile, Kevin and Joey go on a quest to find booze for the wake; Huey's brother Dokey begins to suspect that drug-addled Jimmy may be his sibling's killer.
5"Lies"Gloria MuzioSean WhitesellMarch 19, 2007 (2007-03-19)5.53
Tommy realizes the Italian's new mob boss Nicky Cottero means business on collecting his debt when he threatens the boy's mother, Helen. After exhausting all options, Tommy takes Dokey's bribe and while visiting Huey's widow, steals a box that Dokey wants. Jimmy and Joey Ice Cream find the former Louie Downtown's cellphone and, after realizing he was running a gambling circuit, start to collect on his payments. Sean finally comes home from the hospital while Jenny wakes up after sleeping with Samson and gets blown off by Tommy when she tries to explain.
6"Run Like Hell"Ed SherinLaurie Hutzler & Gary LennonMarch 26, 2007 (2007-03-26)5.43
Tommy gets pulled into Jimmy and Kevin's bookmaking action when he realizes the guy about to get busted for not paying is his friend Maxwell. When Tommy decides to track the money down himself, he gets played by his friend and ultimately ends up doing the busting. As Jimmy has Kevin toss Louie Downtown's phone, we meet Whitey who helps him transfer the numbers — but a flash into the future shows this relationship is headed for trouble. Jenny discovers her father's medical condition when the diner deposits never make it to the bank.
7"The Only Thing Sure"David StraitonAllan SteeleApril 2, 2007 (2007-04-02)5.3
Tommy and Jimmy have a role-reversal when it's Jimmy who's painting the bar and protecting Sean from the business. Meanwhile, Tommy is collecting on payments with Kevin. A flashback to Kevin's childhood shows why he believes he's truly lucky as a gambler. Jenny struggles to maintain the family's diner and watch over her ailing father.
8"In Each One a Savior"Anthony HemingwayRafael Alvarez & Mick BetancourtApril 9, 2007 (2007-04-09)N/A
While Tommy helps a woman who wants to evict drug dealers from her building, he discovers that this simple thing is much more complicated then he thought. Meanwhile, Jimmy continues his attempts to take over the neighborhood and stoops to a new low when he demands payment from Jenny. During the meantime, Nicky finds out what really happened to Louie Downtown.
9"All of Us Are in the Gutter"TJ ScottAlissa Haggis & Amanda MorescoApril 16, 2007 (2007-04-16)N/A
Tommy is finally able to do the only thing he wants to do, art. With the help of Kate, he gets a job at an art studio. But when he thinks he's now able to separate himself from the "business" of his family, he learns that it won't happen. Nicky, who decided not to kill Kevin, wants to use Louie Downtown's cell phone and offers a partnership to the Donnellys but will only deal with Tommy.
10"When the Door Opens"Jeff F. KingRobert MorescoApril 23, 2007 (2007-04-23)N/A
Things go horribly wrong for the Donnellys when their loyalty is put to the test.
11"Wasn't That Enough?"Kevin BrayAlissa Haggis & Amanda MorescoApril 30, 2007 (2007-04-30)N/A
Tommy helps the Reillys after their diner is put up for eviction. Tommy and Kevin find out more about their father's past and how he died.
12"The Black Drop"Dan MinahanPaul Haggis & Sean WhitesellMay 7, 2007 (2007-05-07)N/A
Tommy finishes helping out the Reilly's get their eviction overturned. Meanwhile, he learns more about who killed his father. Jimmy tries to deal with Dokey on his own.
13"Easy Is the Way"Robert MorescoPaul Haggis & Sean WhitesellMay 14, 2007 (2007-05-14)N/A
Tommy tries to get his family and run away, before Dokey gets to them, but Jimmy has different plans for Dokey. Jenny ends the threats from Samson once and for all.

DVD release

TitleRegion 1Region 2Ep #Additional information
The Complete SeriesSeptember 4, 2007January 28, 200813Deleted Scenes, 6 Unaired Episodes.

International broadcasters

Country TV Network(s) Series Premiere Weekly Schedule
United States NBC February 26, 2007 Mondays, 10pm
 Canada Global Television Network February 26, 2007 Sundays, 10pm
Mondays, 10pm
 Finland Canal+, Sub September 2, 2007 Mondays, 11pm
 Germany TNT Serie September 5, 2007 Wednesdays, 8.15pm
 Ireland RTÉ Two August 14, 2007 Tuesdays, 11.20pm
 United Kingdom ITV2 (part of XXL Thursday) September 27, 2007 Thursdays, 11pm
(originally 9pm)
 Spain Canal+, Calle 13 and MTV Spain October 11, 2007 Thursdays, 9.30pm
 Mexico AXN November 5, 2007 Mondays, 8.00pm
 Argentina AXN November 6, 2007 Tuesday, 8.00pm
 Brazil AXN November 6, 2007 Tuesday, 9.00pm
 Peru AXN November 6, 2007 Tuesday, 8.00pm
 Thailand Star World 2007 Sundays, 9pm (THAI/WIB)
 Slovenia POP TV January 2, 2008 Wednesday, 10.45pm
 Australia Showcase May 21, 2008 Wednesday, 9.30pm
 Portugal Fox Crime
May, 2008 Wednesdays
 Sweden Kanal 5 June 1, 2008 Sunday, 9.55pm
 Chile MEGA June 23, 2008 Monday, 01.30am
 Italy Italia1 September 8, 2008 Sunday, 0.35am
 Russia The Star October 13, 2008 Monday-Thursday, 10.40pm
 India Star World November 2008
 New Zealand C4 December 29, 2008 Monday, 8.30pm
 Hungary TV2 (Hungary), Viasat6 January 7, 2009 Wednesdays, after 11.00pm
 Belgium Canvas March 23, 2009 Mondays, 11.45pm
 Belgium La Deux May 2010 Sundays, 8.30pm
 Netherlands RTL 7 April 10, 2009 Fridays, 9.25pm
 Croatia Nova TV November 5, 2009 Monday-Thursday, 01.20am
 Greece Alter Channel April 2010 Saturday-Sunday, 03.00am


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