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Thread: Interview with David Simon-writer of HBOs The Wire

  1. #1
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    The Wire's Murderer's Row

    David Simon puts together an all-noir team for season three


    Series creator David Simon says he didn't set out to assemble a dream team of novelists to write for 'The Wire.' So how did he end up landing Richard Price ('Clockers,' 'Samaritan&#39, Dennis Lehane ('Mystic River&#39 and George Pelecanos ('Soul Circus&#39 on the show's writing staff?

    "It started at the end of the first season when I gave George Pelecanos a call," he says. Pelecanos's work, which includes bestsellers like 'The Sweet Forever' and 'Right as Rain' was recommended to Simon by a friend. "She said, 'You've gotta read this guy, he's digging in the same mine you are, but in Washington instead of East Baltimore.'"

    Simon borrowed a couple of Pelecanos's books and was immediately taken. "It was just wonderful," he says. "Very smart. Very much extending the crime genre into literary fiction. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see if he wanted to try an episode."


    “I said, 'I got Pelecanos, Price and Lehane. Who do you want next year, Philip Roth?'.”

    Pelecanos, who had a substantial film background himself, was interested, and Simon and fellow executive producer Ed Burns were soon trying to convince him to come on staff for the show's second season. "We had to consider that he has another full-fledged career as a novelist," Simon says. "He's putting out a book a year, and he has to tour to support the book. But we made it work."

    Later that same year, Pelecanos and Simon went to see Richard Price read from his novel 'Samaritan.' "That night, George said, 'You know, we ought to try to get him to write a couple of episodes,'" says Simon. "It would have been the height of arrogance, except that, hey, I got George the previous year, so what the hell?"

    Price, who has had a storied screenwriting career-he was nominated for an Oscar for 'The Color of Money'- in addition to his influential work as a novelist, was someone Simon had long respected. "I had met him years ago, because his editor on 'Clockers' was my editor on 'Homicide,'" Simon says. "I really admired that book. It unearthed an entire world that had never been contemplated by the literary world. 'Clockers' paved the way for a lot of the split point of view that 'The Wire' relies upon."

    When Price agreed to join the team, Simon and Pelecanos decided to go after one more big fish. "Once he came on, then we said, alright, now we can go get Dennis Lehane, you know," Simon says with a laugh. Lehane, whose celebrity was soaring with 'Mystic River''s Oscar run, agreed to join in and write an episode. "I was joking with the other executive producer, Bob Colesberry," Simon says. "I said, 'I got Pelecanos, Price and Lehane. Who do you want next year, Philip Roth? You got him.'"

    The draw for the high-wattage writing talent, Simon says, is ability to control the final product. "This is a writer's show," he says. "If you're already telling stories in the medium of a novel, the equivalent is a long form season on HBO. I think part of the appeal for someone like Richard, who's had a very long and successful career as a screenwriter, is that here the writers are in control. It's not like in features, where once you turn in the script, it's the director and the studio and the stars who exert influence."


    “It's not going to be a hilarious love fest. But it's a hassle worth having, if nothing else for the sheer experiment of it. If we fall on our ass, then we won't do it again.”

    For season three, Simon will write three episodes, Pelecanos, Price and Ed Burns will write two episodes each, and Lehane, Joy Lusco Kecken and Rafael Alvarez will write one each. "The trick is finding a story that everyone wants to tell a piece of, and still feel connected to the whole," says Simon. "It's like we're building a building, You don't want anyone to feel like, 'Well, I can't control the other floors, but the third floor of this building is really beautiful."

    Having seen how involved Pelecanos got last season-he offered "very smart, very cohesive notes" on the scripts he didn't write - Simon is confident that everyone will pull together in the name of the story. "There's sort of healthy and affectionate competition. You know, who has what in what episode, and what you pull off in terms of dialog," he says. "It doesn't mean that we aren't going to give each other notes and get into arguments. It's not going to be a hilarious love fest. But it's a hassle worth having, if nothing else for the sheer experiment of it. If we fall on our ass, then we won't do it again."

  2. #2
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    That is the best show on TV. And they've got three of the best crime/mystery/neo-noir writers on their staff for this season...Cant wait.

  3. #3
    Agreed...this is hands down the best show, and most people haven't even heard of it.

    Can't wait. The main reason I get excited for Sopranos and Sizx Feet Under is that getting them out of the way means I can watch The Wire again!

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