Archive for category: Television

A Final Thank You To Those Who Watched

10 Mar
March 10, 2008

FROM HBO.COM

On the occasion of airing The Wire’s last episode

March 2008

A last thank you to those HBO subscribers who took the time and care to accompany us on this journey. The Wire arrived six years ago to little fanfare and modest expectation. It demanded from viewers a delicate, patient consideration and a ridiculous degree of attention to detail.

It wasn’t for everyone. We proved that rather quickly.

But episode to episode, you began to understand that we were committed to creating something careful and ornate, something that might resonate. You took Lester Freamon at his word: That we were building something here and all the pieces matter.

When we took a chainsaw to the first season, choosing to begin the second-story arc with an entirely different theme and different characters, you followed us to the port and our elegy for America’s working class. When we shifted again, taking up the political culture of our mythical city in season three, you remained loyal. And when we ended the Barksdale arc and began an exploration of public education, you were, by that time, we hope, elated to understand that whatever else might happen, The Wire would not waste your time telling the same story twice.

This year, our drama asked its last thematic question: Why, if there is any truth to anything presented in The Wire over the last four seasons, does that truth go unaddressed by our political culture, by most of our mass media, and by our society in general?

We’ve given our answer:

We are a culture without the will to seriously examine our own problems. We eschew that which is complex, contradictory or confusing. As a culture, we seek simple solutions. We enjoy being provoked and titillated, but resist the rigorous, painstaking examination of issues that might, in the end, bring us to the point of recognizing our problems, which is the essential first step to solving any of them.

The Wire is fiction. Many of the events depicted over the last five seasons did not, to our knowledge, happen. Fewer happened in the exact manner described. Fiction is fiction, and it should in no way be confused with journalism.

But it is also fair to note that the problems themselves — politicians cooking crime stats for higher office, school administrators teaching test questions to vindicate No Child Left Behind, sensitive prosecutions and investigations being undercut for political motives, brutal drug wars fought amid a police department’s ignorance of and indifference to the forces involved — were indeed problems in the recent history of the actual Baltimore, Maryland.

Few of these matters received the serious attention — or, in some cases — any attention from the media. These problems exist in plain sight, ready to be addressed by anyone seriously committed to doing so. For those of us writing The Wire, a television drama, story research involved dragging the right police lieutenants or school teachers, prosecutors and political functionaries to neighborhood diners and bars and taking story notes down on cocktail napkins and paper placemats. To be more precise with their tales? To record it and relay it in a manner that can stand as non-fiction truthtelling? Yes, that’s harder to do. But there was a time when journalism regarded that kind of coverage as its highest mission. The true stories that The Wire traded in are out there, waiting for anyone willing to take the time. And it is, of course, vaguely disturbing to us that our unlikely little television drama is making arguments that were once the prerogative of more serious mediums.

We tried to be entertaining, but in no way did we want to be mistaken for entertainment. We tried to provoke, to critique and debate and rant a bit. We wanted an argument. We think a few good arguments are needed still, that there is much more to be said and it is entirely likely that there are better ideas than the ones we offered. But nothing happens unless the shit is stirred. That, for us, was job one.

If you followed us for sixty hours, and you find yourself caring about these issues more than you thought you would, then perhaps the next step is to engage and to demand, where possible, a more sophisticated and meaningful response from authority when it comes to such things as the drug war, educational reform or responsible political leadership. The Wire is about the America we pay for and tolerate. Perhaps it is possible to pay for, and demand, something more.

Again, accept our sincere thanks for making the commitment to watch a show as improbable and problematic as ours and for considering the arguments and issues seriously. We are surprised as you are to be here at the end, on our own terms, still standing. As a cast and crew, we’re proud. But the credit is not all ours. It’s yours as well for believing, year after year, in this story.

David Simon
Baltimore, Md.
March 10, 2008

Down To the Wire

11 Feb
February 11, 2008

Almost six years after “the best show on TV” began, the man behind the series comes clean about why he did what he did.

From Baltimore Magazine, Feb. 2008
Reprinted with permission.
David Simon, The Wire. Credit: Frank Stockton

ART CREDIT: FRANK STOCKTON

“We want to be out of The Wire business,” says the mayor of Baltimore, repeating the affirmation that began this call twenty minutes ago, stalling us in the Safeway parking lot on Boston Street.

I am curbside at the grocery, caught between a cup of carryout coffee and an afternoon writer’s meeting, cellphone hard against my ear, playing liar’s poker with a politician.

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Best Deleted Scene from The Wire Fifth Season

19 Sep
September 19, 2007

Reprinting with permission, The CityPaper, Baltimore, Sept 19, 2007

We received the below in an e-mail from The Wire co-creator/executive producer/writer David Simon on Labor Day, the Monday after shooting for the show’s fifth and final season concluded the previous Friday. It’s a four-page insert scene the writing staff intimated was coming on the penultimate day of shooting, adding more work to an already packed final production day. According to Simon, rumors of the additional pages started seeping from the production office to the set, instigating some minor grumbling about cramming yet more scenes into a final episode that Simon suggests is already about 50 percent longer than ordinary. But everybody reacted professionally to the schedule changes–assistant directors inquired about what the actors needed, production managers ordered additional film, cast members were told where they needed to be to work on dialogue. And then the pages arrived and as cast and crew read through the scene it slowly became apparent, amid growing laughter, what the pages actually were–a sly thank you from the writing staff to the entire cast and crew responsible for five seasons of one of the finest dramas the small screen has ever seen.

Insert scene: A60-

FOR PRODUCTION, TO FILM 8/31.

 

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM #1/HOMICIDE UNIT – NIGHT

BUNK, MCNULTY sit, worried. A long beat of frustrated silence before MCNULTY leans back in his chair, speaks.

MCNULTY

If they were going to do me, I’d be done already.

BUNK

Now, later. They’re gonna do you.

MCNULTY

I’m not so sure.

BUNK

You really think we need to discuss this some more? Whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen.

MCNULTY

What are you saying?

BUNK

I’m not sure this conversation is going anywhere, Jimmy.

MCNULTY thinks on this, nods.

BUNK

I’m sayin’ this like that song by whatshersame, you know? Whatever the fuck is gonna be is gonna be.

MCNULTY

Doris Day.

BUNK

Say what?

MCNULTY

Doris Day. Que-sera-sera?

BUNK

The fuck are you going on about, motherfucker?

MCNULTY

That’s the song. Que Sera Sera, by Doris Day. Whatever will be will be.

BUNK

The shit that’s clogged up in your fuckin’ head. Amazing.

MCNULTY

You brought up the song, bitch. I’m here trying to figure out whether or not I’m gonna get done and you’re talking in gay-ass clichés.

BUNK

You ain’t goin’ to get done.

MCNULTY

How do you know?

BUNK

How do I know?

MCNULTY

Yeah. Which god came down to Baltimore and gave you the power to see the motherfuckin’ future. This is my life on the line here.

BUNK

Calm the fuck down.

MCNULTY

How can I?

BUNK

Look, you know the rest of the story.

MCNULTY

I do?

BUNK

Motherfucker, they done moved the whole script. And you read to the end of this shit, right?

MCNULTY

I know what it says so far, but all these fucking revisions. They’re up to cherry-colored pages . . .

BUNK

Buff.

MCNULTY

What?

BUNK

Buff pages. Last revision was buff.

MCNULTY

Fuck buff. These pages right here are second white.

BUNK

That’s what I’m sayin’, Jimmy, we’re far along in the process here.

MCNULTY

But they could still revise it more. Like this scene here . . .

BUNK

They ain’t gonna shoot this bitch.

MCNULTY

You sure?

BUNK

Motherfucker, they lookin’ at a seven-and-a-half page day tomorrow already. Simon tries to add this shit to that sked and the crew will bank his white ass.

MCNULTY

I dunno. I think that cocksucker has been asking for impossible shit so long, he just figures . . .

BUNK

He is a motherfucker, but Jimmy, this one would go too far.

MCNULTY

So we’re done?

BUNK

Done. These pages ain’t gonna actually get shot, Jimmy.

MCNULTY

So we’re just talking here.

BUNK

Talkin’ shit about ourselves for ourselves. We a drunkass pair of meta motherfuckers right now.

MCNULTY

I love the way you say shit like that.

BUNK

Well, it’s the script.

MCNULTY

But you make the shit sound good.

BUNK

I do.

MCNULTY

Profane, but poetic.

BUNK

Yeah, fuck.

MCNULTY

Motherfuck.

BUNK

Fuck me.

MCNULTY

Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck.

BUNK

Aw fuck.

MCNULTY

Yeah. Fuck, yeah.

On MCNULTY and BUNK, nodding in fucking affirmation of just how fucking good The Wire crew is, just how fucking grateful the writers are, how there is not–we repeat, not–another scene remaining that we could ask you to shoot,

FADE TO:

THE END

Busted: Confessing to Crimes of Fashion

15 Jan
January 15, 1988

This ran as an essay that accompanied photographs of “Homicide,” “NYPD Blue” and “Law & Order” actors dressed magnificently.  My own attempts at the sartorial are no longer even comic to those who know me.  In fact, the only hyperbole in the piece is that I gave Terry McLarney more credit for being anything more than a kindred soul.  McLarney once confided to me that when he had to iron one of his own shirts, he only did the front:  “With a sportscoat, that’s all they’re ever gonna see anyway.”

DS

 

FROM DETAILS MAGAZINE -1994

Reprinted with permission.

Investigations Division: a cubicle containing two chairs, a couple of filing cabinets, and a government-issue desk. Behind that desk sits Colonel Richard Lanham, who is giving me official notice that the Baltimore Police Department will allow me to shadow a shift of homicide detectives for a year and then write a book about it.

“With certain stipulations,” says the colonel. “First, you agree to follow departmental rules and regulations at all times. Second, you obtain signed releases from any officer named in your book. Third . . .”

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