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HBO’s ‘The Wire’ Explores Troubled Side of Baltimore

Jeffrey Brown reports on the HBO series "The Wire," which looks at the troubled streets of Baltimore through an unusual lens, and talks to creator David Simon about his attempt to break the traditional "cop show" genre.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, the troubled streets of one American city, as seen through a very special lens. Jeffrey Brown reports.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The cop show is one of the great chestnuts of American television, but "The Wire" is a genre-buster, a cop show unlike any other. It's a television program that aims for the texture and pacing of a novel…

    LARRY GILLIARD, JR., Actor, "D'Angelo Barksdale": I swear to God, I was courtside for eight months, and I was freer in jail than I was at home.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … entertainment that is also an angry provocation. Set and shot largely on the streets of Baltimore, the HBO series is one of the most critically acclaimed on television.

    JD WILLIAMS, Actor, "Bodie": This must be one of them contrapment things.

    DEIRDRE LOVEJOY, Actress, "Rhonda Pearlman": You mean entrapment?

    DOMINIC WEST, Actor, "Jimmy McNulty": Kid's got a point.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Last August, we spent a day on the set and talked to series creator David Simon, who's clear that his show was intended to be different.

    DAVID SIMON, Creator, HBO's "The Wire": Most of the drama and certainly all of the comedy that exists on American television exists to comfort the comfortable, and mock the afflicted on some level, and to appease our sense that things are working and that this way of doing business as we are in the world is viable.

    And I come from the world of journalism. And Mencken said that newspapers and journalism are there to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    As a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon covered the violence and despair of the crack cocaine drug wars fought out on his city's streets in the 1980s.

    His 1991 book "Homicide," a non-fiction, insider account of a year with Baltimore detectives, became the basis for the NBC program of the same name. It was here, as a producer and writer of more than 100 episodes, that Simon got his first taste of television.

    A second book, "The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood," was co-written with Ed Burns, a former Baltimore detective and teacher. It became an HBO miniseries.

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