David Simon was in London, Tuesday, for a screening of his HBO series The Wire and he wasn’t pulling any punches. Having told a packed British Film Institute (BFI) audience that he and his fellow writers on The Wire don’t really like TV, he took a few minutes to talk to TBIVision about his latest project, Treme.
Simon said his script for the show is with HBO and the network will decide whether to make a pilot in the next couple of weeks. The drama focuses on the lives of musicians in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans and specifically in the titular district of Treme.
There was also disappointing news for fans of The Wire as Simon told TBIvision that, having filmed five seasons of the Baltimore-based drama, that there is zero possibility of revisiting the show or any of its characters. "It’s dead – there are other stories to tell," he said.
Simon admitted he was surprised the show, in which the main characters’ converse in broad Baltimore accents and local street slang, has worked outside the US. He credited British journalist Charlie Brooker for helping create a word-of-mouth buzz in the UK via his newspaper column and through his Screenwipe show on BBC Four.
The show is on Fox’s cable channel FX in the UK but Simon said that there might be a terrestrial outing for his follow up to The Wire, the Iraq war drama Generation Kill. The seven-part miniseries debuts on HBO in the US in July.
By any standards, Simon could not be described as a regular TV producer. Eschewing New York and LA for his native Baltimore, the ex-crime reporter and writer on NBC series Homicide: Life on the Street obviously isn’t harbouring any ambition to get a show on network TV.
"We know why we [writers on The Wire] don’t watch a lot of TV," Simon told a packed BFI. ""I can’t watch network TV or any storytelling medium where they stop every 13 minutes to sell you iPods and cars."
But Simon did have some kinder words for HBO and its peers. "For so long TV programming was the crap that surrounded the commercials," he said. "Only premium cable gave it a chance to take a leap forward."