One of the difficult parts about producing HBO’s acclaimed police series The Wire is that the politicians and bureaucrats in Baltimore eventually got tired of the television show telling audience members how corrupt Baltimore could be. The Wire made incredible use of the streets, ports and school of Maryland’s largest city, and the cast praises the decision to film in Baltimore instead of Vancouver or Toronto pretending to be “Charm City.” But The Wire co-creator David Simon told CinemaBlend a very funny story about the show meeting resistance as they continued to tell stories, and what almost shut down their production.
Every season of The Wire focused on a new area of the city, drilling into specific problems including legalized drug-slinging to the effects drugs had on Baltimore’s elementary schools. The cast told us which of the seasons they consider to be the best season of The Wire. But David Simon told us that the season might not have happened – or happened the way that he wanted – if Baltimore’s mayor had his way. Simon told us:
Which again as mentioned, would have been very difficult to do. As we point out in these behind-the-scenes facts about The Wire, the show became synonymous with Baltimore, so moving it anywhere else would have taken the soul out of the program. It’s comical that the Baltimore mayor heralded the arrival of The Wire in his fair city, but the moment the show began to shine brighter lights on the dark secrets of the Maryland city, he wanted it to go away.
The show wasn’t going to go very far. As David Simon continued, they could bring the show to Philadelphia to film, but they’d already established the character as Baltimore police officers, so it’d still carry the name Baltimore. And Simon continued:
Money talks. That’s a lesson a show like The Wire would teach us. The interviews took place in honor of the HBO show turning 20 years old. And there was plenty to celebrate, but things to mourn, as well. The legendary Michael K. Williams, who played colorful gangster Omar Little, died in 2021, and the cast took time to remember Williams’ contributions to their landmark show. The Wire co-star Wendell Pierce told us an excellent story about a prequel movie idea David Simon almost agreed to, which might have starred Samuel L. Jackson. That’s why we chose The Wire as one classic HBO show that deserved some kind of a movie.
The Wire is an outstanding show that deserves your time and attention. It’s currently available to own in its entirety on Blu-ray and DVD, and also can be streamed on HBO MAX, so make sure your HBO Max subscription is up to date.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.