‘The Wire’ Goes To Washington

by | June 3, 2011 at 8:38 PM | the wire, TV News

(HBO)

(HBO)

In the world of the HBO series ‘The Wire,’ politicians were almost always using everyone else to get what they wanted. This week, however, it was ‘The Wire’ using politicians instead. Several actors from the critically acclaimed series, which ran from 2002-2008, went to Washington this week to visit the White House and help launch a public awareness campaign by the Federal Interagency Drug Endangered Child Task Force.

Watch every episode of “The Wire” here.

And how did the politicians respond? Well, the TV Critic In Chief, President Barack Obama, failed to show for a meeting with the cast. Wendell Pierce, who played Det. “Bunk” Moreland, told New Orleans Times-Picayune, “We’re standing around waiting and I’m like, ‘Oh, please tell me it’s about to happen.’ Then the secretary came back in and said, ‘Okay, you guys have to move on.’ He couldn’t get out of a meeting he was in.”
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Meanwhile, at least one other prominent politico drew attention to himself (just like in the series) when he decided to play the part of studio executive by pushing the executive producers of the series, Ed Burns and David Simon, to get to back to work making the show. While meeting with the cast, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he “had looked at those clips (of the show) again’ and wanted “to speak directly to Mr. Burns and Mr. Simon, do another season of ‘The Wire.’ That’s actually at a minimum. I want another season or I want a movie. I have a lot of power, Mr. Burns and Mr. Simon.”

Simon responded to those remarks later in the week, but probably not in the way Holder expected. In an email sent to The Times of London, Simon wrote that while he appreciated Holder’s kind remarks, “I’ve spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of ‘The Wire’ if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanizing drug prohibition.”

At its core, ‘The Wire’ was an intense examination of the catastrophic effect the drug trade has on not just people but entire communities. It was constantly critical of the federal government’s war on drugs and Simon continued the attack in his email, calling it “nothing more or less than a war on our underclass, succeeding only in transforming our democracy into the jailingest nation on the planet. This is ‘The Wire’s’ argument. So if we are being urged by the nation’s leading law enforcement officer to write more of the same, it seems appropriate to make some mention of that.”

It’s not often that a fictional show can find itself in the middle of a very real discussion of government policy, but then again, ‘The Wire was no ordinary show. Pierce, who traveled to the capital with former co-stars Sonja Sohn (Det. Kima Greggs) and Jim True-Frost (Roland “Prezbo” Pryzbylewski), admits he’s stunned at its effect on federal officials is so strong that he and his fellow actors can actually influence drug laws.

“As an artist, to have you work kind of land in something as tangible as drug-endangered children’s problems, to know that it’s being studied and used for this task force’s work, and that an agency of the United States government saw the work that you did and is taking it under advisement, is major.”