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The Wire Creator David Simon to Examine 'The Audacity of Despair' April 2

March 9, 2009

David Simon caa.jpgMarch 9, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — David Simon -- called the "creator of some of television's most critically acclaimed and relevant work" by Associated Press -- is coming to DePauw University. On Thursday, April 2, Simon will deliver the keynote address for DePauw's Undergraduate Communications Honors Conference. Titled "The Audacity of Despair: The Decline of American Empire and What's In It For You," the talk begins at 8 p.m. in the ballroom of the Memorial Student Union Building and is free and open to students and the public.

Simon is the force behind such acclaimed series as The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street and Generation Kill. This week he and HBO are "set to begin production this week on the pilot for Treme, a drama set three months after Katrina ravaged New Orleans," notes AP.

"The overall thing has to feel like the truth about post-Katrina David Simon Homicide book.jpgNew Orleans," Simon says of his new project. "Not just to people down here, but to a lot of people who may have been paying attention elsewhere."

After graduating from the University of Maryland at College Park, Simon served as a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun. In 1991, while still with the newspaper, he authored Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which won the won the 1992 Edgar Award for "best fact crime book." It was the basis for the award-winning TV series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999), on which Simon worked as a writer and producer after he left his newspaper job.

In 1997 he co-authored, with Ed Burns, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, the true account of a West Baltimore community dominated by a heavy drug market. It was named a "notable book of the year" by the New York Times and became a six-hour HBO miniseries which Simon co-wrote and produced. It won three Emmy Awards.

Simon then served as creator, show runner, executive producer and head writer The Wire HBO Boxed Set.jpgof the HBO drama series The Wire, which aired its final episode one year ago today after 5 seasons. The critically-acclaimed series, which focuses on the role of mass media in society, was honored last month with the Writers Guild of America Award award for Best Dramatic Series.

He also Simon produced and wrote Generation Kill, a miniseries which also aired on HBO and was a collaboration with Ed Burns.

The Atlantic's Mark Bowden wrote,"As The Wire unveiled its fourth season in 2006, Jacob Weisberg of Slate, in a much-cited column, called it 'the best TV show ever broadcast in America.' The New York Times, in an editorial (not a review, mind you) called the show Dickensian. I agree with both assessments. 'Wire-world,' as Simon calls it, does for turn-of-the- millennium Baltimore what Dickens's Bleak House does for mid-19th-century London. Dickens takes the byzantine bureaucracy of the law and the petty corruptions of the legal profession, borrows from the neighborhoods, manners, dress, and language of the Chancery courts and the Holborn district, and builds from them a world that breathes. Similarly, The Wire creates a vision of official Baltimore as a heavy, self-justified bureaucracy, gripped by its own byzantine logic and criminally unconcerned about the lives of ordinary people, who enter it at their own risk."

Holton Quad Fall 2007.jpgIn a 2004 Reason interview, Simon noted, "The world now is almost inured to the power of journalism. The best journalism would manage to outrage people. And people are less and less inclined to outrage. I think if you look at what journalism has achieved in terms of parsing the events that got us into this war in Iraq, or the truth about what happened in the election -- I've become increasingly cynical about the ability of daily journalism to effect any kind of meaningful change. I was pretty dubious about it when I was a journalist, but now I think it's remarkably ineffectual."

David Simon continues to work as a freelance journalist and author, writing for publications as varied as the Washington Post, the New Republic and Details magazine.

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