Everyone’s talking about “The Wire” these days, a show that only recently wrapped up its run on HBO. DVD sets are on the shelves ready to buy or ready to fly into your mail box courtesy of Netflix.

Articles and interviews about “The Wire” are all over the place. Here are a few:
Bill Moyers Journal (April 17)
The New York Observer – “Should Literary Novels Be More Like ‘The Wire'” (April 21)
The Guardian UK – “Newspapers Last Bastion Against Political Corruption says David Simon.” (March 27)
New York Times – “Modern Love – Down to The Wire” (April 19)

I’ve gotten to know, in one way or another, some writers and actors from “The Wire” and the team that seems to stick together from one David Simon gig to the next. Undercover Blackman aka David Mills is one of these people.

As I see it, what keeps the group connected to real people and in some ways “humble” compared to most production teams working out of the Hollywood factory, is that they are not wedded to or in most cases living in Hollywood. “The Wire,” “The Corner,” and NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” were filmed in Baltimore, MD, a city that has its own version of true grit. And if all goes as planned, the team will be returning to a new location –New Orleans that is–for an HBO series prospect titled “Treme,” another creation of David Simon’s. These creatives also share a few other characteristics: they were journalists (i.e. newspapers, print media); and graduates from the University of Maryland. I always say, pick your schools based on alumni network patterns. Best of all, you can talk to them about a lot of things and not just television, the movie deal, or back scratching.

I say all this because through the writers and producers for “The Wire” I’ve sort of jumped on that bandwagon even without having seen a frame of the show.

This Saturday, George Pelecanos, a writer and producer for the series and part of the “Treme” team will be speaking at the Big Read – D.C.’s kick-off event (11 am, Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave., NE – DC). Call it coincidence that “The Wire” is out there without even being on the air. I’m producing this event and am project director for the Big Read – D.C., so listen up!

The Big Read – D.C. is part of the national initiative called The Big Read presented by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. They support cities, towns, etc. nationwide to launch community readings of a single book (you know the routine — Oprah Book Club, One Book/One Chicago, Center for the Book). D.C.’s book is The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and the events are presented by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities with the support of local community partners.

George Pelecanos will be at the kick-off as well as the DC Commission’s Larry Neal Awards presentation (May 8), and reading from his new book, The Way Home, at Politics and Prose (May 14).

Apparently, a writers life does rise above just being a bird on a wire.

Update: Today’s (4/23/09) Washington Post District Weekly’s front page features The Big Read – D.C.