The Marc Steiner Show

Archive for The Wire

The Wire: Interview with Writer & Co-Producer Ed Burns

Ed burns (Credit: NY Times)June 20, 2017 – Segment 2

We hosted a special interview I conducted around the popular and powerful television series The Wire.We then listened to a conversation I had with Ed Burns, a writer and co-producer of The Wire.  Burns is a former Baltimore City Cop and Baltimore City public school teacher. Those experiences deeply informed the script of The Wire, as his real-life stories often found their way onto the screen.

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The Wire: Interview with Detective Lester Freamon

Wire03June 20, 2017 – Segment 1

We hosted a special archive interview I conducted around the popular and powerful television series The Wire. We listened back to my interview with Clarke Peters, who played Detective Lester Freamon on the show. We stopped by his Charles Village row home to tape this interview, a laid back conversation around the dining room table that touched on all sorts of things, including: Baltimore, theater, race, politics, culture, Europe, America, and of course, The Wire and his iconic character.

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Wrestling With The Wire

October 23, 2015 – Segment 2Wire03-300x187

Our show concludes with a listen back to a segment we recorded earlier this year about The Wire, as our guests talk about the series and its representation of our city. With: Lawrence Grandpre, Assistant Director of Research and Public Policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and author of the City Paper article, “Smile For the Camera: The representational limits of ‘The Wire;'” Dr. Lawrence Brown, public health consultant and Assistant Professor of Public Health in the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University; Dr. Kate Drabinski, Lecturer of Gender and Women’s Studies and Director of the Women Involved in Learning and Leadership (WILL) Program at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and author of the City Paper article “Field Tripping: Biking ‘The Wire’;” and Phillip Burgess, classically trained actor and Theatre Lecturer at Morgan State University who appeared in The Wire.

This week is the WEAA Fall Membership Drive, so tune in for compelling topics and wonderful premiums! Now is your opportunity to support the station you have come to love: WEAA, THE Voice of the Community. Call 410-319-8888 or visit weaa.org to make your pledge of support during the show.


The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, A Play, and the City that Would Not be Broken, the latest offering from author Wendell Pierce

October 23, 2015 – Segment 1

Marc and his co-host, fitness trainer and activist, Chauncey Whitehead, start todays show by revisiting Marc’s recent interview with author and Tony Award Winning Producer, Wendell Pierce.  The actor, best known for his role as Detective Bunk Morehead in the acclaimed HBO series The Wire, joined us to talk about his new book (written with Rod Dreher) on New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, A Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken.

This week is the WEAA Fall Membership Drive, so tune in for compelling topics and wonderful premiums! Now is your opportunity to support the station you have come to love: WEAA, THE Voice of the Community. Call 410-319-8888 or visit weaa.org to make your pledge of support during the show.


Remembering Robert Chew

propjoeJanuary 17, 2014 – Segment 2

We remember the life of Robert Chew, the Baltimore native who has portrayed the east Baltimore drug lord Proposition Joe on the hit HBO series The Wire.  Prop Joe, as he came to be known, was an iconic figure that represented a time in Baltimore where the drug trade was less violent and bloody, when word was bond, and “The Game” was something very different than what it is today. Robert Chew died a year ago today.

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“The Wire” Panel Discussion at Baltimore Museum of Industry

Here’s a podcast of a panel discussion between four people who played integral, yet completely different, roles in creating the world of The Wire.  Listen to writer Bill Zorzi, executive producer Nina Noble, actor Chad Coleman, who played "Cutty," the gangster turned boxing coach/youth mentor/ladies’ man, and Clark Johnson.  Clark played the city editor Gus in the last season, and directed a few episodes of The Wire, including the pilot and the finale.  The conversation, hosted by Marc Steiner, took place in front of a few hundred people at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on April 30, 2008 at the opening of their new exhibit "Local Scenes on the Silver Screen: featuring The Wire."

Don’t have time to listen to the podcast right now?  Click here to read the transcript.

BMI panel

From Left: Bill Zorzi, Chad Coleman, Marc Steiner, Nina Noble, and Clark Johnson.  Photo credit: mojo40Design of Precise Management Company.



Nina Noble, Executive Producer

Nina Noble and friends accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for HBO’s The Corner in 2000.  She is on far left.

Nina Noble and friends accepting the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for HBO’s The Corner in 2000. She is on far left.

Nina Noble, Executive Producer for The Wire, spent the past several years doing all the behind the scenes work that is required for a successful show. She joined Marc to share her stories and experiences from the past few years.

I have major sympathy for Nina Noble.  We share a job title (okay, well her title has the fancy ‘Executive’ in front of it) and people are constantly asking me “What does a producer DO?”  I imagine she gets the same question.  I always like to answer, “I do all the work” and then flash a smile.  If Marc is around, I will usually add jokingly, “…and he gets all the glory.” (Fair enough, really, considering he also has to bear the brunt of all the criticism!)

But seriously, Nina Noble had a gigantic job as Executive Producer of The Wire.  From convincing the Port of Baltimore to let them shoot scenes on location to keeping track of the hundreds of characters David Simon and the other writers created, it’s a wonder she didn’t burn out long ago.  But as she told Marc when she sat down for an interview about the experience of working on The Wire, this is the only job she is suited for.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 40:20.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

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Bob Wisdom, the Character “Major Bunny Colvin”

Photo by Anne Hefley

Photo by Anne Hefley

Major Bunny Colvin was a featured character in season three when he took it upon himself to drastically change drug policy in West Baltimore. He was portrayed by Bob Wisdom, who found time to get on the phone with Marc and discuss the role.

It’s been over a week since the series finale of The Wire aired.  Sad time for Wire fans these days, but we’re continuing The Wire Podcast series to help you get through the end-of-show withdrawal.  Speaking of which, having had a little time to reflect on it now, what did everyone think of the last episode, and Season 5 as a whole?

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 15:48.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

What was the real life inspiration for Hamsterdam?  What does he think of the character he portrayed?  What can the experience of The Wire tell us about race and acting in America today?  (Preview quote: “Every actor of color in this country that I ever met wanted to be part of this show.”)

If Marc and Bob sound like old friends, it’s because they are.  They met at Studio Theatre in Washington DC in 1986 or so, where they acted together in a production of American Buffalo by David Mamet.  Bet you didn’t know that!


Clarke Peters, “Detective Lester Freamon”

clarkepeters.jpg

We stopped by Clarke’s Charles Village rowhome one recent morning to tape this interview.  By interview, I mean a laid back conversation around the dining room table, talking about all sorts of things: Baltimore, theater, race, politics, culture, Europe, America, and of course, The Wire and his character, Detective Lester Freamon.  Oh, have you heard there are discussions of a Wire movie?  Clarke brings it up near the end of the interview.  So, sit back, relax, and listen.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 43:41.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Check this out – yesterday Time magazine published an article written by The Wire’s five writers: Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, and David Simon.  It’s called “The Wire’s War on the Drug War” and they argue for jury nullification on all non-violent drug cases.  Here’s a quote:

“If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.”

Read the whole article.  In light of the recent news that 1 in 100 U.S. adults are in prison, giving us the highest rate of incarceration in the world, what do you think?

And come back tomorrow, the last day before the series finale airs, for a new interview with Andre Royo aka Bubbles aka Bubs!!


Andre Royo, the Character “Bubbles”

Bubbles is my favorite character on The Wire. I remember hearing an interview with David Simon before the fifth season premiered in which he promised that at least one character would experience a happy ending and total redemption by the end of the series. I immediately forget all about how much I cared about Dukie, Randy, and all the other kids on the show and found myself hopin’ and prayin’ for Bubbles to be the one with the happy ending.

Seems like he is doing pretty good so far this season…we’ll find out for sure tomorrow night whether or not Bubbles ends the season clean and sober. Before that, take a listen to Marc’s interview with Andre Royo, the actor who has so deftly portrayed Bubbles during the last few years. He’ll speak about how intense it was so carry this character over an extended period of time, and why he thinks the character of Bubbles moved so many people. You’ll hear Andre’s plans for the future and what he hopes The Wire has taught people.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 25 minutes.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Click here to stream the interview. Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download the interview as an mp3. Running time is 25 minutes. You can read the transcript here.

Links below, after you click “Read More”

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A Visit to Viva House Soup Kitchen

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I have a lot of friends from out of town who love The Wire.  I always kind of feel sorry for them because I feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture.  Only someone really familiar with Baltimore can get all the inside jokes, references, and cameos that pepper the series.  But sometimes the reference is arcane enough that not even Baltimoreans quite get what they are looking at.  For example, how many people know that the soup kitchen Bubbles worked at in season five is a real place?

My co-producer Justin brought that up, and we decided that it would make a great podcast to go down and talk to the people who run that soup kitchen and learn about their experience being featured on The Wire.  Their names are Brendan Walsh and Willa Bickham.  They play themselves on television (well, sort of…listen to the podcast to find out more!) They are wonderful people and they have a lot of great things to say about Baltimore, social justice issues, and of course, The Wire.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 17:30.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Click “Read More” for a slideshow of pictures from Viva House as well as other resources.

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Robert Chew, the Character “Proposition Joe”

We’re back again today with another fantastic interview for you.  Last week Marc sat down with Robert Chew, the Baltimore native who has portrayed the east Baltimore drug lord Proposition Joe for the past several years on the hit HBO series The Wire.  Prop Joe, as he came to be known, was an iconic figure that represented a time in Baltimore where the drug trade was less violent and bloody, when word was bond, and “The Game” was something very different than what it is today.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 34 minutes.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Click read more for interviews and resources.

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David Simon, Series Creator

simon-and-cast.jpg 

 Our Wire podcast series continues with a forty minute interview with David Simon!  Sunday is getting closer.  In the meantime, hear what The Wire’s creator has to say about the show. 

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

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Ed Burns, Writer and Producer

Ed Burns on the set of The Wire

Ed Burns on the set of The Wire

As we promised last week, this week we are bringing you a series of interviews with folks from the hit HBO series The Wire.  The series finale of this show is airing on March 9th.  Marc is a huge fan of the program, and we know a lot of you are as well.   So for our first podcast series we decided to concentrate on this television show and talk to writers, producers, actors, security guards and crew to ask them about their experiences in making The Wire.  We wanted to find out what they think the message of the show is.  What does it have to teach us about urban America?  What lessons can we learn from the five seasons?

We began with a quick conversation with Ed Burns, a writer and co-producer.  He is a former Baltimore City Cop and Baltimore City public school teacher.  Those experiences deeply informed the script of The Wire.  His real life experiences often found their way onto the screen.

Right click here and select “Save Target As” in order to download this onto your computer. Running time is 15:20.

Click here to download the interview transcript.

Tomorrow, we’ll bring you a conversation with series creator David Simon.  Later in the week, you’ll hear from the actors who play Lester Freamon, Prop Joe, Bubbles, and more.  Stay tuned, and let us know what you think.

-Jessica

Click “Read More” for links to articles, interviews and more.

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