Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 15:00 UK

David Simon discusses new drama

David Simon
David Simon created 60 hours of TV drama with The Wire

David Simon, creator of highly acclaimed hard-hitting TV drama The Wire, has talked to the BBC World Service about his latest project.

The new series will be called Treme, the name of a district in New Orleans and will be an intimate study of people rebuilding their lives after the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina.

The hurricane struck US Gulf Coast in August 2005 and when the protective coastal levees were breached, 80% of New Orleans was flooded.

More than 1,800 people died and hundreds of thousands were made homeless.

Characters McNulty and Bunk (right) from The Wire
Characters from The Wire: Detectives McNulty and 'Bunk' Moreland.

The US government was accused of a slow and botched response to the disaster.

Treme will be another collaboration between Simon and HBO, the US cable company that produced The Wire.

"The Wire is a schematic of an American city and of the two Americas we have built side by side," explained David Simon on BBC World Service's arts programme, The Strand.

"One that is moneyed and seemingly rational and coherent and the one that gets sold on every other TV show.

"The other one that exists fundamentally in every American city, and those people we don't need, and what they've been left to fashion in a post-industrial economy.

"The whole piece is a post-modern version of a Greek tragedy.

"Instead of the indifferent and venal Olympian Gods hurling lightening bolts about, it is large institutions that are the Gods. They devour anybody they are supposed to serve," he added.

Baltimore's finest

The writer, who worked as a police reporter at the Baltimore Sun, has consistently used the medium of television drama to document and comment on contemporary American society.

He has attempted to bring a journalistic accuracy to his fiction.

The response to Katrina was a beautiful metaphor for the hollowness at the core of American will
David Simon

"I so admire journalism but I was able to tell things that were not true, but were true, using drama."

"A beautiful metaphor for the hollowness at the core of American will and imagination," is how Simon refers to the response to Hurricane Katrina.

While Treme will also present a critique of modern American life, David Simon said that his new drama will not be The Wire: New Orleans, but rather an intimate study of how Americans live together.

Neither will the drama dwell entirely on the negatives.

"It's the best we're capable of and the worst", said Mr Simon about the city and all it endured.

New Orleans gave the world a fusion of African and European culture out of which came, amongst other things, jazz and blues and this will form the backdrop to the story.

What Simon called "the disaster of America, in terms of its civic incompetence and low ambitions" will be contrasted with "the triumph of America in terms of culture, and what it produces in art and life."

Many of the main characters portrayed in Treme will be local jazz musicians.

Fans of The Wire will spot actors Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters, who played Detectives "Bunk" Moreland and Lester Freamon, in key roles in the pilot.



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