September 28th, 2010
05:05 PM ET
David Simon, a creator of the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Wire,” has been named among this year’s MacArthur Fellows.
Simon joins a group of 23 fellows announced Tuesday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Each receives a no-strings-attached $500,000 grant to be distributed over five years.
This year’s chosen eclectic group includes an economist, an astrophysicist, musicians and an anthropologist.
In Simon’s biography on the MacArthur website, he is listed as an “Author, Screenwriter, and Producer crafting richly textured narratives that engage wide-ranging audiences and confront some of the most daunting challenges facing America’s urban centers.”
The former Baltimore Sun reporter found fame beyond his beloved city after his book “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” was transformed into an NBC television show for which he served as a writer and producer after leaving the newspaper. He later co-wrote “The Corner,” which became an acclaimed HBO mini-series and was followed by the now cult-classic series, “The Wire.”
Simon is currently at work on another HBO project, “Treme,” which was picked up by the network for a second season after the series' first episode aired. (HBO is owned by the same parent company which owns CNN.)
Critics and fans have long decried that “The Wire” never received its due in either ratings or awards, but Simon told the Baltimore Sun that "The great value of this award is that it will make it easier for all of us to argue for stories that might not otherwise be perceived as popular television.”
He added, "I can't wave around Nielsen ratings and I can't wave around Emmy awards when I want to get these stories told. An award like this gives us more gravitas. It gives us a little more currency. And it indicates that this medium of television is capable of much more social good than has been demonstrated to this point."
(Full disclosure: The writer of this entry is a former co-worker of both Simon and his wife, award-winning novelist Laura Lippman.)
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