The Museum of the Moving Image just put up a really nice feature called Making ‘The Wire’. It’s the latest installment in their Pinewood Dialogues series, and the latest in the museum’s ongoing celebration of almost everyone I know’s favorite show.

For those who don’t know it, The Wire is a TV show based on life in the city of Baltimore. That’s about as dry a description as I can possibly provide, but at this point the show has been so heavily praised that even I, with my long standing commitment to overstatement, am hesitant to provide more than the bare facts. But if you’re interested in reading someone who really loves this show and isn’t afraid to show it, check this article by Jacob Weisberg on why The Wire is “surely the best TV show ever broadcast in America”. Then please watch the show. You won’t regret it.

Making ‘The Wire’ was the title of a panel discussion that the Museum of the Moving Image hosted this summer at their spot in Queens. It featured several cast members as well as the show’s creator David Simon. Below is a recording of the discussion. It isn’t for the unfamiliar or casually interested. This is strictly for the hardcore Wire heads who know the characters and will get references to (seemingly) minor scenes. But for those of us who fit that bill, this is a very entertaining and illuminating hour. The tone is free-wheeling and familial throughout. Here’s some samples…

5:55 – David Simon (Creator, Producer, Writer): The idea of writing to the casual viewer or the casual reader… who wants that guy?

18:15 – Clark Johnson (Baltimore Sun city editor Gus Haynes, Director): Can we talk for a second about the vindictive nature of the writing room?

23:35 – Richard Price (Writer): Everybody uses the word ‘Dickensian’… I don’t know, you know, it’s like… whatever.

25:00 – Wendell Pierce (Det. Bunk Moreland): There’s a particular club called Choices that I would love to go to like at 4 o’clock in the morning.

37:18 – David Simon: If people start showing themselves two-dimensional, the whole world falls apart.

40:33 – Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freemon): Back in the seventies or sixties, people would get up in the street and would demonstrate and their voices would be heard and something would be done. In the year 2000, I find Americans being really apathetic.

52:35 – David Simon: I don’t know how you manage to be anything other than a moneyed oligarchy without an aggressive and surly press.

59:23 – Wendell Pierce: We would go to lunch and they would come back to the couch and start slinging.

1:02:47 – David Simon: There was the guy who staggered onto set who had been shot, in season 3.

1:06:20 – David Simon: [The Wire] wasn’t about race. It was about how money and power route themselves, or fail to. It was about end of empire. It was about a lot of things.

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Seth Gilliam (Ellis Carver)
Clark Johnson (Baltimore Sun city editor Gus Haynes, Director)
Clarke Peters (Lester Freemon)
Wendell Pierce (“Bunk” Moreland)
David Simon (Creator, Producer, Writer)
Richard Price (Writer)
David Schwartz (Chief Curator of Museum of the Moving Image)

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