As a huge fan of both HBO’s The Wire and New Orleans the city, I await this Sunday’s premiere of Treme, Wire creator David Simon’s latest TV epic, with breathless, if not drooling, anticipation. But what a shock to learn that David Mills, a key writer/producer for both series, died suddenly yesterday in New Orleans from a brain aneurysm. Mills also adapted Simon’s book, The Corner, for HBO. (Check out Mills’s quirky blog, Undercover Black Man.)
From all reports, particularly Larry Blumenfeld’s cover story in this week’s Village Voice, Treme sounds close to having nailed New Orleans’s rich Southern-gothic-with-a-Caribbean-tinge milieu. The show’s theme is life in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina. One of its main focuses is the city’s still-vibrant music scene, including real-life jazz musicians and Indian chiefs vetted by the likes of trumpeter Donald Harrison, who happens to be one himself. The show’s title is a corruption of Tremé, a centuries-old black neighborhood that’s been home to countless jazzbos. Writers such as Mills and Eric Overmyer, both of whom wrote for NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street, are brilliant artisans of hardboiled yet high-quality and socially conscious TV. With five seasons in the works, Treme, not unlike Katrina and its aftermath, should offer a saturating take on one of the world’s great cities.