One of the difficulties in creating the acclaimed HBO police series “Wiretapping” is that politicians and bureaucrats in Baltimore eventually got tired of a TV show telling viewers about how corrupt Baltimore can be. “Wiretapping” made incredible use of the streets, ports and schools of Maryland’s largest city, and the actors praise the decision to shoot the film in Baltimore, rather than in Vancouver or Toronto pretending to be a “City of Charm.” But one of the creators of The Wire, David Simon, told CinemaBlend a very funny story about how the show ran into resistance when they continued to tell stories, and that almost stopped their production.
Each season of “Wiretapping” focused on a new area of the city, revealing specific problems, including the legalized drug trade and the impact of drugs on Baltimore elementary schools. The actors told us which of the seasons they consider the best season of “Wiretapping”. But David Simon told us that the season might not have happened—or turned out the way he wanted—if the mayor of Baltimore had acted in his own way. Simon told us:
After the first season, the mayor said he wanted to leave the Wire business. And the problem was that before the first season, even before we shot the pilot episode, I really went to this mayor and said: “Look, it could be any Rust belt city.” I could put it in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cleveland… it just has to be a post-industrial city struggling with the same problems.” I even went to lunch with him to talk about it. And he said, “No, no, no, bring him here.” We need a TV (job).” I said: “Are you sure?” Yes, of course. A year and a half later, he is running for governor or wanted to run for governor at the time. And he looked at this very harsh show, which sharply criticized the war on drugs, like an albatross. I do not know what he wanted us to do. Basically, he wanted us to stop.
Which, again, as mentioned, would be very difficult to do. As we point out in these behind-the-scenes facts about “Wiretapping,” the show has become synonymous with Baltimore, so moving it anywhere else would deprive the program of its soul. It’s funny that the mayor of Baltimore announced the arrival of “Wiretapping” in his beautiful city, but the moment the show began to illuminate the dark secrets of the Maryland city brighter, he wanted it to disappear.
The performance wasn’t going to go too far. As David Simon continued, they could have moved the show to Philadelphia for filming, but they had already introduced the character as a Baltimore cop, so it would still be called Baltimore. And Simon continued:
In the end, realizing that we were going to do it anyway, because we had started and were going to try to finish it, and the money for the shooting would go to another city, he gave in.
Money talks. This is a lesson that a show like The Wire will teach us. The interviews took place in honor of the fact that the HBO series turned 20 years old. And there was something to celebrate, but there is also something to mourn. The legendary Michael K. Williams, who played the flamboyant gangster Omar Little, died in 2021, and the actors took time to remember Williams’ contribution to their landmark show. The partner in the film “Wiretap” Wendell Pierce told us a wonderful story about the idea of a prequel film, with which David Simon almost agreed, in which Samuel L. Jackson could play. That’s why we chose “Wiretap” as one of the classic HBO shows that deserves a separate movie.
Wiretapping is an outstanding show that deserves your time and attention. It’s currently fully available on Blu-ray and DVD, and can also stream on HBO MAX, so make sure your HBO Max subscription is up to date.