David Simon has lined up his next HBO project, and it’s sending him back to the streets—and corruption-rife police departments—of Baltimore, as Deadline reports that Simon and regular producing partner George Pelecanos have begun casting on We Own This City, a miniseries adaptation of Justin Fenton’s book about cop corruption in the city in the mid-2010s. Specifically, Fenton’s book—which, not coincidentally, carries a blurb from Simon, whose work as a newspaper reporter on Baltimore’s crime beat inspired and powered much of his later television work—tracks the rise of the city’s Gun Trace Task Force, meant to curtail the rise in murders seen in the Maryland city in the aftermath of the unrest provoked by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in policy custody in 2015.
As Fenton’s book outlines, though, the Gun Trace Task Force didn’t so much cut down in street crime as participate (and maybe even innovate) in it, leading to a 2017 racketeering indictment that saw all 8 members of the unit accused of having run a multi-year con to rob Baltimore citizens of sometimes massive amounts of cash (and drugs) (and property), all under the auspices of keeping the people safe. It was a massive scandal, even by the standards of Baltimore policing, and also obviously catnip for David Simon, whose blurb for Fenton’s book notes that it can “stand as the inevitable coda to the half-century of disaster that is the American drug war”—and kudos to all of you who just filled the final space in your David Simon Newswire bingo card.
Per Deadline, Pelecanos—whose last project with Simon was The Deuce—spoke a bit about the potential project a few years back, including the fact that at least some of the old The Wire writing staff will be back to work on the project. (Although, to be clear, it doesn’t sound like the new series will place itself in the lightly fictionalized version of Baltimore from that celebrated show.) The new series reportedly got a greenlight from HBO earlier this year.