By Bill Vaughan
Looking for lightning to strike twice, the team that 20 years ago created HBO’s groundbreaking series “The Wire” is launching the cable channel’s new drama “We Own This City” April 25.
Developed by George Pelecanos and David Simon, based on the book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (“King Richard”), the show chronicles the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force and the corruption and moral collapse that befell an American city in which the policies of drug prohibition and mass arrest were championed at the expense of actual police work.
Starring Jon Bernthal (“The Punisher”), breakout “Lovecraft Country” actress Wunmi Mosaku, Rob Brown (“Treme”) and Josh Charles (“The Good Wife”); viewers will recognize many members of “The Wire” cast, led by Jamie Hector, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Domenick Lombardozzi, Trey Chaney, Delaney Williams, Jermaine Crawford, Anwan Glover, Chris Clanton, Nathan Corbett, Maria Broom, Susan Rome and Michael Salconi.
The connective tissue between the shows goes beyond the creative teams and the city. While “The Wire” was a fictional story, it was speaking to the issues in policing stemming from the drug war heading into the turn of the century and the 2000s. This series deals with the next generation of the drug war.
In the 2000s, the Baltimore Police Department struggled to respond to crime with meaningful police work, giving itself over to mass arrest and drug warring instead.
“We Own This City” shows how the department’s desperate reliance on statistics over substance eventually led to the inability of department officials to supervise the Gun Trace Task Force and the further inability of the department to discipline rogue police.
At the time of the Gun Trace Task Force scandal in 2017, though there were numerous indications of corruption within several plainclothes units going back almost a decade, Baltimore police commanders held to the belief that any street unit that could bring in guns and drugs consistently had to be championed and protected. “We Own This City” depicts the inevitable corruption of a unit given such carte blanche.
FESTIVAL FILE: L.A. Times Festival of Books, billed as the nation’s largest literary gathering, presents more than 500 writers, musicians, artists and chefs, April 23 at USC. Amanda Gorman, Janelle Monáe, Valerie Bertinelli, Meena Harris, Ziggy Marley, Terry Crews, David Duchovny, Justine Bateman, Kelly Rowland, Rachel Lindsay, Billy Porter, Alton Brown, DJ Envy, Eric Dickerson and Roxane Gay are among those featured. Get your tickets at EventBrite.com.
CLIPPETTES: Currently in theaters and On Demand, is a gripping heartfelt thriller, “9 Bullets,” starring the always solid Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”), an unrecognizable Sam Worthington (“Avatar”), talented young actor Dean Scott Vasquez and the remarkable La La Anthony (“Power’). Olympian turned writer/director Gigi Gaston dedicates her film to the memory of Tommy “Tiny” “Debo” Lister Jr. …
The Artform Studio Record Store Day on April 23 will feature DJ sets by Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Ladybug Mecca, Rhettmatic, and more. Later that evening, Jagged Edge headlines at the Saban …
Grammy recognized composer, arranger, producer and guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. is having a music release party concert at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Jazz Grill on April 24; a date that also includes an intimate evening with David Foster at the Kavli Theater and comic Hasan Minhaj at the Segerstrom Center …
Tony Award-winning Broadway, film and TV director Kenny Leon is participating in “Classics: From the Stage to the Screen” with True Colors Theatre Company Artistic Director Jamil Jude on April 25. Register for the special virtual event celebrating Leon’s vision for Black American theater and performances at www.eventbrite.com …
The movie adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Water Dancer” has found its director in Nia DaCosta, who most recently helmed the update of “Candyman” …
Journey into the mind of genre-defying, Emmy Award-winning composer and pianist Kris Bowers (“King Richard,” “Bridgerton”) for the launch of a new series “Cue & A with Robert Kraft” at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica on April 26 …
Skip Marley’s Change The Us Tour ends at The Roxy on April 27; as Just Jazz Presents Miguel Zenón and the Steve Lehman Quartet at Mr. Musichead …
A round of Jada and Will Smith remarks may be on the way as Netflix Is A Joke Presents: Dave Chappelle and Friends at the Hollywood Bowl for three consecutive nights beginning April 28 …
Also April 28, English singer/songwriter Jorja Smith croons at Hollywood Forever Cemetery; while 9th Wonder and Musalini perform at the Viper Room; and author Danyel Smith virtually discusses “Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop” with Lynell George at 6 p.m. Keplers.org has the details for that one.
Kendrick Lamar announced that the follow-up to his 2017 Pulitzer-winning album “Damn” will be titled “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers to be released on May 13.
TASTY QUIP: “There is only one immutable sin in writing: Don’t Be Boring! [HBO’s] ‘Winning Time: [The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty]’ commits that sin over and over. I’ll start with the bland characterization. The characters are crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people, the way Lego Han Solo resembles Harrison Ford. Each character is reduced to a single bold trait, as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension.” – KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR
TC ON TV: April 22 – “The Long Game: Bigger Than Basketball” (Apple TV+): Chronicling the inspiring, coming-of-age story of basketball phenom Makur Maker, who grabbed global headlines with his ground-breaking decision to forgo the NBA and play for Howard University, making him the highest-ranked high school player in the modern recruiting era to commit to a historically Black university. Off the courts, the docu-series explores how his journey from fleeing war-torn South Sudan as a child and his tight-knit support system informed his decision. “They Call Me Magic” (Apple TV+): A four-part documentary event that takes an illuminating, holistic look into the life and career of Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “The Opening Act” (AMC+): Jimmy O. Yang stars as a new comic breaking in by opening for his idol (Cedric The Entertainer). With Ken Jeong, Russell Peters and Bill Burr. “Oprah + Viola” (Netflix): A special event interview between the two industry giants. “The Simpsons” (Disney+): “When [guest voice] Billie [Eilish] Met Lisa” in this special presentation. “Friday Night Vibes” (TBS): Xzibit and Denys Cowan visit for a double feature of “XXX” and sequel “State of the Union.”
April 23 – “Rich & Shameless” (TNT): A series of seven unique films covering subjects such as Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman and her involvement in a nefarious sex cult, the unlikely battle between Martin Shkreli and The Wu-Tang Clan, and the disappearance of NBA great Bison Dele (formerly Brian Williams) at sea.
April 24 – “The Man Who Fell To Earth” (SHO): An alien (Chiwetel Ejiofor) crashes deep into the oilfields of New Mexico with a mission: he must find a brilliant scientist (Naomie Harris), who is the one woman on the planet who can help save his species. An inspired continuation of the novel by Walter Tevis and the iconic 1976 film starring David Bowie. “Unsung” (TV1): “The Decades 2000’s” “Uncensored” (TV1): Trina “The Baby” (HBO): Michelle De Swarte (“The Duchess”) stars as 38-year-old Natasha, who is furious that her closest friends are all having babies. But when she is unexpectedly landed with a white baby of her own, her life dramatically implodes in this horror satire.
April 25 – “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange” (WorldChannel.org): From French director Nora Philippe, the documentary “Restitution: Africa’s Fight for Its Art” brings the story of the theft of thousands of pieces of African art by European nations during the colonial period. As activists and governments now work to return the art to their countries of origins, will Western museums release their claims on the pieces and help restructure the West’s view of African art and culture?
April 26 – “To Tell The Truth” (ABC): Cynthia Erivo and Donald Faison close the sixth season.
April 28 – “Under The Banner of Heaven” (Hulu): Andrew Garfield just keeps winning! He follows a string of recent hit films (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “tick, tick … BOOM!,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home”) with this limited series inspired by the true best-seller about the 1984 murder of a mother and her baby daughter in a Mormon Utah suburb. “Sincerely Daisy” (Kenya); “Uradi (Kenya)” (AllBlk): The week’s African cinema premieres. “Atlanta” (FX): “White people watching this be like… Pain,” says the liner notes about this Donald Glover-directed episode titled “Trini 2 De Bone.”
END QUOTE: “Become one with eternity. Obliterate your personality. Become part of your environment. Forget yourself.” – YAYOI KUSAMA
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.