DLA Piper: Hollywood hot spot

On the set of "Whirlwind" at DLA Piper's Baltimore office. (Photo courtesy of DLA Piper.)

Hollywood is back in Baltimore.

Clayton LeBouef, an actor from “The Wire,” filmed scenes from his new movie, called “Whirlwind,” at DLA Piper’s Baltimore office last week in the main reception area.

On “The Wire,” LeBouef played Orlando, a front man who ran a strip club for the Barksdale drug organization. LeBouef is also known for his role as Col. George Barnfather in “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

DLA Piper’s glass office building has been a Hollywood hot spot in recent years. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s HBO comedy, “Veep,” shot several scenes for its pilot episode at the building. Several scenes in the 2005 movie “Syriana,” starring George Clooney, also were filmed at The Marbury Building at 6225 Smith Ave.

The recent movie shoot at DLA Piper is just one of a number of Charm City’s recent forays into the film industry. In addition to “Veep,” the HBO movie “Game Change,” about John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s 2008 bid for the presidency and vice presidency, was filmed in Baltimore. (Both “Game Change” and “Veep” won awards at Sunday’s Emmys.)

The Netflix show “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey has also been around town, filming at a sound stage in Edgewood, as well as in the city in places like the Peabody Institute in Mount Vernon.

All are part of an effort by Maryland to boost the film industry in the state.

Will there be tests on Baltimore street lingo?

Harvard will offer a course on The Wire next year. From The Harvard Crimson:

“‘The Wire’ has done more to enhance our understanding of the systemic urban inequality that constrains the lives of the poor than any published study” Sociology Professor William J. Wilson said.

African American studies chair Professor Evelyn B. Higginbotham said that there would be a new course in which Wilson will use “The Wire” as a case study for poverty in America.

What do you think about this class? I know there are some who would criticize it as a semester of watching TV, but I disagree. If I were still in college, I would jump at the chance to take a class like this. A show like The Wire is just begging for classroom-based context and analysis. The study of pop culture definitely has a place in academia–though you won’t see me arguing for a course on Jon & Kate any time soon.

HT: Double X.

No, Mayor Dixon didn’t say that

A few news organizations, including The Sun, were fooled today by a prank Web site carrying a message that purported to be from Mayor Sheila Dixon. The backstory is this: a British official compared the city of Manchester, which has had a spate of violence, to The Wire, which was, of course, about Baltimore.

A British blogger then made up a fake Web site made to look like Dixon’s official one, in which he, as Dixon, took the politician to task. The post read, in part:

To present a television show as the real Baltimore is to perpetuate a fiction that dishonours our city. It is as pointless as boasting that Baltimore has a per capita homicide rate a fraction of that in the popular UK television show Midsomer Murders.

The Baltimore Police Department is working hard to protect the people of this city and it should be remembered that The Wire was just a television show. As this video shows, there is so much more to Baltimore than The Wire.

The site, which appears to be no longer accessible, then linked to a video showing scenes from the violent Midsomer Murders show, accompanied by the theme song from The Wire. The video points out that there are more deaths in the British show than in the American one, then ends with the “Visit Baltimore” logo.

This afternoon, Dixon’s (actual) office sent out a statement correcting the record and saying that “The city’s Law department as well as the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology have been informed and are currently investigating this violation of the city’s website for copyright infringement of the City of Baltimore and the Office of Mayor.” Mayoral spokesman Scott Peterson also forwarded an e-mail from the blogger behind the fake site:

Scott,

I made a joke for my friends that was circulated more widely than intended. No-one was supposed to be fooled beyond the words “Midsomer Murders” and just in case, I made a little video and linked to it which was in no way conceivably genuine. I registered the domain in my own name, I wrote using English spelling, I left a message in the source code and at the bottom of the page I attributed the copyright to my blog pseudonym. I didn’t imagine anyone in the US or in the UK would believe it.

Please could you pass on my apologies to anyone in your office who has been inconvenienced by this prank. I will be editing the masthead to make it clear that it’s not the real site.

Yours,

Alex Hilton

The mayor’s spokesman told me that, despite the statement about the law department investigating, the city plans no litigation against blogger Hilton. “No, at the end of the day it’s a hoax,” Peterson said.

That said, “We want to make sure people understand that this is serious,” Peterson said. “It’s not a joke when you lift the website’s information…. It is dangerous and we’re just lucky that it wasn’t anything more of a serious intent.”

Even in Norway, city’s reputation precedes it

The talkative 19-year-old on his way home by train to Oslo, Norway after a year in the navy asked my family where we were from. We gave our typical response to foreigners: Washington, D.C. It’s not that we are ashamed of our Baltimore roots, it’s just easier for non-Americans to place Washington on their mental maps.

Then we started talking about television and the teenager mentioned one of his favorite shows was “The Wire.” So when told him we were from Baltimore, his eyes lit up. “Is it really like that?” he asked. “Does everyone own guns over there?”

So, Charm City’s place in the global community is secure… and if you want to read more observations from my 10-day trip through scenic Sweden, Denmark and Norway, check my post on the Exhibit A blog.

DANNY JACOBS, Legal Affairs Writer

Write your own ending to “The Wire”

There are only five days left until the conclusion of “The Wire,” a show that’s brought national attention to Charm City, and we want to know what you think will go down in the series’ final epsiode.

Will McNulty meet his maker? Will Marlo finally get what’s coming to him, or get off scot-free? And what will happen in the faux Baltimore Sun newsroom between Gus and Scott? What will become of Bunk, Lester, and Kima, to name a few?

Here’s your chance to end it your way. Comment below (anonymous, if you’d like) and tell us what you hope Sunday’s episode will bring.

If you need some inspiration before crafting your version, listen to former WYPR host Marc Steiner‘s countdown-to-the-end interviews with writers and cast. Here’s a link to the one with Ed Burns. (Or maybe you’d like to go straight to the one with David Simon?)

Here’s what Simon told Steiner about season five: “I don’t believe [society] can actually even recognize our fundamental problems, much less begin to address them. And that is what the last season of The Wire was about…

What was the fifth season about for you?

Don’t forget to comment, and don’t be afraid to start the conversation!

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

Update: When you’re done, you may want to check out this Bloomberg review of the final episode (note: there are some spoilers).

Fan favorite killed off on “The Wire” (Episode 8 recap)

omar-little.jpg

Did you foresee the murder of stick-up man Omar Little in last night’s episode?

The antihero, who has been on the show since the first season – and is hard not to like, aside from his violent behavior – was shot in the back of the head while buying cigarettes at a convenience store.

From his Wikipedia page (already updated with his demise):

Omar was a renowned stick-up man who lived by a strict code and never deviated from his rules, foremost of which is that he never robbed or menaced people who are not involved in the drug trade. Omar, who was gay, has had three partners on the show. Omar is the only major character on the series who claims to make a point of not using profanity.

In 2004, writers at USA Today named Omar’s portrayer, Michael K. Williams, one of the ten reasons they still love television, and our own Baltimore City Paper said Omar was “arguably the show’s single greatest achievement” in 2005.

Was it Omar’s time to go?

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

Attorney Billy Murphy on “The Wire”

billy_murphy.jpgDid anyone see Baltimore attorney Billy Murphy‘s cameo performance on “The Wire” Sunday night?

Here’s a synopsis of one scene with Murphy in it, from the HBO’s synopsis of the episode, Took:

State Senator R. Clayton “Clay” Davis tries to talk defense attorney Billy Murphy into taking on his case without receiving his full fee up front. Davis offers $25k up front and $25k when Murphy seats a jury. Murphy insists on his full $200K fee, but Davis counters that he’s giving him a great publicity opportunity going up against State’s Attorney Rupert Bond. Charmed, Murphy tells Clay to save his silver-tongued salesmanship for the jury.

And here’s from the ep’s Wikipedia entry:

Senator Davis appears in court, and it looks as though he is going to be heading to prison. With the amount of paperwork that Freamon and Sydnor got on Davis, it didn’t seem like he could get off. That was until he hired Billy Murphy to help him out with his case.

Let us know what you thought of Murphy and “Took.”

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

“Wire” fix: Ever wonder what the other half thinks?

If you’ve ever pondered how a “thug” would react to watching a couple eps of “The Wire,” you should read the second installment of NYT guest blogger Sudhir Venkatesh‘s account, published Friday. The first installment lives here.

An intro:

“A few weeks ago, I called a few respected street figures in the New York metro region to watch the upcoming fifth season. I couldn’t think of a better way to ensure quality control.”

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

The Wire fix: Kurt Schmoke on “the real Baltimore”

Former Mayor Kurt Schmoke tells readers of The Guardian what “the hit television drama … tells us about the city I governed and America’s war on drugs.”

Make sure you check out the comments below the column – where readers debate the merits of Schmoke’s opposition to the “War on Drugs” during his tenure as mayor.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor 

Daily Record mentioned in “The Wire” premiere

Did anyone catch the mentions of The Daily Record in the season premiere of “The Wire” last night?

In the episode, “More With Less,” fictional city desk editor Gus Haynes asks a colleague at The Sun about a wire story on city bus line cutbacks. He hears that the story was “broken by The Daily Record” and is disappointed in the lost opportunity. Later, at an editors meeting, the staff downplay the story’s importance and blame the missed story on staff buyouts that left the paper without a transportation reporter.

Self-promotion aside, what did you think of the episode?

If you missed it, it’ll air multiple times later this week on HBO.

JACKIE SAUTER, Multimedia Editor

P.S. Speaking of “The Wire,” check out Robbie Whelan’s story today on local hip-hop producers, featured on the show, who just signed a worldwide distribution deal.