Robert F. Colesberry, 57, co-creator of `The Wire'

February 13, 2004

Robert F. Colesberry Jr., a New York-based film and television producer who was co-creator of the HBO drama series The Wire and executive producer of the Emmy-award-winning miniseries The Corner, died Monday in a New York hospital of complications from heart surgery. He was 57.

"He was responsible for bringing more than $100 million in film production to Baltimore," David Simon, a former Sun reporter and writer and executive producer for both series, said yesterday.

As executive producer of The Corner, Mr. Colesberry won a Peabody Award and an Emmy for best miniseries. He also received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for the film Mississippi Burning, and Emmy nominations for HBO's 61* and a CBS production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

Mr. Colesberry was a Philadelphia native and found his way into drama and film production in college after briefly playing baseball, a stint in the Army as an artillery officer and operating a bar in Wildwood, N.J. He earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 1973, and began working on productions in New York.

By the 1980s, he helped produce such films as Barry Levinson's The Natural, and Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy and critically acclaimed dark comedy After Hours.

Mr. Colesberry began his association with HBO in 1999, when he was brought in to help produce the six-hour miniseries based on The Corner, a nonfiction book by Mr. Simon and former Baltimore police Detective Edward Burns about a drug-ridden neighborhood in West Baltimore. It also won Emmy awards for writing and directing.

He returned to Baltimore for HBO in 2001 to help create the urban drama The Wire - in which he had a recurring role as a hapless Baltimore homicide detective. He directed the last episode of its second season and was to have directed the opening episode of its coming third season.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete.

He is survived by his wife of 12 years, Karen L. Thorson, also a producer of The Wire, two sisters, and 11 nieces and nephews.

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