HBO's `Wire' earns a Peabody

Gritty drama, filmed here, wins for second season

April 01, 2004|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Twenty-eight programs, ranging from MTV/Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer to HBO's The Wire, a crime drama filmed in Baltimore, yesterday won Peabody Awards, one of broadcasting's highest honors.

In a first for the awards given for excellence in electronic media, a 29th Peabody was given to a Web site, Transom.org., an experiment in channeling new work to public radio via the Internet. The Peabody judges praised the Web site for "bringing new voices into the media mix."

The Wire, now in production for its third season, was described by the Peabody judges as "one of the most intense and complex narratives television viewers have seen."

"This feels good. This really feels like somebody got the show," David Simon, creator and executive producer of the series said yesterday.

"What makes it special is that they gave us the award for our second season, and that was Bob Colesberry's last work as a filmmaker," Simon said referring to his producing partner who died in February. "I feel like this honors his work and his commitment to making television that is more than just entertainment -- television with a social conscience."

It was the third Peabody for Simon, a former Sun reporter. He also won as a producer for the NBC series, Homicide: Life on the Street, and the HBO miniseries, The Corner. Both were based on books written by him (he had a co-writer for The Corner, former city detective Edward Burns); both were filmed in Baltimore. He served as a producer on Homicide and co-executive-producer on The Corner.

Overall, HBO won three Peabody Awards. The other two were for documentaries: War Photographer, on Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer James Nachtwey, and To Live is Better than to Die, a look at HIV/AIDS in rural China.

BBC America's The Office was the only comedy series honored. Showtime won for Soldier's Girl, a made-for-TV movie about a tragic transgendered romance at a military base.

Other Peabody winners included: CBS' 60 Minutes for a Steve Kroft report on abuses by military contractors; NBC News for a Tom Brokaw special on affirmative action at the University of Michigan and PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for economic reporting. Bill Moyers, host of Now, a PBS newsmagazine, was given a career achievement award.

The 29 winners of the 63rd annual Peabody Awards were selected from 1,100 entries by a 15-member board under the direction of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The awards will be presented May 17 in New York.

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