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Q: Are you satisfied with HBO's commitment, promotion, and marketing of the show? [Glen in Pennsylvania]
A: I am grateful that they have so far financed and broadcast 56 hours of storytelling on my behalf. Could
The Corner or The Wire have been better marketed and achieved better viewership?
I don't know. The material is atypical for television, which is not usually known - in this country, anyway -- as a
thoughtful, deliberate medium. My stuff is a hard sell even if a network is doing all it can, particularly since
so many Americans regard their television sets as a means of relaxation rather than a means of provocation, and since many
of us limit our capacity for empathy and understanding to people who look like us, sound like us and live in neighborhoods
that we recognize as our own, or would like to imagine as our own if we made more money and could hang out, party with and
fuck a prettier class of people.
If The Wire resembles a novel for television - and I will claim that it at least has the pretensions of a literary novel -
then the question is obvious: How many Americans read novels? Not many at all. If you sell 80,000
hardbacks in this country you're likely to be on the NYT bestseller list. Eighty thousand book sales in a nation of
300 million. Jesus, that's appalling, especially considering the fact that a prose novel remains the most complex
and comprehensive storytelling form in our culture. And so now someone is trying to make a television show more
like a novel? Why? And to what purpose? It's amazing to me that HBO let us get this far and I have to
credit their courage and intellectual commitment before I begin complaining about their promotion and marketing.
That said, I do wish Time Warner had gotten the DVDs of previous seasons out to market in advance of the new seasons.
This is the first time that they've done so and here we are at the fourth season. But that's water under the bridge,
isn't it? We're here now and we've been allowed to tell our story, our way, with very little interference from
anyone at HBO. That is a real commitment and I recognize it as such.
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