Exclusive David Simon Q&A (page 8)
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Exclusive David Simon Q&A Q: Does HBO send you notes and ask for changes?  Can you give us an example?  [anonymous]

A: They asked for that flashback in the pilot episode.  And being dependent on their goodwill in proceeding with the first season, I gave in and regret it to this day.  In a film like The Wire, flashbacks or voice-overs are simply destructive.

On a more positive note, Carolyn Strauss is a smart exec and a fan of the show.  If she thinks a plotline is being overstated - as she did this season where she felt that the fate of a particular character was way too telegraphed - she tells me so, and because she is watching with a sympathetic eye, but from outside the writers' room, she is usually right.  Similarly, if she doesn't understand what is happening in a story line, we are probably explaining too little.  She is a good barometer of our storytelling in that sense.

But it is hard for an HBO exec to give us story notes because the story is so ornate.  To pull out one scene is often to pull on the thread of a sweater.  Often times, our response to a note is to explain that yes, something does not yet make sense.  It will in two episodes.

In the first season, HBO wanted us to pull out a sequence in which Omar's crew robs a drug corner unrelated to the Barksdale organization (the first sequence in which Omar whistles his tune - "The cheese stands alone.")  They thought it confusing to have this moment where Omar, as yet a barely known quantity who had only been seen monitoring and then robbing a Barksdale stash, is now robbing someone else who has no relation to our story.  We urged that the sequence remain intact, if only to hold a place in the narrative for Omar until McNulty and Greggs sought him out in episode five.  Again, the HBO concern was legitimate only if you don't yet know who Omar is going to become in the context of the entire story.  So it's hard for the HBO guys to weigh in, I think.

And I think as the show has aged, they have learned to trust us more.  In the current season, all but two of the episodes were produced without a single note from HBO.  The two notes they sought were both good ones, however, and we honored them.

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