Question: Is it hard to write for a show with a cult following?
Richard Price: No. It has a cultish following because it’s so riveting and I had been watching the show for two years before they approached me. So I was up to speed on every character. In fact, David Simon told me The Wire was based on Clockers. He wrote Homicide: A Year in the Life on the Streets and I wrote Clockers, both in 1992. We had the same editor, John Sterling. John Sterling put us together the night of the Rodney King verdict rioting. He and I had our first play date when we went over to Jersey City to watch the riots. So we’ve been friends since 1992 and he said Clockers is the book he meant to write so he did The Wire instead. You’ll see a lot of Clockers, especially in the first year or two. But he took Clockers. I never sort of rose about the trenches but he went all the way to the State Assembly. He went places I just didn’t have the smarts to go. I didn’t know enough. The Wire just became so panoramic that in fact, when he finally asked me to write for the show, my first reaction was to say no because I didn’t want to disappoint them because everybody thought since I wrote Clockers, I knew this stuff inside out. I emptied my pockets with Clockers. I thought these guys thought I had something special in a backpack. I was tapped but I got involved anyhow. They’re going to take what’s not working and make it work. That’s part of the collaborative medium.
Recorded On: 3/3/08