Updated: Call From 'The Wire' Creator Prompts Bethesda Venue to Cancel January Staging of Spinoff
References to TV show to be removed; play to be remarketed and rescheduled for spring after challenge by David Simon
A promotional poster for a play based on the HBO series "The Wire." Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club has since taken down the announcement.
Via Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club
This story was updated at 11:25 a.m. Dec. 13 with new information about plans for the performance in Bethesda.
A January stage adaptation of a spinoff of “The Wire” in Bethesda has been canceled after showrunner David Simon said the play would violate copyright.
Simon took to Twitter at around noon Tuesday to call out the show, titled The Wire: A Stageplay, which had been scheduled to run at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Jan. 13 and 14.
Rick Brown, the owner of Bethesda Blues & Jazz, initially said on Tuesday that plans for the play were "on hold" after Simon contacted the club.
On Wednesday morning, Brown told Bethesda Beat that the January performances will be canceled. Instead, the play will be renamed, removing the reference to "The Wire," and changing its marketing. It will be rescheduled for the spring.
In a series of posts on Twitter on Tuesday, Simon argued for the importance of always protecting copyright and wrote that someone else profiting off the HBO series is “unfair to all those who worked on the project.” He also joked about a kabuki production of the show in Hokkaido and “a phalanx of HBO attorneys” descending on Bethesda.
Have just been informed that a Bethesda dinner club is staging a play that it claims as a stage version of "The Wire." News to me. And to HBO, which has copyright and possession of that sucker. We need a word for whatever comes after chutzpah.
— David Simon (@AoDespair) December 12, 2017
As other Twitter users chimed in, some of them challenging his criticism as heavy-handed, Simon countered by saying he didn’t mind the play, but it needed to remove “The Wire” from its name.
Brown said Tuesday that the club management hadn’t realized there was a problem until Simon called the club Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re on hold right now,” Brown said. “We took it off the website for the time being until we get clarity from the people who are producing the show.”
The reason for the confusion, according to Brown, is that the production already had been staged this summer in Baltimore.
Johns Hopkins Medicine confirmed that The Wire: A Stageplay was performed the weekend of Aug. 18 in its Turner Auditorium. The play’s director gave an interview to a local blog about the show at the time.
Simon, who graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and the University of Maryland, College Park, was the creator and head writer of "The Wire," a critically beloved show ran on HBO from 2002 to 2008, centering around crime in Baltimore.
Further complicating matters is the fact that a man behind the play production was also involved in the HBO series "The Wire."
The play was advertised as a work of Lexington Terrace Production, co-written by Norris A. Davis Jr. and Nadir Y. Abdullah.
Davis played a small but recurring role on the series as Vinson, a rim-shop owner. In April, a GoFundMe in Norris’ name asked for $10,000 for what was described as “a spin off” to the show.
“Having worked with David Simon [and his writing partner] Ed Burns, I am the only one who can continue the spell binding drama,” the GoFundMe read.
There were no donations to the GoFundMe effort.
The Bethesda Blues & Jazz website posted a synopsis of the play, but it was removed on Tuesday. Lexington Terrace Production’s description described the play as beginning where the show left off:
“Avon Barksdale has just been released from federal prison. He and his Lexington Terrace Boys want control of their empire again; but Chris Partlow, the head of the Black Guerilla Family is determined not to give anything to the Barksdale Crew. Even so, an imprisoned drug lord named Ghost has the final word for both men.”
Simon did not respond to a message on Twitter seeking further comment. On Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for HBO said she would provide a response from the station, but did not. Davis did not reply to a Facebook message.