Now that Treme is all wrapped up and The Wire is cemented in its own wing of the Television Drama Hall of Fame, David Simon needs something to do. And he has a plan. He wants to make a decades-spanning, CGI-filled history of the CIA. The problem is that no one — and we’re looking at you specifically here, HBO — will let him make it.
From a panel discussion he participated in at the Tribeca Film Festival:
“I’ve got a story that I’d love to do, which I’ve been working on for eight or nine years, which is the history of the CIA, which would basically be America’s foreign policy footprint. But it’s 70 years of period piece filming, it’s all over the world, there’s a lot of CGI. Scene I, Act I is Berlin after the war, in total wreckage. And HBO goes, ‘Listen, it was all fun when we were giving him $20 million and he was making The Wire and no one was watching, but do you take us for fools?’ They’re looking at what the plausible revenue stream with all the downloads and BitTorrent. The window of this Golden Age of Television might have a point where it snaps shut on your fingers, because we’re talking like a Hollywood studio. ‘Can we get James Franco? If we get James Franco, you can make it.’”
This isn’t actually “new” news, for the record. Simon has been talking about this project for at least five years now. But it is worth mentioning because it appears from that quote that he’s been trying to get it made for almost a full decade now, to no avail. That sucks. I mean, I can see why HBO might not want to throw a hundred million dollars at a passion project from a guy who has a history of making wonderful shows that no one watches (which, yes, is a fantastically unfair overstatement of the problem, but is also a decent explanation for why this project is sitting on the shelf while HBO sends a convoy of 18-wheelers full of cash to the notably James Franco-less Game of Thrones set), but, man, I really want to live in a world where David Simon gets to make this show, “all the downloads and BitTorrent” be damned.