The Wire
The Wire

Ed Burns, born 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, is a motion picture producer and writer. He was an Executive Producer and writer for The Wire. He has been active in television since 2000. He had worked as a police detective, teacher, and author prior to working on the series. He co-authored the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighborhood with The Wire creator David Simon. As a former Baltimore detective and public school teacher Burns often draws upon his experience for his writing.[1]


Burns served in the Baltimore Police Department for twenty years.[2] Burns is also a Vietnam veteran having served in the infantry.[2] Following his retirement he stumbled into teaching in the Baltimore public school system and later became a writer.[2]


Burns has said that he stumbled into teaching with little preparation because of the intense demand for teachers in inner-city schools.[2] Burns taught seventh grade students. Psychologically he compared the experience of teaching to Vietnam.[2] He found the experience profoundly challenging because of the emotional damage that the vast majority of his students had already experienced before reaching the classroom and felt that more than being able to teach his primary role was in modeling caring behavior.[2] He commented that he felt his major impact was in giving the children an example of an "adult who's consistent, who's always there, who always comes through with what he said, then that's a new world for them."[2]

The Corner

Template:See also In 1997 he co-authored, with Simon, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, the true account of a West Baltimore community dominated by a heavy drug market.[3] Simon credits his editor John Sterling with the suggestion that he observe a single drug corner.[4] It was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times.[5] An adaptation of the book, also called The Corner, was produced as a six-hour TV miniseries for HBO.[6] The show received three Emmy Awards.[6]

The Wire

Template:Seealso Burns is a writer and co-creator (also with Simon) of the HBO series The Wire. They originally set out to create a police drama loosely based on the experiences of Burns when working on protracted investigations of violent drug dealers using surveillance technology. During this time he had often faced frustration with the bureaucracy of the police department, which Simon equated with his own ordeals as a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Writing against the background of current events, including institutionalized corporate crime at Enron and institutional dysfunction in the Catholic Church, the show became "more of a treatise about institutions and individuals than a straight cop show."[7]

They chose to take The Wire to HBO because of their existing working relationship from the 2000 miniseries The Corner. Owing to its reputation for exploring new areas, HBO was initially dubious about including a cop drama in their lineup, but eventually agreed to produce the pilot.[7][8]

The theme of institutional dysfunction was expanded across different areas of the city as the show progressed. The second season focused on the death of working class America through examination of the city ports.[9] The third season "reflects on the nature of reform and reformers, and whether there is any possibility that political processes, long calcified, can mitigate against the forces currently arrayed against individuals." [9] Burns has called education the theme of the fourth season. The writing drew extensively on Burns' experience as a teacher. Rather than solely focusing on the school system, the fourth season looks at schools as a porous part of the community that are affected by problems outside of their boundaries. Burns states that education comes from many sources other than schools and that children can be educated by other means, including contact with the drug dealers they work for.[2]

Future projects

He is working on another collaboration with Simon - an adaptation of Generation Kill for HBO.[10]


Executive Producer

Season 1 credits
"The Target" "The Detail" "The Buys" "Old Cases" "The Pager"
"The Wire" "One Arrest" "Lessons" "Game Day" "The Cost"
"The Hunt" "Cleaning Up" "Sentencing"
Season 2 credits
"Ebb Tide" "Collateral Damage" "Hot Shots" "Hard Cases" "Undertow"
"All Prologue" "Backwash" "Duck and Cover" "Stray Rounds" "Storm Warnings"
"Bad Dreams" "Port in a Storm"
Season 3 credits
"Time after Time" "All Due Respect" "Dead Soldiers" "Amsterdam" "Straight and True"
"Homecoming" "Back Burners" "Moral Midgetry" "Slapstick" "Reformation"
"Middle Ground" "Mission Accomplished"
Season 4 credits
"Boys of Summer" "Soft Eyes" "Home Rooms" "Refugees" "Alliances"
"Margin of Error" "Unto Others" "Corner Boys" "Know Your Place" "Misgivings"
"A New Day" "That's Got His Own" "Final Grades"
Season 5 credits
"More with Less" "Unconfirmed Reports" "Not for Attribution" "Transitions" "React Quotes"
"The Dickensian Aspect" "Took" "Clarifications" "Late Editions" "-30-"

External links

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  1. The Corner: About the Author. Random House. Retrieved on 2006-10-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 A Teacher in Baltimore. HBO. Retrieved on 2006-10-03.
  3. The Corner: About the Book. Random House. Retrieved on 2006-10-03.
  4. Neil Drumming. High Wire Act. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2006-09-27.
  5. Notable Books of the Year 1997 - Non-Fiction. New York Times. Retrieved on 2006-09-29.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mary Alice Blackwell. Fun comes down to 'The Wire'. Daily Progress. Retrieved on 2006-09-27.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ian Rothkirch (2002). "What drugs have not destroyed, the war on them has".
  8. Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. New York: Pocket Books, 18–19, 35–39. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Richard Vine. "Totally Wired", The Guardian Unlimited. 
  10. HBO drafts cast for 'Kill' mini. The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2007-06-03. Retrieved on 06/01/2007.