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ADDITIONAL NOTES: series finale aired on 3/9/08
DESCRIPTION: (from HBO's web site, September 2008) One of television's most critically acclaimed programs, the Peabody Award-winning drama series 'The Wire' continues to challenge viewers with a "cop show" unlike anything on air. The fifth and final season of 'The Wire' centers on the media's role in addressing - or failing to address - the fundamental political, economic and social realities depicted over the course of the series, while also resolving storylines of the numerous characters woven throughout the narrative arc of the show. Explains series creator David Simon, "It made sense to finish 'The Wire' with this reflection on the state of the media, as all the other attendant problems of the American city depicted in the previous four seasons will not be solved until the depth and range of those problems is first acknowledged. And that won't happen without an intelligent, aggressive and well-funded press." This season of 'The Wire' is based in large part on Simon's experiences in 13 years at The Baltimore Sun. Simon decries recent trends in the newspaper industry that have conspired to make high-end journalism vulnerable: out-of-town chain ownership, an economic climate in which the share price of media companies matters more to industry leaders than the product itself, and a newsroom culture in which prizes, personal ambition and the cult of the "impact" story has replaced consistent and detailed coverage of complex issues as the primary goal. The first season of 'The Wire' (2002) concentrated on the often-futile efforts of police to infiltrate a West Baltimore drug ring headed by Avon Barksdale and his lieutenant, Stringer Bell. In Seasons Two and Three, as the Barksdale investigation escalated, new storylines involving pressures on the working class and the city's political leadership were introduced. Season Four focused on the stories of several young boys in the public school system, struggling with problems at home and the lure of the corner - set against the rise of a new drug empire in West Baltimore and a new Mayor in City Hall. Returning cast regulars from the first four seasons of 'The Wire' include Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, Lance Reddick, Wendell Pierce, Deirdre Lovejoy, Clarke Peters, Reg E. Cathey, Domenick Lombardozzi, Seth Gilliam, Aidan Gillen, Jamie Hector, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Doman, Andre Royo, Corey Parker Robinson, Tristan Wilds, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jermaine Crawford and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. New cast regulars this season include Clark Johnson ('Homicide: Life on the Street') as city editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes, Tom McCarthy ('Year of the Dog') as reporter Scott Templeton, Michelle Paress as reporter Alma Gutierrez, Neal Huff ('Michael Clayton') as Michael Steintorf, Mayor Carcetti's chief of staff, and Michael Kostroff ('The Closer') as attorney Maury Levy. Supporting cast members this season include Steve Earle, Frankie Faison, Anwan Glover, Method Man, Felicia "Snoop" Pearson and Amy Ryan. Among the directors this season are series veterans Dan Attias, Joe Chappelle, Ernest Dickerson, Agnieszka Holland, Seith Mann, Anthony Hemingway and Clark Johnson (who directed the first episode of 'The Wire,' and also directs its final episode). New directors this season include the husband and wife team of Joy Kecken & Scott Kecken and series regular Dominic West, in his directorial debut. The writing staff of 'The Wire' includes David Simon, who penned two books of narrative nonfiction, 'Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets,' which inspired the hit series 'Homicide: Life on the Street,' and 'The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood,' which inspired the Emmy(R)-winning HBO miniseries 'The Corner'; Ed Burns, a former Baltimore police detective and Baltimore city public school teacher, who coauthored the book 'The Corner' with Simon; William F. Zorzi, a former political writer and editor for the Baltimore Sun; and Chris Collins, an up-and-coming talent who served as staff writer last season and also wrote the award-winning documentary 'Disarm.' Also writing for the series this season are novelists Dennis Lehane ('Gone Baby Gone,' 'Mystic River'), George Pelecanos ('Hard Revolution,' 'Right as Rain') and Richard Price ('Lush Life,' 'Clockers'), as well as TV veteran David Mills, who was one of the writers and executive producers on 'The Corner,' and a writer for 'NYPD Blue' and 'Homicide: Life on the Street.' 'The Wire' was created by David Simon; executive producers, David Simon and Nina Kostroff Noble; co-executive producers, Joe Chappelle and Ed Burns; producers, Karen Thorson and George Pelecanos.