David Simon's Next Great Challenge: The Trump Administration

David Simon - 2014 Future of Film Panel - Getty - H 2018
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

David Simon and Nina K. Noble's production company, Blown Deadline Productions, turns 20 years old in 2018. In conjunction with HBO, they've produced groundbreaking series including The Wire, Treme and The Deuce, tackling serious social and political issues along the way.

But Simon's latest HBO pilot has gone through two major iterations and is still not ready to get off the ground, all thanks to one person: Donald Trump.

Simon has had a Capitol Hill-set series in the works at HBO for three years, but it's undergone some significant changes since its initial iteration.

"We wrote it, we imagined a world in which a normative, sane, experienced politician from either the center left or the center right would occupy the White House and Congress would continue to be overmoneyed. ... Since Gingrich, it's basically been back and forth in the White House with a partisan Congress," he explained to The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman in a conversation about the 20th anniversary of Blown Deadline. But the status quo is no longer. "We wrote that. Trump. So we threw that out."

Next, he rewrote it "based on Trump being the farcical, inept creature that he was in the early weeks."

Then Congress passed the sweeping new tax bill, proving that maybe things could change.

"He's a floor show, but he's also a cypher, politically," Simon said. "Congress now can affect incredible change. Second script thrown out."

Now, the challenge is to figure out how to capture the current political climate in a series.

"We're working to try to deliver that. I think it's important to address this moment when the Republican South and all of our democratic norms and all of our systemic checks and balances, when they're tottering," Simon said. "If you do what we do, which is address politics, there has to be a way to address this. But to go right at it, it's a moving target. As fast as you think you've surrounded what's possible, it falls over into some new insanity. What can you write that can circumnavigate porn stars and Russian bots targeting voters in Wisconsin counties? As soon as you think you've got a head for this it's like, 'No, no we'll show you something. Stay tuned.' That's on the agenda: How do we deliver that political piece now for this moment? It's going to be a struggle."