HBO picks up 'Wire' creator's 'Treme'

Wendellpierce_thewire_290 HBO is adding a new drama from "The Wire" creator David Simon to its roster, and the show will feature a couple of cast members from the Baltimore-set crime drama. But it won't be another crime story.

Instead, "Treme" will be about the lives of New Orleans residents who are making their way through life in the still-rebuilding city a few years after Hurricane Katrina. The showbiz trade papers say HBO is sill working out the number of episodes it wants; production is scheduled to begin in the fall.

"Treme" is named for the neighborhood in which it's set, an area adjacent to the French Quarter that was an early home for free black residents and carries a long history. The show will focus on several residents of the neighborhood, with a jazz musician ("Wire" alum and New Orleans native Wendell Pierce) front and center, who are trying to get by in the still-rebuilding city.

"We don't intend to make 'The Wire' twice," Simon tells Variety. "This is about people reconstituting their lives after their town was mostly, effectively destroyed. ... We're trying to be very intimate with people. And New Orleans is completely unique, there's nothing in the world like it."

The cast also includes Pierce's "Wire" co-star Clarke Peters and two other veterans of past Simon projects -- Khandi Alexander ("The Corner") and Melissa Leo ("Homicide"). Steve Zahn, Kim Dickens and Rob Brown also star.

Simon co-created the series with Eric Overmyer, a long-time New Orleans resident and writer on "Homicide," "Law & Order" and other shows. Agnieszka Holland directed the pilot.