'The Peacemaker': Malik Spellman mediates gang disputes

Thursday, Dec. 16, A&E premieres "The Peacemaker: L.A. Gang Wars," five half-hour episodes following gang mediator Malik Spellman as he tries to keep gang tensions in South Central Los Angeles from erupting into violence. Rapper and actor Ice-T ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") is the executive producer of the series and recorded the theme song.

"Malik and I became friends," says Ice-T, "and worked during the gang truce in '92 between the PJ Watts Imperial Court Crips and the Bounty Hunters Bloods in Watts. It was a very well-publicized moment in L.A. He was out there doing gang intervention at the time."

Ice-T appreciates Spellman's "passion" and also says, "He's real. He doesn't do this for any other reason. He's been doing this for years and not getting any money. He wants to save the 'hood. He wants to save black people and people nobody else cares about.

"He's got a niche dealing with hard-core people like the gang members, and he's real. He doesn't give up. I respect that."

By day, Spellman counsels about violence prevention and teaches life skills to middle-school students. Outside the classroom, he's dealing with gangs whose turf may only be a block apart.

In season one, Spellman works with opposing gangs run by brothers, tries to prevent a war in his own neighborhood after a gang member's pregnant girlfriend is killed, and tries to calm tensions after a game of dice erupts into gunplay in the Imperial Courts housing project.

Ice-T hopes the show's influence can spread beyond just the people featured in it.

"My real hope is, I hope the gangs call us and say, 'Hey, come over here and get us. Maybe you guys, the show, can help get our enemies together and bring them to the table.' I hope that a lot of gangs will see this as a positive thing and say, 'Hey, I hope this show can come and help us.'

"Also, I think it'll help show the world how complicated (the situation is) and give a more realistic view of what the gang scenario is in L.A."