David Mills (writer)

David Mills (writer)

Infobox Writer

imagesize = 150px
name = David Mills
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pseudonym =
birthname =
birthdate =
birthplace = United States
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = Journalist, Television Writer
nationality = American
period =
genre =
notableworks = "The Corner", "Kingpin"
subject =
movement =
influences =
influenced =

website =

David Mills is an American author, journalist, and screenwriter and producer of television programs. He was an executive producer and writer of the HBO miniseries "The Corner", for which he won two Emmy Awards, and the creator, executive producer, and writer of the NBC miniseries "Kingpin".


In 1979, Mills graduated from DuVal Senior High School in Lanham, Maryland. Afterwards he attended the University of Maryland, where he was on the staff of "The Diamondback", the independent student newspaper. While he was a student, Mills published "This Magazine", a tabloid that failed after three editions. Later, he and a group of his friends published "Uncut Funk", a newspaper that focused on the music of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.

After graduating, Mills became a features writer. He worked for "The Wall Street Journal", "The Washington Times", and "The Washington Post". Among the many articles he wrote, Mills produced a number of controversial celebrity interviews.

Professor Griff

In 1989, Mills interviewed Professor Griff, a member of the hip hop group Public Enemy, for the "Washington Times". During the interview, Griff made a number of antisemitic remarks. [cite web|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/music/pe-law.php|title=The Shit Storm|accessdate=2007-07-07|author=Robert Christgau|date=1989|publisher="LA Weekly" ] [cite web|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/rock/pe-90.php|title=Jesus, Jews, and the Jackass Theory|accessdate=2007-07-07|author=Robert Christgau|date=1990-01-16|publisher="The Village Voice" ]

ister Souljah

Mills spoke with activist and rapper Sister Souljah in 1992 for the "Washington Post". During the interview, the two spoke about the race riots that had taken place weeks earlier in Los Angeles after a predominately-white jury acquitted four police officers who had been videotaped while beating a black motorist named Rodney King following a high-speed car chase.

The most controversial portion of the interview came when Mills asked Souljah whether violence was a rational response to outrage. Imagining the thoughts of a participant in the riots, Souljah said that it was: [cite web|url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/74018923.html?dids=74018923:74018923&FMT=ABS|title=Sister Souljah's Call to Arms|author=David Mills|date=1992-05-13|publisher="The Washington Post"|pages=B1 ]

Mills: But even the people themselves who were perpetrating that violence, did they think it was wise? Was that wise, reasoned action?

Souljah: Yeah, it was wise. I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people? You understand what I'm saying? In other words, white people, this government, and that mayor were well aware of the fact that black people were dying every day in Los Angeles under gang violence. So if you're a gang member and you would normally be killing somebody, why not kill a white person? Do you think that somebody thinks that white people are better, or above and beyond dying, when they would kill their own kind? [cite web|url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/74032325.html?dids=74032325:74032325&FMT=ABS|title=In Her Own Disputed Words|accessdate=2007-07-08|author=David Mills|date=1992-06-16|publisher="The Washington Post"|pages=A7|archiveurl=http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/3/3-512.html|archivedate=1992-06-19 ]

Within weeks the interview achieved national fame — one sentence of it, that is. Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton criticized Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition for inviting Souljah to speak at its convention. Quoting Souljah as saying "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?" Clinton said that "if you took the words 'white' and 'black' and reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech". [cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE5DB153EF937A25755C0A964958260|title=Clinton at Jackson Meeting: Warmth, and Some Friction|accessdate=2007-07-08|author=Gwen Ifill|date=1992-06-14|publisher="The New York Times" ] [cite web|url=http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-18614088.html|title=Redeeming the Race Card|accessdate=2007-07-08|author=Terry Eastland|date=1996-09-02|publisher="National Review" ]


Homicide: Life on the Street

In 1993 Mills wrote the script for an episode of '. The program was based on a book, ', by David Simon, a college friend of Mills.Cite web|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9804E4DA103BF931A35755C0A9649C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2|title= TELEVISION/RADIO; Revisiting Baltimore's Embattled Streets|accessdate=2007-10-11|publisher=The New York Times|year=2002|author=Hal Hinson] Simon was also a writer and producer of the show.

The program, called "", which featured Robin Williams as a guest star, aired in January 1994 as the second season premiere.cite episode
title = Bop Gun
episodelink =
series = Homicide: Life on the Street
serieslink = Homicide: Life on the Street
credits = Stephen Gyllenhaal
writers = Tom Fontana, David Simon, David Mills
network = NBC
station =
city =
airdate = 1994-01-06
season = 2
number = 01
] Mills named the episode after a Parliament song, "Bop Gun (Endangered Species)"; the killer's motive, the viewer learns at the end of the program, was anger over the destruction of a rare record by Eddie Hazel, a member of Funkadelic. This was the first of many P-Funk references that Mills would incorporate into his screenplays. Mills and Simon won the WGA Award for Best Writing in a Drama for "Bop Gun".cite web
author = Cynthia Rose
title = The originator of TV's 'Homicide' remains close to his police-reporter roots
publisher = Seattle Times
accessdate = 2006-09-28
url = http://web.archive.org/web/19990428142656/http://www.seattletimes.com/news/entertainment/html98/dave_021899.html
] Mills wrote two more episodes for "Homicide", one each in 1995 and 1998.


At a professional writer’s seminar during 1994, David Milch, the co-creator of "NYPD Blue", tried to explain why there were so few African-American screenwriters. He said that "in the area of drama, it was difficult for black American writers to write successfully for a mass audience". In response to Milch's comments, which were made public by "The Washington Post", Mills wrote a letter in which he challenged Milch's assumptions concerning Black writers. As a result, Milch hired Mills as a writer for "NYPD Blue". [cite web|url=http://www.salon.com/sept97/media/media970922.html|title=Racist — or realistic?|accessdate=2007-07-07|author=Joyce Millman|date=1997-09-22|publisher=Salon.com ]

Mills wrote nine episodes of "NYPD Blue" between 1995 and 1997. In one of those episodes, "Closing Time", recovering alcoholic Andy Sipowicz begins drinking again and is beaten by a group of young men who steal his gun. Before the men confront Sipowicz, they are arguing about whether Bootsy Collins or Larry Graham is the better bass player. This is another one of Mills's P-Funk references in his work.

Looking back on his experience working on "NYPD Blue", Mills would later write, "Milch didn't hire me just to get Jesse Jackson off ABC's back. He gave me a shot, I rose to the occasion, and he became a true mentor to me." [cite web|url=http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com/2007/06/sing-along-with-milch.html|title=Sing Along with Milch|accessdate=2007-07-07|author=David Mills|date=2007-06-07|publisher= [http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com Undercover Black Man] ]


Between 1997 and 1999, Mills wrote four episodes of "ER".

The Corner

During 1999, David Simon was asked to adapt his book "" into a miniseries for HBO. Simon invited Mills to co-write and co-produce the six-part miniseries, also called "The Corner".cite web
author = Mary Alice Blackwell
title = Fun comes down to 'The Wire'
publisher = Daily Progress
accessdate = 2006-09-27
url = http://www.dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP/MGArticle/CDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173350356360&TheWireHBO
] The critically-acclaimed program, which ran during 2000, was awarded three Primetime Emmys. Simon and Mills won the award for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special, they shared the award for Outstanding Mini-Series with two co-producers, and director Charles S. Dutton won the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special.

In another P-Funk reference, Mills named his production company Knee Deep Productions, a reference to Funkadelic's 1979 hit "(Not Just) Knee Deep".


Mills's next project was the development of an original miniseries for NBC. "Kingpin", a six-part series that aired during 2003, was a drama about the head of a Mexican drug cartel and his business and family lives. It was expected to be network television's answer to HBO's hit series "The Sopranos", but lackluster ratings forced NBC to cancel plans to extend the miniseries into a full-length series.

The Wire

In 2006 Mills was reunited with Simon as part of the writing staff for "The Wire".Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_4.shtml|title="The Wire" season 4 crew|accessdate=2007-10-14|publisher=HBO|year=2007] He co-wrote the story and wrote the teleplay for "Soft Eyes", the second episode of the fourth season.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 39 Soft Eyes
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode02.shtml
] cite episode
title = Soft Eyes
episodelink = Soft Eyes (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
serieslink = The Wire (TV series)
credits = David Mills, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-09-17
season = 4
number = 02


During 2006 Mills wrote one script for the short-lived "Conviction".


In 1998, Mills and some of his fellow "Uncut Funk" authors edited various interviews they had conducted with P-Funk members over the years. The resulting book, "George Clinton and P-Funk: An Oral History", was published as part of the "For the Record" series, edited by music critic Dave Marsh.


External links

* [http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com Undercover Black Man] , David Mills's blog
* [http://www.uncut-funk.com "Uncut Funk" archives]
* [http://kintespace.com/rasx40.html The Undercover Black Man Interview] , an interview with David Mills, 2007-07-31


* David Mills, Larry Alexander, Thomas Stanley, and Aris Thomas, "George Clinton and P-Funk: An Oral History" (New York: Avon Books, 1998). ISBN 0-380-79378-4

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