|Occupation||Journalist, Television Writer|
|Notable work(s)||The Corner, Kingpin|
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.
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:
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?
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".
In 1993 Mills wrote the script for an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. The program was based on a book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon, a college friend of Mills.[7 ] Simon was also a writer and producer of the show.[7 ]
The program, called "Bop Gun", which featured Robin Williams as a guest star, aired in January 1994 as the second season premiere. Mills named the episode after a Parliament song, "Bop Gun (Endangered Species)"; one of the criminals featured in the episode claimed he shot someone in 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". Mills said of the episode, "That script inspired me to quit journalism. It was a golden opportunity, even though I didn't know what I was doing. I developed bad habits as a newspaper feature writer. I would always stretch a project to fill the available time." 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.
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."
Between 1997 and 1999, Mills wrote four episodes of ER.
During 1999, David Simon was asked to adapt his book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood into a miniseries for HBO. Simon invited Mills to co-write and co-produce the six-part miniseries, also called The Corner. 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.
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.
In 2006 Mills was reunited with Simon as part of the writing staff for The Wire. He co-wrote the story and wrote the teleplay for "Soft Eyes", the second episode of the fourth season. He returned as a writer for the fifth season. He was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award award for Best Dramatic Series at the February 2009 ceremony for his work on the fifth season.
During 2006 Mills wrote one script for the short-lived Conviction.
Mills is currently collaborating with Simon on Treme, a series expected to air on HBO beginning in 2010.
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.