NPR announced this afternoon that they have snagged to Peabody Awards. For comprehensive coverage of Afghanistan and the excellence of its web site, NPR.org, the 69th Annual George Foster Peabody Awards will honor NPR's Kabul Bureau Chief Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and NPR.org for overall excellence. Additionally, Diane Rehm, host of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU in Washington, is... read more>>
Former WaPo writer David Mills died of brain aneurysm Tuesday in New Orleans. A former newsman, Mills moved into entertainment, writing for television shows such as "NYPD Blue," "ER" and "The Wire." Mills attended the University of Maryland and most recently worked for HBO as a staff writer and co-executive producer on HBO's "Treme." He was 48.... read more>>
Soraya Sarhaddi, as I knew her, was one of my journalism students in the mid-80s. So was David Mills, who enrolled in two different classes I taught a few years earlier.
So was this Nelson fellow who gave Soraya her married name some years later. They were all fantastic students because, if for no other reason, they devoted their lives as I had to the school daily newspaper, the Diamondback. There was an implicit deal – mentioned in public last year by another student of mine, David Simon, creator of “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” – by which if the kids who worked like hell on the paper made even a token appearance in my evening class, they were guaranteed a B. If they did the work, an A. The point is that they learned more, by magnitudes, by doing rather than listening.
David Mills and David Simon were collaborators in raising hell on the college newspaper when I was both teaching and serving on the nonprofit board created to oversee publications so that they could be free from University administration control. This board would meet about once a month or so and demand to know WTF they were doing with the birthright of campus journalism we old guys left them. Secretly, of course, many of us were applauding their brand of journalism – and their swagger. They were later collaborators on some of the most riveting television dramas ever produced. And I mean EVER.
Mills was a pain in the ass but not in the way any college journalist should be. He was personally obnoxious to the point of repugnance, inconsiderate of people trying to help him, and through his writing then and later for the Washington Post, a fount of warped racial commentary from the perspective of a very light-skinned African American. The few times I saw him on television, or saw photos of him, he looked like he never lost the edge. He died of an aneurysm.
His death bothers me just as did the death a couple of years ago of a former professional colleague in that I just don’t know what to think or say about the passing of people I really didn’t like.
David Mills was amazingly creative as a television writer, and I hate it when talented people die young because we never know what else might have flowed.
He had a gift for dialogue and for words, in general. I wish I had better ones of my own right now.