Levinson to turn 'Homicide' into TV series for NBC

This year, a Baltimore trash collector was immortalized in the television series "Roc." Next season, it may be the city homicide unit's turn.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson has optioned the rights to David Simon's recent book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," which chronicles a year in the life of 18 city homicide detectives, and plans to turn it into a series for NBC.


Mr. Levinson said yesterday he planned to begin shooting episodes of the hourlong series in Baltimore late next summer and that "if all goes well" the show would "probably be a midseason replacement" in the 1992-'93 season.

The project would be the first under an arrangement announced last March between the network and Mr. Levinson, a Baltimore-born filmmaker whose movies based and filmed in his hometown include "Diner," "Tin Men" and "Avalon."


Mr. Levinson said he had not yet thought about a name for the series, nor who would play the lead roles. "The first thing is to develop the scripts," he said by telephone from his Los Angeles office.

What appealed to him about the book, he said, was that it was a police story "without all the flash and the hype" of most crime books. "What I'm fascinated with is the guys in the unit -- what they do and what they're about."

He said he opted to turn "Homicide" into a TV series rather than a movie "so we can stay close to the book."

Mr. Simon, a Sun reporter who spent 1988 with the city homicide unit, said he was "very pleased" with the plans.

"This is Barry Levinson. He's very good with human-scale drama," said Mr. Simon, whose book was published by Houghton-Mifflin in May.