'The Wire' update: Here are some cast members doing some very good work

With Felicia "Snoop" Pearson's guilty plea Monday to conspiracy to sell heroin, it seems like a good time to catch up with what some of the other cast members of the Baltimore-based series are doing.

And two of the finest actors in the series, Dominic West and Idris Elba, are about to help launch a prestigious drama showcase and series on BBC America next week.

On Aug. 17, BBC America is introducing a franchise called Dramaville, which will serve as a showcase for top British dramatic series and films. The network bills it as "the home of groundbreaking British drama." Elba, who played Stringer Bell with such power and grace, will serve as host.

If you need an old-school model to help you get your head around the concept think PBS "Masterpiece Theatre" and the late Alastair Cooke. I did say "old school."

Only Elba will also be featured in the series when his detective series "Luther" returns in September. The performance has earned Elba a lead actor Emmy nomination.

But here's the news that I find most exciting: BBC America will launch Dramaville on Aug. 17 with a new six-part mystery-thriller, "The Hour," starring Dominic West, a.k.a. Jimmy McNulty, of "The Wire." And West is terrific in the role of an anchorman on a BBC news program of the 1950s.

The series is terrific, too. Think "Good Night and Good Luck," the George Clooney feature film version of Edward R. Murrow's days at CBS News in the 1950s, with a bit of "Mad Men" thrown in. Yes, there is sex, sexism and tons of drinking and smoking and people desperate to advance their careers. Plus, you get tons of a crumbling social class system in post-World-War-II Britain.

I am really, really, really impressed by the performance of West in this series. BBC America made three of the six hours available, and I sped through them like a quart of mint ice cream on a hot summer's night. And after three hours, I still don't know quite what to make of West's character, Hector Madden. But I am fascinated by him and the younger female producer who is his boss -- and what's going on between them.

The casting on this series is through the roof: Romola Garai, Ben Whitshaw, Tim Pigott-Smith, Juliet Stevenson, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Oona Chaplin. The latter plays West's wife.

I'll have more on this in a Sunday print column that will also be published on this blog. But you can't mention former cast members of "The Wire" without mentioning Wendell Pierce.

What a whirlwind of hard and good work.

Here's a sample of tweets from Pierce from five days ago on his professional life:

"Please read about the work I'm doing with the Classical Theater of Harlem" to reopen with "Henry V."

"I'm shooting PARKER with Jason Stratham, Jennifer Lopez," Micahel Chilis and Nick Nolte. First day tomorrow."

And then, there's Wendell Pierce, actively engaged citzen of New Orleans and the united States. He's opening Sterling Farms fresh food groceries in his hometown, and yesterday, he tweeted about meeting with President Obama on other matters.

Eleven hours ago, Pierce also retweeted Idris Elba, who wrote this about the rioting in the UK: "I'm in London and this is (expletive). The Protesters and Rioters are not the same people anymore. Stupidity."

"London Come on! This ain't it!! Fallback from this (expletive)!!"

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