"Generation Kill" tests appetite for war on TV

Tue Jul 8, 2008 3:44pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The team behind critical hit television drama "The Wire" brings the Iraq War into U.S. living rooms this Sunday in HBO's "Generation Kill," taking on what has proven to be a dangerous minefield for Hollywood.

"Generation Kill" draws on the stories of real Marines from a reconnaissance battalion, without changing their names. One former Marine plays himself in the series, about a motley collection of soldiers entering Iraq at the war's outset.

It is based on a book by former embedded journalist Evan Wright, who chronicled the 2003 U.S.-led invasion through the eyes of Marines in the First Reconnaissance Battalion.

In a sign of how raw and reality-based the show's material is, more than a dozen Marines from the battalion still serve in the military -- and some are now fighting in Iraq.

HBO's "The Wire" earned strong reviews, wide praise and a Peabody Award for its gritty look at an urban police force trying to tackle crime and corruption in Baltimore, but its viewership, though very loyal, has remained relatively small.

Likewise, the major hurdle for the hard-edged "Generation Kill" is reaching audiences who, for the most part, have shunned war-related TV dramas and movies about Iraq.

But David Simon, who created the "The Wire" and "Generation Kill," told Reuters the opinions that matter most to him are those of the Marines.

"I don't make much attempt to worry about who's going to watch the show," Simon said. "You find a good story, you tell it as well as you can and whoever comes, comes."   Continued...

<p>Stark Sands (L) and Alexander Skarsgard are seen in an undated screenshot from HBO's "Generation Kill." REUTERS/Paul Schiraldi/HBO/Handout</p>