Couple of good stories about the cast members I thought might be of interest to fans. To me they emphasize what kind of show this is:
This is a link to a story about Benjamin Busch who plays a minor policeman role ( the one with the bad haircut and goatee) in Seasons 3 and 4. http://www.collegenews.org/x6078.xml
Here's a blurb about him from another site:
Benjamin Busch is an artist, TV actor, and Marine Reserve officer who served in the Iraq War. From April to July 2003, he commanded Delta Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, in eastern Iraq. During his time there, Busch shot hundreds of photos, some of which are on display here. When not in active service, he plays detective Anthony Colicchio in the HBO series, The Wire. His credits also include the TV series The West Wing and Homicide, Life On The Street. Busch has a wife and newborn daughter. On January 4, 2005, he was mobilized to redeploy to Iraq with a Civil Affairs Unit.
Melvin Williams plays a church deacon in Season 3. This is a story related by the show's creator of how he got cast:
Excellent show! Wouldn't miss an episode.
Question: How did you and Melvin Williams become friends.
This is amazing. True story:
In December 1984, Melvin Williams - a lgendary player in the Baltimore drug trade -- was arrested by Det. Edward Burns as a result of an investigation of more than a year that included cloned pagers, wiretaps, undercover reverse buys of drugs, etc. Because of Little Melvin's long history, I was assigned to write a longer piece on his life, a profile so to speak. Over two years, I gathered string on Melvin -- meeting and getting to know Detective Burns in the process -- and ultimately, I wrote a long, five-part series about Melvin that ran in January 1987. During the reporting for that series, I was able to talk at length with Melvin at Lewisburg Penitentiary.
Less than a year ago, after winning his release from federal custody on a parole, Melvin Williams, Ed Burns, myself and Norris Davis (who plays Vinson on the show and has a lot of street history of his own, I must say) met for lunch in Little Italy, enjoying each others company, reflecting on things past and possible futures. It was a remarkable lunch, one of the strangest and improbable gatherings to which I have ever been a party.
At one point, Melvin handed me a business card with his cell number and Ed, dry as dirt, looked up from his salad just long enough to say, "What I wouldn't have given for that twenty years ago." Melvin smiled at that, and later, he gave Ed -- the man who had run the wiretap that finally caught him talking furtively at city payphones, who had brought about his last conviction and longest incarceration -- a little tease back. Professing that he was now retired from the game, Melvin declared that he was grateful that he was now free, that he had some good years left and that he still had a little money to spend.
"We didn't find much of the money, did we?" said Ed.
"No," said Melvin, smiling slightly. "You didn't."
I genuinely admired the way these two guys handled that lunch. Like professionals. Nothing personal, just two men with a lot of shared history accepting each other on present terms.
Melvin is now very active in Bethel A.M.E. church and outspoken against the drug culture. It seemed perversely appropriate to cast him therefore as the Deacon. He seems real and credible to me in the role. Having paid his debt and served his sentence, I wish him well and look forward to getting an expensive lesson in billiards from him.