"Brick City" is a curious entry in this year's Emmy race. Often there's tough competition between reality TV shows starring shockingly dysfunctional people, but this Sundance Channel series spotlights a whole shockingly dysfunctional city: Newark, N.J.
"Brick City" is "an involving, often moving, slice of Newark city life," notes Newark's Star-Ledger. It stars a mayor and police chief, gang members, teachers, real estate developers and others trying to survive – and save – a once-great city now beset with gang wars, crime, illiteracy and racial strife during disastrous economic times. Its co-creators/directors Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin strived to "capture real people inside the establishment and outside on the streets, trying to make a difference," says Levin.
Benjamin adds: "We're witnessing what's happening in a city that's going through this dream of transformation."
"Here's a city that had such a bad reputation and look how it's struggling to change," Levin says. "This is a microcosm of much more than Newark. It's Gary, Ind. It's Baltimore. It's St. Louis. It's East L.A."
The TV academy is still weighing category eligibility, but "Brick City" will compete either for best nonfiction series or exceptional merit in nonfiction filmmaking plus crafts categories.
Click the right-pointing arrow below to listen to Gold Derby's full podcast chat with Benjamin and Levin. (It begins with just Benjamin, but then Levin connects with our chat.) Also check out their video discussion below. Here's the series' website.
Photo: Mayor Cory Booker addresses the Newark Police Academy graduation ceremony. Credit: Sundance Channel