TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Actor-director Clark Johnson on Hollywood, filmmaking, race and Obama

6 PM Mountain Time

Clark Johnson is an actor and director of vast experience. He’s best known for playing Det. Meldrick Lewis on seven
seasons of NBC’s
Homicide: Life on the Street, but one of his earliest roles was in two episodes of CTV’s The Littlest Hobo.

He also directed the blockbuster feature film SWAT which earned $207 million worldwide, television shows such as The Shield, Soul Food, NYPD Blue, The West Wing, Third Watch and La Femme Nikita, and the forthcoming feature Chinese Wall.

He has numerous Canadian connections, having lived in Canada since his teen years, once played in the CFL, and later acted in Canadian feature films On Their Knees and Rude, and Canadian television programmes including ENG and Night Heat, and the TV movie The Planet of Junior Brown.

His sister is Canadian jazz singer Molly Johnson, who was recently inducted into the Order of Canada.

Clark Johnson recently starred in season 5 of HBO’s The Wire as newspaper editor Gus Haynes, and directed the first two and the final episode of that series.

Stay tuned in the weeks to come on The Terrordome, when I’ll be presenting a feature series on The Wire, and what it says about race, policing and power in the United States.

I’ll be speaking with actors, directors, writers and producers of the series, as well as sociologists, political scientists, journalists, critics and others who are keenly interested in the impact of a show which has routinely been called the best American television series ever.

Clark Johnson spoke with me by telephone from his home in Toronto on June 3, when we discussed his career, Hollywood, filmmaking and race, and his work for the Barack Obama campaign. During our discussion, Johnson refers to “Simon,” namely, David Simon, the creator and executive producer of The Wire.

We started by discussing Johnson’s connections to his adopted home of Canada. I later asked Johnson about his work as a special effects artist on the film The Dead Zone, the 1983 adaptation of the Stephen King novel by Canadian director David Cronenberg. Along the way, Johnson discusses a sad truth of Hollywood—its continued racial exclusion.

Clark Johnson informed me during our discussion that he had been campaigning to help Barack Obama win the presidential nomination of the US Democratic Party. I asked him what he thought about how Barack Obama had dealt with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the influential Chicago pastor whom Obama used a springboard for his political ascendancy, only to condemn him when it became expedient.


Last fall, South African novelist Rozena Maart visited Edmonton on a book tour with her novel The Writing Circle. She joined us on The Terrordome for a discussion at that time. Rozena Maart has practiced psychoanalysis and worked as an English professor.

In 1987 when she was 24, Maart was nominated for the “Woman of the Year” award hosted in Johannesburg, for her work opposing violence against women and for starting, with four women, the first Black feminist organization in Cape Town, Women Against Repression [W.A.R]. She has been a researcher and writer for the Canadian Panel on Violence against Women.

Maart spoke in November with another African-Canadian programmer at FM88, Yo’vella Mizraahi-Ellis of the CJSR programme News Room. She discussed with Maart the vicious reality that fighting Whitesupremacy in apartheid and neo-apartheid South Africa did very little to address the violence and repression of malesupremacy.


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