City leaders are respond to “Murder Town,” a new TV show pilot set in Wilmington.
Last year Wilmington picked up the nickname “Murdertown, USA” after a Newsweek article reported the city’s alarming homicide rates.
Now ABC is using that name for the title of a new pilot TV drama—and city leaders aren’t pleased with the negative branding.
“Do I think ABC is being shortsighted? I absolutely do. I think this is ridiculous,” said Mayor Dennis Williams, D-Wilmington.
“We want to set an example for children, we want to thrive with business, but this is not the way to do it.”
Jada Pinkett Smith is set to star and produce the legal drama “Murder Town,” which tells the fictional story of Delaware’s first African American District Attorney who works on a “polarizing, racially-charged case” following the murder of her husband.
In 2014, FBI statistics revealed Wilmington’s rate of violence is 1,625 per 100,000 residents—more than quadruple the national average.
Political leaders and community activists say they have been working to improve those numbers, and now worry the TV show’s title will be a setback.
“If there’s a show that’s going to accurately show our city and our city’s fight trying to end the violence that’s one thing, but if you want to use our city as a backdrop and play off our hurt, I don’t think that would be the right way to go,” said City Councilman Nnamdi Chukwuocha.
Charles Madden, executive director of the non-profit organization HOPE Commission, said the show’s title is disturbing and unfortunate.
“It doesn’t help the brand of the city, so it affects all who live and work in the city,” he said.
“I think it’s just another opportunity for leadership to begin to develop a comprehensive plan to address these major concerns that we continue to be confronted with, so that we’re not seen as a murder town.”
Williams said he believes the show will be a “flop,” but if it is successful he said it could be a money making opportunity for the city.
He said if ABC decides to shoot in Wilmington, crew will spend money on restaurants and hotels, and he would even consider creating a law that would allow the city to charge ABC $100,000 for every block they use.
“If they want to come here and make a movie or sitcom, why should I jump up and down?” Williams said. “They’ve already written all kinds of stories about Wilmington, maybe we’ll get some economic development about this.”
He said Wilmington may have to work harder to dispel its reputation portrayed in the media if the show is a success, however.
“Every time we get a knock back we have to pick ourselves up and run a little bit faster, and I’m not going to be deterred by what people say about this city,” Williams said.