Wilmington, De., civic leaders have consistently decried violence in the city, but their voices have been more strident lately, thanks to the controversial plans of Baltimore-bred actress Jada Pinkett Smith, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. ABC has laid the groundwork for “Murder Town,” a new drama produced by and starring Smith as the city’s first African-American district attorney. (Wilmington actually has no D.A.; the city is under the purview of the state’s attorney general.) Last month, 20 religious leaders held a news conference to denounce the proposed TV series, and the City Council and mayor sent letters urging that it be set elsewhere.
Its flashy title was lifted from the headline of a year-old Newsweek article, “MURDER TOWN USA (AKA WILMINGTON, DELAWARE),” describing the city to a national audience as “one of the most dangerous small cities in America.” Longtime residents say the moniker is both damning and damaging, an unfair label applied by faraway executives unfamiliar with the true pulse of Wilmington. This year 25 people have been slain in the city of 72,000, Delaware’s largest municipality and a longtime business hub for banks, the DuPont Co. and other corporate giants. Mayor Dennis Williams, a former Wilmington cop, was only too happy to speak about it. “Naming Wilmington as the setting for a crime-fighting drama titled ‘Murder Town’ is insensitive to the families who have lost loved ones due to gun violence, as well as insensitive to those who proudly call Wilmington home,” he said.