John Sin­gle­ton brings LA’s ’80s drug scene to life on FX.

Los Angeles Confidential - - Contents - BY AU­TUMN SI­MON

Twenty-six years ago, di­rec­tor John Sin­gle­ton ex­posed the world to the re­al­i­ties of South Cen­tral Los An­ge­les with his Os­carnom­i­nated film Boyz n the Hood—a tale of three African Amer­i­can boys plagued by gang vi­o­lence and the over­flow of cheap crack co­caine. Now Sin­gle­ton, 49, re­turns to the not-so-small screen with Snow­fall, which premiers July 5, to fol­low the rise of the crack epi­demic in the early ’80s that changed Los An­ge­les into an ur­ban war zone.

In what ways is Snow­fall au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal?

“Be­ing from Los An­ge­les, my life changed in the early ’80s when the crack game started. This show is like the pre­quel to Boyz n the Hood. It shows a time when peo­ple didn’t have bars on their win­dows. Then things started to get crazy. Gangs be­gan tak­ing over sell­ing crack in dif­fer­ent ter­ri­to­ries. It turned into a deadly war over money.”

How is the process for TV dif­fer­ent from film?

“With tele­vi­sion shows you have to find ac­tors who peo­ple want to watch over and over again. I hold the same stan­dard for di­rect­ing tele­vi­sion as I do my films. I want this to be the ghetto Game of Thrones be­cause ev­ery­one loves re-watch­ing the episodes of that show.” How did you make the show as au­then­tic as pos­si­ble?

“We talked to so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple from the com­mu­nity who lived dur­ing that era. And I my­self was a huge re­source for this project! I fo­cused on what out­fits peo­ple wore then, what shoes, and es­pe­cially what mu­sic they lis­tened to. At that time, hip hop was only on the East Coast, and Los An­ge­les was into soul—we were lis­ten­ing to the Gap Band and Chaka Khan. I tried my hardest to keep it as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble.”

Tell us about some of the char­ac­ters.

“I wanted to show that what hap­pened to LA was broad and af­fected many peo­ple—not just the black com­mu­nity. We have a white guy who is a CIA agent, a Mex­i­can wrestler who is an im­mi­grant but still try­ing to find his way, and a young black boy who is bussed to school in the Val­ley, where he even­tu­ally learns how to sell crack. All of these char­ac­ters were greatly changed by all this, and it’s great that we get to see their sto­ries.”

How would you sum up the show?

“I hope the ex­pe­ri­ence will be like when some­one first sniffs co­caine. I want view­ers to be­come as ad­dicted to it as soon as pos­si­ble… Se­ri­ously, it’s go­ing to be like noth­ing any­body has ever seen be­fore.”

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