Forest Whitaker Executive Produces

New Season Of Peabody Award-Winning Docu-Series Premieres On Sunday, January 30th 2011 at 8pm ET/PT

In Season 2 of the engaging and dramatic series BRICK CITY, change is a rollercoaster of exhilarating highs and heart-in-the-mouth plunges.  Sundance Channel’s Peabody Award-winning series returns to Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, to explore a question that people everywhere can understand:  how do you continue to change yourself, your community, your city when the setbacks come fast and furious?  The six one-hour episodes of BRICK CITY follow Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Police Director Garry McCarthy and Newark citizens from across the socioeconomic spectrum to tell a story of resilience, resolve and optimism in the face of political, economic, and personal upheaval.   BRICK CITY Season 2 will air Sundays at 8:00pm from January 30th – March 6th.

Forest Whitaker, executive producer, commented “I am proud to be part of this landmark project; BRICK CITY has been a break-through show both in content and style.  With unprecedented access on all sides, BRICK CITY chronicles the frontline dramas of a city struggling to move forward in this time of economic crisis. In these tough times, change comes hard but we still find hope.  This is not just Cory Booker or Newark, New Jersey’s story but America’s story.”

The first season of BRICK CITY concluded with the 2008 presidential election and the birth of a baby on New Year’s Eve.  Violent crime was down sharply and, despite the financial meltdown and the looming budget crisis, there was optimism in the air.  The new season picks up the thread in October 2009 as the political pendulum is swinging and the challenges facing Newark are mounting.  Mayor Booker is seeking a second term, and he’s also looking to settle down.  After years in a bachelor pad, he’s finally bought a home, a grand old beauty in dire need of repair.  The 2010 campaign season does not begin auspiciously for the mayor: the mortgage crisis is boiling, a former deputy is indicted, and the opposition lambastes him in the streets and on the campaign trail.  Booker’s opponents are also targeting his Bronx-born Police Director, Garry McCarthy, who in spite of a great track record, is viewed with deep suspicion by many in Newark.  In the midst of all this, Booker and his team are grappling with the city’s groaning deficit and the drastic cuts needed to reduce it.

Change on the personal level is every bit as dramatic and unpredictable.  For Dashaun “Jiwe” Morris – gang memoirist, charismatic youth mentor, devoted family man — the turnaround has been profound.  But now, everything he loves and has worked for is at stake: he’s been charged with attempted murder.  Jiwe has a formidable ally in his defense attorney, Brooke Barnett, a fearless, funny dynamo who works and plays at full tilt.  Brooke has made some big changes in her life, too; the self-described free spirit is happily in love and living with her new partner, Maggie.  Meanwhile, non-active gang members Jayda and Creep are busy with an adorable infant daughter, two bright grade school-age children and Jayda’s burgeoning non-profit mentoring program, Nine Strong Women.  But there are factions on both sides of the law that would be just as happy to see the couple fail.

Newark, New Jersey is known BRICK CITY for its architectural style, urban strength and human resilience.  The city has consistently been a battlefield of high stakes drama, and in the wake of the riots and rebellion that exploded in 1967, it became a symbol of American urban decline.  Over the past several years, the city’s ambitious urban renewal projects have captured national attention and acclaim.  This has resulted in new business development as well as philanthropic gifts, including the recent donation of $100 million dollars to the Newark school system from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Season 1 of BRICK CITY premiered on September 21, 2009.  Reviewing the series for the Washington Post, Hank Stuever wrote, “All you fans of The Wire, who went on and on about how real and gripping it was? It’s time to put your DVR where your mouth is and … watch BRICK CITY.”    In addition to winning a Peabody Award, BRICK CITY received an Emmy Award nomination in the Nonfiction Filmmaking category.

BRICK CITY is produced and directed by award-winning filmmakers Marc Levin (SLAM, SCHMATTA: RAGS TO RICHES TO RAGS, GANG WAR: BANGIN’ IN LITTLE ROCK) and Mark Benjamin (THE LAST PARTY, JAILS HOSPITALS AND HIP-HOP), who also created the series.  Academy Award®-winning actor and filmmaker Forest Whitaker executive produces.   Executive producers for Sundance Channel are Evan Shapiro, Sarah Barnett and Michael Klein.

The schedule for BRICK CITY Season 2 is as follows:

Sunday, January 30 at 8:00pm

Episode 1: “To Plea or Not to Plea”

We rejoin charismatic Mayor Cory Booker on his quest to make Newark, New Jersey a national model for urban transformation during a season when he is also running for re-election.  Controversial Police Director Garry McCarthy battles a rising surge of violent crime as he faces numerous political enemies.  Jayda and Creep, with baby Layla in tow, open their mentoring non-profit, “Nine Strong Women.”  Finally, there is Dashaun “Jiwe” Morris, author, gang member and father of three.  Charged with attempted murder, Jiwe and his dynamic lawyer, Brooke Barnett, face an excruciating decision: take a 6-year plea sentence or go to trial and risk the possibility of conviction and 81 years behind bars.

Sunday, February 6 at 8:00pm

Episode 2: “Arrested Development”

As they try to build new lives, Jayda and Creep are dogged by their pasts and become entangled in legal troubles.   Director McCarthy feels the heat as criticism mounts over police conduct and crime reporting methods.  Newly elected governor Chris Christie comes to Newark in an unexpected gesture of goodwill and diplomacy.  Mayor Booker conspicuously fails to mention his Police Director McCarthy in his annual State of the City address, raising speculation about the Director’s future in the administration.

Sunday, February 13 at 8:00pm

Episode 3: “The Haunting”

The shooting death of a young filmmaker at a notorious apartment project sparks a massive response by Newark police and activists, along with bitter criticism of Director McCarthy and the police department from Central High School Principal Ras Baraka and others.  Jiwe and lawyer Brooke Barnett gear up for Jiwe’s trial, while Brooke works to straighten out the mess surrounding Jayda’s arrest.  A former Booker administration official is indicted just as the Mayor’s re-election campaign kicks off.  Booker’s bitter rival, former mayor Sharpe James, returns from prison to a hero’s welcome.

Sunday, February 20 at 8:00pm

Episode 4: “Game On”

With the help of a local pastor, Jiwe attempts to organize a Blood v. Crip peace truce basketball game, but authorities in Newark have serious reservations.  As the budget crisis intensifies, labor union head Rahman Muhammad challenges Business Administrator Michelle Thomas, and Newark students pour out of school to protest state education cuts.  As the City Council elections approach, the Booker Team incumbent, Oscar James, tries to slow the momentum of his opponent, Ras Baraka.  Scandal again rocks the police department, and everyone waits to see if the Blood v. Crip game is on.

Sunday, February 27 at 8:00pm

Episode 5: “Election”

Politics is personal in Newark, and nowhere more than the raucous and highly passionate South Ward.  While Ras Baraka and incumbent Oscar James battle it out for the South Ward council seat, Mayor Booker takes to the streets to recapture public support.  Election Day arrives, and with it, uncertainty. Meanwhile, Director McCarthy decides to fight back as damaging allegations against him evolve into threats of violence. The tension escalates as the first witnesses take the stand in the case of State v. Dashaun “Jiwe” Morris.

Sunday, March 6 at 8:00pm

Episode 6 – “Judgment Day”

Mayor Booker convincingly wins a second term, but the drama continues as the Central Ward council seat goes to a run-off election.  Newark’s fiscal woes come to a head when the Mayor’s budget is rejected by a newly rebellious City Council that now includes two insurgents, Ras Baraka and Darrin Sharif.  Creep makes a big decision about his relationship with Jayda, and judgment day arrives for Director McCarthy and Jiwe.  Season 2 closes with what is arguably Mayor Booker’s most impressive accomplishment, announced during an appearance with Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg.