A: I loved it. I mean, it was really just for me getting to know a city through a TV show is unlike anything else because you get to see parts of the city that you probably might not get to see. And if the show does well, people take you in in a way that you get access to things you might not be able to get. So it reminded me of working on the show “Treme” in New Orleans. It was a similar experience where I felt like I got carte blanche access to stuff.
Q: What has feedback been like from the local residents?
A: It’s been surprising because I think one of the things that I just don’t realize is that as much as the hardships (his character Ronnie has) gone through, there is a community of folks who have had similar struggles. And I think one of those struggles has been like substance abuse or alcoholism.
And I was really taken aback … I was working on a film in New York and I was walking from the grocery store or something and somebody just stopped me and said, “Are you the guy from ‘The Chi’?” and I go, “Yeah.” And he goes, “You know, I was really, really upset when Ronnie started drinking again because that’s a struggle I’ve gone through. And I really wanted him to turn the corner.” So I just hadn’t thought of that sort of constituency of folks who have had that kind of unique struggle finding salvation in what he’s trying to go through. So that sort of resonated with me. But then of course, there’s other folks who are still upset that Ronnie killed Coogie, so it’s one of those two.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.