Producer David Simon, Director David Cromer Win $500,000 Grants

David Simon
Emmy Award winning producer David Simon. Simon, whose television writing and producing credits include HBO's ``The Wire'' and ``Treme,'' received a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation ``genius grant'' for his deeply-layered portrayals those facing struggles in urban life. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images for the MacArthur Foundation

David Simon, the Emmy Award-winning producer of the Home Box Office’s series “The Wire,” and New York theater actor and director David Cromer are among the 23 winners of the 2010 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grants.

“They are explorers and risk takers, contributing to their fields and to society in innovative, impactful ways,” MacArthur Foundation President Robert Gallucci said in a statement. “They provide us all with inspiration and hope for the future.”

The $500,000 grants are paid out over five years in quarterly installments. The Chicago-based foundation is named for John D. MacArthur, who owned Bankers Life & Casualty Co., now a unit of Carmel, Indiana-based Conseco Inc., and his second wife, Catherine.

Simon, 50, a former crime reporter at the Baltimore Sun, is also the screenwriter and producer of HBO’s “Treme.” He was cited for his television dramas that view urban life “through the lens of a hard-edged, cautiously optimistic realism,” the foundation said.

Cromer, 45, gained wide acclaim for his off-Broadway staging of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” in which he also starred as the Stage Manager. The foundation said Cromer deserved a MacArthur grant because he restages established plays “with a spirit and urgency that resonates with contemporary audiences.” In the fall of 2011, Cromer plans to direct a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’s “Sweet Bird of Youth” starring Nicole Kidman.

Yiyun Li

Other winners include Beijing-born novelist Yiyun Li, the author of the short-story collection, “Gold Boy, Emerald Girl (2010). Li, who originally came to the U.S. to study immunology at the University of Iowa, teaches at the University of California at Davis.

Genre-blending jazz pianist composer Jason Moran was noted by the foundation for a body of work that incorporates classical music, blues, jazz and hip hop. A teacher at the New England Conservatory, Moran collaborates with visual and performing artists using new technology.

Sculptor Elizabeth Turk transforms marble into ‘‘strikingly, intricate, seemingly weightless objects that defy expectations of a traditionally monumental, heavy and prone-to-fracture material,’’ the foundation said. One of her signature works from a series called ‘The Collars’’ will be on view at Hirschl & Adler Galleries in New York next month.

Drew Berry, 40, an animator at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, has captured biological concepts such as cell death and tumor growth through multidimensional renderings. Carlos Bustamante, 35, has studied DNA for clues about population patterns.

For more information on the MacArthur Foundation, and winners’ biographies, see

2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellows

Amir Abo-Shaeer Physics teacher Goleta, California Jesse Little Doe Baird Linguist Mashpee, Massachusetts Kelly Benoit-Bird Biologist Corvallis, Oregon Nicholas Benson Stone carver Newport, Rhode Island Drew Berry Animator Melbourne, Australia Carlos D. Bustamante Geneticist Stanford, California Matthew Carter Type designer Cambridge, Massachusetts David Cromer Theater director New York, New York John Dabiri Biophysicist Pasadena, California Shannon Lee Dawdy Anthropologist Chicago Annette Gordon-Reed Historian Cambridge, Massachusetts Yiyun Li Fiction writer Davis, California Michal Lipson Physicist Ithaca, New York Nergis Mavalvala Astrophysicist Cambridge, Massachusetts Jason Moran Jazz pianist New York, New York Carol Padden Sign language La Jolla, California Jorge Pardo Artist Los Angeles Sebastian Ruth Violinist Providence, Rhode Island Emmanuel Saez Economist Berkeley, California David Simon Producer Baltimore Dawn Song Computer security Berkeley, California Marla Spivak Entomologist St. Paul, Minnesota Elizabeth Turk Sculptor Atlanta