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

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Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- 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

To contact the writer on the story: Patrick Cole in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at