by Kevin Allman
As we get ready for the premiere of Tremé (Sun. Apr. 11, 9 pm, HBO), we'll probably have more and more to write about the show, so we'll make a fresh new "Tremé" tag for the Blog of New Orleans. Some news on the show today:
1. Here's the official synopsis from HBO:
TREME begins in fall 2005, three months after Hurricane Katrina and the massive engineering failure in which flood control failed throughout New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the city and displacing hundreds of thousands of residents. Fictional events depicted in the series will honor the actual chronology of political, economic and cultural events following the storm.
The drama unfolds with Antoine Batiste, a smooth-talking trombonist who is struggling to make ends meet, earning cash with any gig he can get, including playing in funeral processions for his former neighbors. His ex-wife, LaDonna Batiste-Williams, owns a bar in the Central City neighborhood and splits her time between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where her children and new husband have relocated. Concerned over the disappearance of her younger brother David, or Daymo, unseen since the storm, LaDonna has turned to a local civil rights attorney, the overburdened and underpaid Toni Bernette, for help. The governments inconsistent and ineffectual response to the devastation has spurred Bernettes husband Creighton, a university professor of English literature and an expert on local history, to become an increasingly outspoken critic of the institutional response.
Tremé resident Davis McAlary, a rebellious radio disc jockey, itinerant musician and general gadfly, is both chronicler of and participant in the citys vibrant and varied musical culture, which simply refuses to be silent, even in the early months after the storm. His occasional partner, popular chef Janette Desautel, hopes to regain momentum for her small, newly re-opened neighborhood restaurant. Elsewhere in the city, displaced Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux returns to find his home destroyed and his tribe, the Guardians of the Flame, scattered, but Lambreaux is determined to rebuild. His son Delmond, an exile in New York playing modern jazz and looking beyond New Orleans for his future, is less sure of his native citys future, while violinist Annie and her boyfriend Sonny, young street musicians living hand-to-mouth, seem wholly committed to the battered city.
The ensemble cast of TREME includes Wendell Pierce (The Wire, HBOs documentary When the Levees Broke) as Antoine Batiste; Khandi Alexander (CSI: Miami, HBOs Emmy®-winning The Corner) as LaDonna Batiste-Williams; Clarke Peters (Damages, HBOs The Wire and The Corner) as Albert Lambreaux; Rob Brown (Stop-Loss, Finding Forrester) as Delmond Lambreaux; Steve Zahn (A Perfect Getaway, Sunshine Cleaning) as Davis McAlary; Kim Dickens (HBOs Deadwood) as Janette Desautel; Melissa Leo (Homicide: Life on the Street; Oscar® nominee for Frozen River) as Toni Bernette; John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as Creighton Bernette; Michiel Huisman (The Young Victoria) as Sonny; and classical violinist Lucia Micarelli as Annie.
HBO publicity shot of Khandi Alexander, photographed by the great Skip Bolen.
2. Maitri Erwin -- passionate Krewe du Vieux member and blogger -- has set up a new blog called Back of Town, where fans (and, I suppose, detractors) of the show can hash it out on a weekly or daily basis:
When good television, often the only modern link to other human intelligence, gives us the opportunity to think, discuss, debate and cry, its foolish not to take it, especially when this technology equally as fast as, if not faster than, television exists. (And, New Orleanians are nothing if not opinionated, especially if youre making a teevee show about their town.)
Check it out, and contribute if you like...
...and, finally, 3. Since this is the Internet, and since we are talking about New Orleans, there are going to be people who HATE Tremé before they see a single frame of film. Exhibit A is right here, and it's a gallimaufry, a ragout, a virtual "Where's Waldo?" word salad of D-U-M-B:
People really don't want these depressing shows about New Orleans. We get it, there was a hurricane, a lot of people died because of political incompetence and their own personal ignorance but do we need a hundred shows on television to talk about it? Not at all.
There is no city I hate more than New Orleans. Its police department is corrupt, the people there are rude and racist, the major "tourism" it gets is from a bunch of alcohol fueled frat boys and sorority girls looking for a few nights of exhibitionism and stupidity, and to be honest...the food isn't great either (I'll give that there were a few nice restaurants there but most serve substandard Cajun cuisine).
For the love of God, cancel this series and put money into television that actually entertains and provokes thinking (i.e. "Rome", "Deadwood", the future "A Game of Thrones") instead of these "Sex in the City" wannabes.
CAJUN cuisine in New Orleans??? Those are fighting words, SIR.
I said GOOD DAY.