TV in New Orleans

There’s a lot of talk about all the movies filming in New Orleans but Louisiana is also home to many television shows from A&E’s Duck Dynasty to the CW’s Star-Crossed. This Sunday, HBO’s Treme returns for its 4th and final season. I have been blogging about the show since its inception in April 2010 when I first watched it playing on a bed sheet in a back yard in the Treme. We all squealed when we saw the very house we were sitting behind fly across the “screen” in an early scene. It was clear from the opening credits that this show would be for and about New Orleanians and their amazing resilience and unendurable trials after Katrina. The show began 3 months after the Storm and will end sometime around Mardi Gras 2009, just months before I arrived. I had wanted the show to end with the Super Bowl win in 2010 – a happy ending if ever there was one.

This show is as lovingly made as The Wire and I can only hope it’s legacy is just as lasting as David Simon and longtime NOLA-resident Eric Overmyer’s last effort. For me, Treme is a time capsule of this city, holding images of the musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, local characters and businessmen as they double-down on their investment in keeping this culture alive. I feel beyond privileged to have played a small part in the telling of this story as the ex-wife of David Morse’s “Detective Terry Colson.” My character will be back for one scene in episode 4 of the 5 episode season.

The final season begins this Sunday, Dec. 1st at 9 p.m. (Eastern time) on HBO. You can see the trailer for the season HERE. The promo features many musicians I love including Theresa Andersson, Papa Grows Funk’s June Yamagishi, Jazz Henry of The Original Pinettes (winners of Red Bull Street Kings 2013), Dr. John and Kermit Ruffins (both of whom are also on NOLA-shot Top Chef).

HBO also brings us the highly anticipated “TV anthology” True Detective starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, and Michelle Monaghan. The show is basically an 8 episode mini-series about a 17 year manhunt for a serial killer. Again, I’m thrilled to be a part of this unique TV experience. On episode 4, I play a drug dealer’s mother being questioned by the 2 detectives. I loved working with my NOLA-shot Now You See Me co-star Woody Harrelson again and with the recent releases of NOLA-shot Dallas Buyer’s Club and  NOLA-shot Mud, McConaughey is clearly at the top of his game and ready for an award. You can see the latest trailer for the True Detective season HERE. The series debuts on January 12, 2014.

In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying the new season of FX’s American Horror Story starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. Previously, I’ve found the show too gruesome for my taste but this season is fun, sexy and clever pitting 2 historical characters against each other as immortals. The story takes place in a beautiful home just around the corner from my own. Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (Bassett) is running a hair salon in New Orleans when Lange’s character releases Delphine LaLaurie (Bates) from her grave. Delphine LaLaurie was a socialite in the early 1800’s when a house fire revealed that she’d been torturing and murdering her slaves for years. The city revolted and its citizens ransacked the house driving her away (perhaps to Paris). The show, of course, fictionalizes their stories but it’s fun to watch these epic women do battle.

It’s also fun to see all the local actors included in the American Horror Story: Coven cast. My Django Unchained co-stars Dana Gourrier and Dane Rhodes have both had roles as well as Lance E. Nichols from Treme and Treme’s Sam Malone who I met while doing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

And I’ve been enjoying Bravo’s Top Chef New Orleans. I’ve always been a fan of Top Chef, but I’ve really loved getting to see so many of our local chefs and musicians featured on the show. One episode took place at my favorite dining spot, Commander’s Palace, with chef Tory McPhail and former Commander’s chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prodhomme. Food superstars John Besh and Susan Spicer as well as legendary chef, Leah Chase of Dooky Chase have also appeared. Even 2 of this season’s contestants are NOLA chefs – Galatoire’s Michael Sichel and Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery.

Kermit Ruffins and Dr. John were also guests. I’m not sure the contestants knew what to make of Dr. John with his long hair, collection of beaded necklaces worn all at once, walking cane and taste for “hip tang.” These fabulous locals are one of the best reasons to film here. Our architecture, culture, music and food are unique but it’s the people and who define this place. Nowhere else is individualism so celebrated without ever losing site that we’re all in this together.

There’s a scene in American Horror Story when Kathy Bates’ character has tried to escape Lange’s character and locate her old house. Disappointed to find it a tourist site known for having been her house of horrors as well as the former home of Nicholas Cage, she sits defeated in her 1800’s garb. Lange sits next to her for awhile and as they walked off into their intertwined future, I laughed out loud realizing that no one would bother to ask why one of those women was wearing 1800’s clothing. “Normal” covers a lot of territory around here and you’re going to need far more than a petticoat or a large collection of beaded necklaces on a man to turn heads in New Orleans. Only in NOLA.

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Filed under Culture, entertainment industry, history, Local Cuisine

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