TV series "Treme" puts New Orleans back on map

Wed Apr 7, 2010 9:46am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It's been more than four years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans but sadly the producers of "Treme" did not have to search far to find authentic locations for the new television drama, set just three months after the levees broke in 2005.

"I'm a little embarrassed that this far down the road we aren't more recovered," said actor Wendell Pierce, a New Orleans native who plays a smooth-talking trombonist trying to make ends meet. "It's like pulling teeth to get back on your feet in New Orleans."

"Treme," which debuts on cable network HBO on April 11, is named for the historic Faubourg Treme neighborhood near New Orleans' famous French Quarter.

The program follows a diverse group of musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians and bar owners as they try to rebuild their lives, clean up their homes and get their businesses back on their feet after Katrina.

The August 2005 hurricane broke New Orleans' levees, flooded 80 percent of the city and killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in a disaster compounded by slow and inconsistent relief efforts by the U.S. government.

Vast stretches of houses are still unfit for habitation due to flood damage and the city's current population is about 150,000 below its pre-Katrina level.


Brimming with songs and cameos by musicians like Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint and Dr. John, "Treme" is one of just a handful of U.S. movies and TV dramas about post-Katrina New Orleans and anticipation is running high for the series.   Continued...

<p>A woman looks at homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina in a marina on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 25, 2007. REUTERS/Lee Celano</p>