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HOLLYWOOD -- In a move that could boost the city's psyche and pump millions into its economy, cable giant HBO is developing a new TV drama to be set in the New Orleans music community. "Treme," named after the iconic New Orleans neighborhood where many musicians live, will marry one of television's most prestigious networks with creator David Simon, one of television's hottest series masterminds.Simon created HBO's the "The Wire," which just completed a five-year run. While not a huge ratings success for the network, "The Wire" was one of the most critically acclaimed shows in television history.Simon confirmed that HBO will film the first episode of "Treme," possibly sometime later this year. If HBO gives the green light for more episodes, production would resume in 2009.Simon, a frequent visitor to the city and a longtime New Orleans music fan, said this week that the stories told in "Treme" would reach beyond the music scene to explore political corruption, the public housing controversy, the crippled criminal-justice system, clashes between police and Mardi Gras Indians, and the struggle to regain the tourism industry after the storm."It's basically a post-Katrina history of the city. It will be rooted in events that everybody knows," Simon said. "What it's not going to be is a happy stroll through David Simon's record collection. It should not be a tourism slide show. If we do it right, it (will be) about why New Orleans matters."
The day after the parade, Simon took a drive around New Orleans. He said, “This show will be a way of making a visual argument that cities matter. ‘The Wire’ has not really done that. I certainly never said or wanted to say that Baltimore is not worth saving, or that it can’t be saved. But I think some people watching the show think, Why don’t they just move away?”
HBO and David Simon filled in some details late last week about plans for shooting the new pilot for the HBO dramatic series "Treme," inspired by the New Orleans music community.To write the script for the pilot episode, Simon consulted with Donald Harrison Jr., Kermit Ruffins and Davis Rogan.Eric Overmyer, a sometimes New Orleans resident with writing and production credits including "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "The Wire," collaborated with Simon on the "Treme" pilot script and is expected to write and executive produce for the series.A former Baltimore Sun crime reporter, Simon made his move to writing for TV via writing books. His first, "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," was adapted into the NBC cop drama "Homicide: Life on the Street." The later "The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood" was made into an HBO miniseries.Location scouting already has begun in New Orleans. Casting will begin soon, but production issues surrounding the practicality of shooting during hurricane season could affect the show's timeline."If it were up to me, I'd shoot it in the fall," Simon said in a recent interview. If the pilot pleases HBO, shooting on regular-season episodes could begin as early as late winter or early spring, provided subsequent episodes could be written in time.Simon said he expects the mix of imported actors and locals to match the cast of the Baltimore-set "The Wire," which used non-Baltimore actors for most of its lead roles. "We're looking to use local people when we can," he said.Though the show's main storylines will focus on musicians, other elements of the city's unique culture will be spotlighted. One of the pilot script's principal characters, Simon said, runs a restaurant. The pilot story begins two or three months after Hurricane Katrina. If "Treme" goes to series, each season would advance New Orleans' recovery story by one year.
"The Wire" creator David Simon is recruiting some old friends for his new HBO pilot "Treme.""Wire" alums Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters are set and Khandi Alexander, who worked with Simon on "The Corner" is in final negotiations to star in "Treme," which Simon created with Eric Overmyer."Treme," which takes its title from an area in New Orleans and is executive produced by Simon, Overmyer and Nina Noble, is a post-Katrina-themed drama that chronicles the rebuilding of New Orleans through the eyes of local musicians.Pierce will play Antoine Batiste, an accomplished jazz trombonist who is now scratching for gigs, trying to support a live-in girlfriend and a new baby, while still carrying a torch for a failed marriage to Ladonna Batiste (Alexander), the mother of his two children, who is single-handedly keeping her bar afloat. Peters will play Albert Lambreaux, a big chief of the White Feather Nation trying to bring the tribe's members home.Alexander is coming off CBS' "CSI: Miami" where she spent seven seasons. She could return to the show as a guest star, reprising her role as medical examiner Alexx Woods.