TREME picked up by HBO

Was there ever any doubt?

Just in case you were nervous, word leaked out this week that HBO has indeed picked up David Simon’s post Katrina series Treme. The cabler has ordered ten episodes (pilot plus nine more).

HBO has not put out any official statement, but sources from the channel have confirmed that the scuttlebutt is indeed true.

Because hurricane season is coming, filming won’t resume until mid fall. The insurance company won’t allow filming during said season. Because of this, it is unlikely we will see an episode until late December or, more likely, early next year.

Garth Franklin of the fine Dark Horizons spoke with Steven Zahn about his upcoming film Management. The subject of Treme came up, this is what was said:

Zahn: I’m going to go do this – “Treme”, this HBO series that just got picked up.

Question: That’s Agnieszka Holland, isn’t it? Did she direct the pilot?

Zahn: Yeah. She directed the pilot. It’s David Simon, who did The Wire and Generation Kill on HBO. It’s his – you know, he produced and wrote that. And it’s really good.

Question: What kind of character did you play in that?

Zahn: It takes place, like, two months after Katrina. And it’s kind of the rebuilding of the culture and life there, after through the eyes of these jazz musicians. And the Treme is a neighborhood off the French Quarter. And I play this kind of really smart deejay guitarist songwriter. But he’s really an infamous guy there, and is – you know, angry and bitter, but is just really eccentric. Kind of the voice of the jazz scene, you know? He’s their spokesperson.

Question: How much preparation did you do for that? I mean, in terms of –

Zahn: A lot. I went down for two weeks, and I – he’s really into this second line dancing and everything. And, I was so blown away by it. I mean, really, six weeks of just kind of hanging. More prep for this than anything I’ve ever done.

Question: Do they have an air date yet?

Zahn: No. Not yet. I have no idea. We’re going to start shooting – because we have to shoot after the hurricane season, for insurance reasons, I guess. I don’t know. But we start in November. So I would imagine, like – you know, either in the winter some time, or in the spring. I don’t know.

In addition to Zahn, the cast includes Oscar Nominee Mellisa Leo (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Frozen River), Clarke Peters (The Wire, Damages), Wendell Pierce (The Wire), Khandi Alexander (News Radio, CSI: Miami), Kim Dickins (Deadwood), Rob Brown (Finding Forrester, Stop-Loss)and Ntare Mwine (Heroes).

One thing I am very curious about is how well they nail New Orleans. Part of what made The Wire so amazing was that the city of Baltimore was key part of the show. Mr. Simon is from Baltimore and that clearly helped make it feel authentic.

How good a job will Simon and co do with New Orleans. Considering they are filming there, I would imagine they will get an earful on any mistakes they make. It is my understanding that some of the writers are natives of the Big Easy.

I am totally jazzed (no pun intended) about this. Many of the problems that arose after Katrina are not unlike the issues that The Wire tackled during it’s five year run.

If anyone can do justice to the diversity of New Orleans, as well as the complexity of the aftermath of Katrina, it is David Simon.