Lyndsey Beaulieu was born and raised in New Orleans but moved away to attend the University of Virginia. After college she lived in Los Angeles where she became part of the HBO family as an assistant at the HBO offices, then as a Writers' Assistant on ‘Big Love.’ She has been with ‘Treme’ since the pilot and currently works as the Writers' Office Coordinator.

 

Entries in facts (3)

Friday
Sep212012

Who or What Is NOAH?

By Lolis Eric Elie

NOAH. Such a helpful sounding name. The Biblical Noah used his ark to save all the animals. Thanks to Bill Cosby, that Noah's still famous. Now Noah's landed in New Orleans, paddling in on a pirogue, to save the survivors of a drowned city. If only...Any connections between a certain Biblical rescuer and NOAH, the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership agency are purely coincidental.

When NOAH was first tapped to provide post-Katrina remediation service, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said it would help low-income and elderly citizens gut their houses. Dozens of contractors were hired to do the work. In most cases, it amounted to only a few thousand dollars per house, though in some cases contractors were paid as much as $8,000. This wouldn't have been such a bad thing if the work actually took place. But in too many cases, little or no work was done. In some cases, NOAH contractors put up their signs and took credit for work that other folks had done.

Karen Gadbois, a citizen-cum-journalist was curious about NOAH’s doings. While investigating the city's suspicious list of houses to be demolished, she came across those NOAH signs and started to look closer at the remediation program. She published what she found and what she didn't find on a blog she founded called Squandered Heritage

For all the bad things that NOAH did and all the good things if failed to do, in the world of 'Treme' it must be credited with at least one good deed: it brought together two of our characters, Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda) and Desiree (Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc). In our story, Nelson is working for NOAH and Desiree, shall we say, is not.

Wednesday
Sep192012

The News Before the New Season

By Lolis Eric Elie

The first thing we do when we develop stories for 'Treme' is look at the real-life news events that took place during the time period of the upcoming season. We use these news articles as guides and backdrops. Sometimes they figure directly into our stories. Sometimes we use some details while excluding others. Sometimes we make stuff up. Our show may be fact-based, but ultimately, it’s fiction.

Our third season covers the period from the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2008. Here are some of the headline stories that took place in or near the relevant period.

Summer 2007

As if living in a FEMA trailer isn’t bad enough, news reports confirm fears that things are worse than originally thought. Not only are the trailers contaminated with formaldehyde, the government knows it and still allows people to live in them.

May 2007

Using blighted houses in the St. Roch neighborhood as a backdrop, Kirsha Kaechele and her KKProjects host several art happenings. Sophisticates, gutter punks, young transplants, art critics and visiting celebs all check out the work.

Former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas is appointed to head the Recovery School District of Louisiana.

June 2007

Former NOPD officer Lance Schilling, 30, commits suicide, about a month before his scheduled trial for the videotaped beating of Robert Davis, a 64-year-old retired schoolteacher. The beating took place on Bourbon Street shortly after Hurricane Katrina.

Beauty salon owner Robin Malta is found beaten to death inside his home in Faubourg Marigny. His death devastates the neighborhood where Malta was well-known and much-loved. Later, it becomes clear that the New Orleans Police Department bungled the investigation.

July 2007

George Brumat, owner of the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, dies in his sleep of a heart attack at age 63. Brumat’s club, the premier modern jazz club in New Orleans, was one of the first venues to reopen with live music after Hurricane Katrina.

A grand jury refuses to charge Dr. Anna Pou with murder in the deaths of Memorial Medical Center patients in the nightmarish days after Katrina.

August 2007

Jeremy Davis, a mentally disturbed 23-year-old man, leaps from an ambulance on his way from University Hospital to a state psychiatric hospital in Mandeville. He dies the following day at University Hospital. Family members cite the closing of Charity Hospital as a factor in his death, as it necessitated his transport to the North Shore for treatment.

Councilman-at-Large Oliver Thomas pleads guilty to accepting bribes. 

Terry Johnson, 26, and Chauncy Smith, 30, are shot and killed in a hail of AK-47 gunfire after a recreation league basketball game in the Treme neighborhood. Terry Johnson was a material witness in a pending murder case.

Levees.org accuses the American Society of Civil Engineers of whitewashing a report of its findings regarding the culpability of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the New Orleans levee failures. Later, Levees.org releases a video spoofing the report; ASCE comes out against the video and criticism.

Five homeowners sue New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and his administration for demolishing their homes under the city’s imminent-health-threat law. They contend that the homes were salvageable.

The New Orleans Musicians’ Union holds a silent second line in order to bring attention to hardships facing local musicians post-Katrina.

President George W. Bush dines at Dooky Chase, which reopened after $500,000 in repairs.

September 2007

New Orleans’ first-ever inspector general, Robert Cerasoli, starts work. The Massachusetts veteran comes in with $250,000 in the 2007 budget earmarked for his office, but finds himself without an actual office or working phones on his first day of work. In true New Orleans fashion, the office of inspector general was actually approved by voters in 1995, but it took Katrina and a renewed interest for it to finally happen.

News reports indicate that Mayor Ray Nagin bought a 1,700-square-foot townhouse in Frisco, TX, a suburb of Dallas, on May 31.

Brad Pitt announces his $12 million Make It Right project to build 150 affordable, storm-safe, environmentally-friendly houses in the Lower 9th Ward. The project promises to build houses by world-renowned architects on homeowners’ existing parcels of land.

October 2007

Trombonist Glen David Andrews and snare drummer Derrick Tabb are arrested at a second line held in memory of New Birth Brass Band tuba player Kerwin James. Andrews was reportedly back on the street the following night in another procession.

Southern University at New Orleans students and faculty hold a rally to protest the slow pace of rebuilding the predominantly black university’s campus. It’s the only New Orleans-area institution of higher learning that hasn’t returned to its campus.

Ambitious plans for a National Jazz Center in the Central Business District are effectively scuttled when the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which would have been an anchor of the center, is sold.

Bobby Jindal, an Indian American, is elected governor of Louisiana. In a show of New Orleans’ changing racial politics post-Katrina, for the first time in decades, white politicians secure majorities on the New Orleans City Council and Orleans Parish School Board, as well as several judgeships long held by black judges.

District Attorney Eddie Jordan resigns amid accusations of incompetence and the loss of a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Monday
Apr112011

Fact and Fiction in Treme

By Lolis Eric Elie

David Simon has laid out his vision of how fact and fiction are blended to make his style of television. He opened the first season of Treme with an open letter to viewers in New Orleans. In Rafael Alvarez's companion book, 'The Wire: Truth Be Told,' David wrote an extended introduction, providing even more detail about his approach as exemplified in the show for which he is best known.

As one of the 'Treme' writers and a former metro columnist for The Times-Picayune, I have my own take on how we blend history and imagination to create this show. The truth is the body on which we sew the clothes of our story. Parts of this body are so perfectly formed, our story must fit exactly and not allow imaginative flights of fancy to ruin the plain telling of our tale. Other parts benefit from a bit of creativity and fiction.

LaDonna Batiste-Williams, played by Khandi AlexanderEnough philosophy of fiction, what about examples? Season 1 was rich in that regard. Daymo, LaDonna's lost brother, was arrested for a minor offense the day before Hurricane Katrina struck. He got "lost in the system," was shuffled through a series of jails and ultimately died in custody under mysterious circumstances. In those turbulent days and weeks, thousands of prisoners, many charged with minor offenses, shared similar experiences of being "lost" while families searched frantically to locate their loved ones.

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman contends that no Orleans Parish prisoner died under his care as a result of Katrina. Since Katrina, there have been 28 deaths of persons in custody at the Orleans Parish jail, a number that is felt by many to be troubling.

On Sept., 11, 2009, the Department of Justice issued findings that the jail violated the constitutional rights of persons in custody due to violence in the jail, inadequate classification systems and lack of proper diagnosis and treatment of the mentally ill. Their report paralleled many of the conclusions drawn by the ACLU in a report issued 11 months after the flood.

The scenes in which Creighton Bernette (John Goodman) loses his temper, first with a BBC reporter and later with an NPR reporter are not based on specific incidents in which journalists misreported the nature and causes of the flood that nearly destroyed New Orleans. Rather, they are based on a pattern of such misreporting that has infected most news coverage of New Orleans near-death experience. Even today, everyone from newscasters to President Barack Obama repeats the demonstrably false notion that Hurricane Katrina was so strong, it was responsible for the city's near-death experience. As Harry Shearer has painstakingly pointed out in his documentary, 'The Big Uneasy,' shoddy work by the United States Army Corps of Engineers doomed the city. Katrina was merely the catalyst that put these failures on center stage.

Still, the facts don't always conform to other components of the stories we wish to tell. In his open letter, David alluded to the "magic Hubig's" a pie we created in the first episode of Season 1, despite the fact that Hubig's pies had not re-opened by November of 2005, when the episode is set.

The "magic Hubig's" will certainly be joined by other similar re-arrangements of post-Katrina chronology. In some instances we will write so as to take advantage of facts we know now about incidents in 2006-2007 that were not generally known at the time. In other instances we will have to cram a month's worth of facts into one hour of television time. For this, we beg your indulgence. Our aim is to provide you with compelling stories that are based, sometimes loosely, on what happened.