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 hubig's (2)

Sunday
Apr172011

David Mills Scholarship Established

By Lolis Eric Elie

'Treme' Executive Producer David Mills

On March 30, 2010, David Mills collapsed on the set during the filming of an episode of 'Treme.' He died shortly thereafter of a brain aneurysm.

The cast and crew of the show gathered in Washington Square Park, in New Orleans’ Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, the morning after David’s death. Later, we gathered in City Park to dedicate a live oak tree we had sponsored in David’s memory. Mary Howell, one of the consultants on the show, and the inspiration for the Toni Bernette character, came up with the idea. “I felt like we wanted to do something to mark a place for David here, in New Orleans, putting down some new roots, like he was doing,” she said.

While the “magic Hubig’s” had become something of an icon of ‘Treme,’ we didn’t realize the impact these confections had had on David Mills until we discovered a case of them in his office after his passing. Tom Piazza, one of the ‘Treme’ writers contacted Hubig’s to secure the appropriate pies for the occasion. The labels echoed a line from our promotional posters, which in turn echoed an old Mardi Gras Indian couplet.

David Mills 1961 – 2010
Won’t Bow. Don’t Know How.

This year, on the first anniversary of David’s passing we gathered around a tree in City Park that we purchased specifically as a memorial to him.

Before ‘Treme,’ David Mills had never been to New Orleans. That seems odd in retrospect in that he was something of a music geek, the kind of person you’d expect to visit New Orleans with much the same enthusiasm as pilgrims visit Our Lady of Medjugorje. But David was more P-Funk than Fats Domino.

David Mills and David Simon were old friends and ‘Treme’ was a great chance for them to work together again. Once here, Mills grew to love the city ­-- its music, its casino and of course, those Hubig’s pies.

I’ve often lamented that I didn’t get to spend more time with David, learn more from him and about him. But, as David Simon noted at our memorial, David Mills tended not to say much when the topic of conversation was David Mills. “He would tell me certain things, but it was in his time,” Simon said. Simon and Mills had known each other since the two of them worked as reporters on ‘The Diamondback,’ the University of Maryland’s student newspaper. Still, Simon’s memorial portrait of his friend was drawn from three decades in which Mills dispensed details of his life by the teaspoonful.

"David also always steered the conversation toward what was at stake for the characters as individual human beings,” Tom Piazza said. “ ‘Treme’ has a strong thematic dimension, and it grapples with large issues of society and culture. David, dependably, would reel us back in to questions of character, and motivation, and emotion."

Mills created a blog. There he opined on everything from music to politics, from Smith & Wesson’s eau de toilette fragrance, to President Barack Obama’s over use of the pronoun “I.” After David’s death, his nephew, Clifton Porter II, wrote a memorial entry, and posted it on the UBM site. He captures a side of his late uncle none of us in David’s professional orbit had any clue about.

In the ‘Treme’ writers’ room, the place where we brainstorm about the direction of the show, David Mills was the constructive skeptic. He wasn’t so enamored of New Orleans that he would let us wallow in Crescent City sentimentality. He asked tough, smart questions and the show was better for it.

Still, criticizing is easy, or at least easier than offering up your own ideas. While each of us writers made contributions, large and small, David Mills contributed one particularly brilliant suggestion, the idea of using our final episode to go back in time and see how our characters prepared on the day before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. ‘Treme’ is not a show about a hurricane; it’s about people rebuilding their lives in the wake of a great catastrophe. We didn’t dwell on the storm in the early shows. But by our final episode it was time we revisited the event that gave rise to our story.

When David suggested the idea of dedicating the last show to a flashback, it was one of the few times when all the writers in the room immediately agreed. In that moment, David Mills, the sometime hell raiser and muckraker, took a turn as consensus builder.

A scholarship in David’s name has been created at the University of Maryland. For more details, please visit, http://davidmills.umd.edu/about.php.

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.