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 wendell pierce (2)

Friday
Jun172011

‘Treme’ Fact and Fiction: The Schools

By Lolis Eric Elie

Public education in New Orleans has gone from bad to complicated. Before the federal levee failures, the city’s public schools were among the worst in a nation filled with bad urban school districts. Since Hurricane Katrina, the school system has become the nation’s foremost laboratory for charter school education. For parents, that means a complex array of choices.

Charter schools have been part of the New Orleans school landscape for more than a decade - initially in very small numbers but, following Hurricane Katrina, the numbers have ballooned exponentially. Currently the overwhelming majority of public schools in New Orleans are charter schools. These schools operate under the oversight of one of three entities: the Orleans Parish School Board, which ran the city’s public schools prior to the levee failures; the Recovery School District, the entity created to administer and remediate "failing schools”; or the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which has chartered a few statewide schools. The New Orleans charter landscape features many styles of charter schools — some are part of national charter school organizations, others are locally-grown; some are part of networks or clusters of schools and others are stand-alone operations. By law, all charter schools in Louisiana must be operated by non-profit entities with locally-created oversight boards (meaning, they have legal standing in Louisiana, meet in Louisiana, etc.).

We are portraying three charter schools this season. Sofia Bernette (India Ennenga) is at Lusher Charter School. Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) is teaching at Theophile Jones Elie Elementary School and his girlfriend, Desiree (Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc), is working at Homer A. Plessy School. Only Lusher is a real school; the others are our creations.

Lusher, one of the state’s best schools, public or private, is chartered by the Orleans Parish School Board. It took over Alcee Fortier Senior High School after Hurricane Katrina. We alluded to that event in Season 1. Academically, things are going well there, on television and in life. But Sofia’s marijuana smoking hints at the fact that drug abuse is a problem for at least some kids at even the best schools.

Named for the 19th century civil rights leader, the Homer A. Plessy school is doing so well that Desiree asks the principal for help in getting a kid admitted. Things are not so enviable at Elie. There, the kids don’t even have band instruments and seem to misbehave the minute the band teachers walk out of the room.

Charter school advocates claim they have the statistics to prove that public schools in New Orleans are improving dramatically. However, critics of the reforms claim that the numbers have been manipulated to give a picture that is more rosy than the reality.

Tuesday
May032011

See ‘Treme’ Cast and David Simon at Louisiana Music Factory on Wednesday May 4th

By Lolis Eric Elie

For nearly 20 years, the Louisiana Music Factory has been the go-to place for local music. Indeed, when someone asks where they can find the music we play on our show, we usually direct them to the store’s website.

“It’s all things Louisiana, from the early traditional jazz to New Orleans rhythm and blues, to funk to brass bands to Mardi Gras Indians to Cajun and zydeco to gospel,” said Barry Smith, the store’s owner. “It’s pretty eclectic like the music in the region.”

One reason I’m a fan of the store is that they take an almost evangelical approach to promoting local music and musicians. They go beyond ordering product and putting it on the shelves. Their ongoing in-store concert series has been a boon to musicians who might otherwise get far more limited exposure.

Wednesday at 11 a.m. the in-store DVD-signing will feature stars of ‘Treme,’ including David Simon (our executive producer), Wendell Pierce (Antoine Batiste), Rob Brown (Delmond Lambreaux), Michiel Huisman (Sonny), Khandi Alexander (LaDonna Batiste-Williams) and Lucia Micarelli (Annie Tee).

“From the very beginning, we decided that we wanted live music and so we put performances as part of the business plan,” Smith said.

“It’s most Saturday afternoons throughout the year. During Jazz Fest we do a much bigger schedule on the weekdays surrounding the Fest so as not to compete with what’s going on at the Fairgrounds.

“A lot of our regular customers are total New Orleans fans and they were just buzzing about the series, so it felt like a great tie-in to do this while all these fans are here from around the country.”

The store is worth visiting even when it doesn’t feature ‘Treme.’ But, if you’re in town, why not kill two birds with one stone?

See the complete in-store performance schedule.