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HBO Crew Films Final Episode, Producer Eric Overmyer Talks about the Real NOLA
After three seasons on air and a mini-fourth set for editing, HBO’s Tremé is packing up their bags and leaving the Crescent City. While local opinion on the show ranges from love to disdain, most residents have grown accustomed to the film crews and celebrity sightings that began in March of 2009.
The Wire creator David Simon and Eric Overmyer decided to take their affection towards New Orleans and channel it towards post-Katrina reality.
Overmyer’s fondness for the city began long before his work on the HBO series. The producer has owned a home in New Orleans since 1989, and he’s spent a large portion of the last four years here. After seeing the ups and downs of Post-Katrina New Orleans, Overmyer said his knowledge bank expanded exponentially.
“I thought I knew a lot about the city, but I learned a whole lot about the musicians, the Mardi Gras Indians, the Krewes, and the culture,” he said. “I also learned that I didn’t know anything about the Indians, they’re pretty evasive,” he said. “I think you get a lot of contradictory reporting, it’s been grand to meet some of the people in that culture, really great for me personally.”
Even the show’s biggest critics have to admit, Simon and Overmyer made a valiant effort to make locals happy. Simon even wrote a letter to the city published on April 11, 2010, before the first episode aired. His disclaimer was an effort to prepare residents for inaccuracies to be peppered throughout the series.
One of the more famous ones happened right off the bat, when a character, chef Janette DeSautel, substitutes a Hubig’s Pie for an actual dessert and serves it to a customer in November of 2005. The most obvious issue with DeSautel’s decision is that Hubig’s didn’t reopen until 2006.
Eventually, most locals forgave the show for its anachronisms and missteps; many even rekindled old friendships with people who had HBO and tuned in on Sundays. The crew filmed their last episode on Lundi Gras, and producer Eric Overmyer said his final days on the set were “bittersweet.”
After decades of on-and-off living and a solid four years of residency, Overmyer remains humble about his time in New Orleans and the way the show painted her residents. “In our dealings with people we did pretty well, but occasionally we stepped on toes. I’m sorry about that,” said Overmyer.
One of the mistakes Overmyer cited was with paying local musicians. “We tried really hard to make sure that people got paid locally. We made some mistakes in the beginning, and people outside of the community were getting paid when they shouldn’t have,” said Overmyer. “We endeavored to do better.”
In addition to his growth as an insider/outsider producer, Overmyer’s understanding of the local climate expanded through his experience with the show. Issues of crime, corruption, policy, and education were all a part of the series. The producer said that if he had a “magic wand” for the non-television world, he’d focus on three areas in particular.
“Crime, and the schools. You might have said that before the storm,” Overmyer went on, “It’s hard to tell where the schools are going now. In some ways they’re better, but for how long? Who gets to get in the lifeboat and who gets left behind?” Overmyer pondered on the charter school system.
Later in the interview, Overmyer corrected himself and reinforced the production team’s affinity for Hubig’s. “If I had a magic wand, the Hubig’s factory would be rebuilt,” he said.
Although the producer said he’s “very attached to New Orleans,” he doesn’t have a magic wand to move his entire family and their lives down to the dirty south. However, Overmyer said he hopes he makes it back on a fairly regular basis.
The last shoots took place in Woldenberg Park and in the Ninth Ward, and Overmyer said they “felt right.”
“Our last day, we did a bunch of things with Wendell Pierce,” said Overmyer. “We did a couple of things in the morning about Woldenberg Park, we moved down to a school in the Ninth Ward and finished up down there,” said Overmyer.
Many viewers thought the last episode of Season Three gave a certain closure to the series, and discussion erupted about whether or not fans would get any more episodes out of Tremé. Overmyer said their original proposal was for four seasons, and HBO almost gave them what they wanted. “We made a proposal for four seasons, but I feel grateful [with three and a half].
After the next season airs, Treme will have given fans a total of 36 episodes. The date for Season Four’s premiere episode is still to be determined, but it will definitely air later in 2013.
“It’s a pretty unlikely show. In a dream world we would have done the Super Bowl and the BP Oil Spill, but it’s been great. I don’t have any complaints."
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Elizabeth Davas, Ian Hoch, Lindsay Mack, Anna Gaca, Jason Raymond, Lee Matalone, Phil Yiannopoulos, Joe Shriner, Chris Staudinger, Chef Anthony Scanio, Tierney Monaghan, Stacy Coco, Rob Ingraham,
Brandon Roberts, Rachel June, Daniel Paschall
Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz
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