When dealing with serious and potentially flammable subject matter, especially something as cataclysmic as 2005's Hurricane Katrina, a TV show has to tread carefully. 'Treme', a 10-episode HBO miniseries focusing on post-Katrina New Orleans, does not tread at all. Instead, it dives deep under the floodwaters and resurfaces with the corpses of those dead and gone -- lest we forget the immense tragedy that unfolded there.
Where most shows would exploit the exploitable (the riots, the pillaging, images of dying or dead people, the Dome), 'Treme' takes a raw look at the aftermath through a series of vignettes. The viewer follows different families and individuals as they try to put the pieces back together. Sometimes those pieces are tangible, like the rotting structure of a flood-damaged home, and sometimes they're purely emotional, like the trauma caused by a relative missing for months.
But given that this is the latest effort from David Simon -- the much-heralded creator of the seminal HBO series 'The Wire' -- this drama proves to be so much more than just that.
Those expecting a Big Easy version of 'The Wire,' however, are out of luck. This is no police drama, and the city's politics are largely unexplored. The series takes its title from Faubourg Tremé, the historic New Orleans neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter thought to be the birthplace of jazz. And the music from this multi-cultural, multi-storied, proud yet battered city pulses like a heartbeat throughout.
There's been no shortage of talent gracing this drama. The ensemble cast includes 'Wire' vets Wendell Pierce (a New Orleans native) and Clarke Peters, Khandi Alexander, Kim Dickens, Melissa Leo, John Goodman and Steve Zahn, in his first regular TV series role. Guest appearances from musicians such as Allen Toussaint, Elvis Costello, Dr. John and Kermit Ruffins lend authenticity.
Nor has there been a shortage of media coverage leading up to 'Treme's April 11 premiere. Sadly, part of that has been due to the unexpected death of one of the team's writers, David Mills. But 'Treme' is also being hailed as more than just another television program: It's an event. While some have noted the series' meandering pace, many critics have been praising Simon and co-creator Eric Overmyer's new series for its ability to immediately transport viewers on a musical journey into the heartbeat and the heartbreak of this weird and wonderful city.
Read what the critics had to say after the jump.
Perhaps a smaller storyline is John Goodman's return to a regular TV series. Goodman has been in a couple of short-lived sitcoms ('Normal, Ohio' and 'Center of the Universe'), has appeared often on 'Saturday Night Live,' and done some voice-over work and cameos (he had a particularly good stretch on 'The West Wing'). So he has kept a somewhat steady television presence.
"There's the most enormous, fat black chick I've ever seen," he said. "She is enormous. Everyone's pretending she's a part of show business and she's never going to be in another movie." He even took on Oprah Winfrey, who's certainly no stranger to weight struggles or lasting success. "Oprah's another liar, a filthy liar. She's telling an enormous woman the size of a planet that she's going to have a career."
Set three months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the series will focus on how the neighborhood of Treme is rebuilding. The series comes from David Simon, creator of HBO's 'The Wire' and his collaborator on 'The Wire' and 'Homicide: Life on the Street,' Eric Overmyer.
'Treme' stars quite a few familiar faces such as Steve Zahn in his first series regular role, Khandi Alexander, John Goodman and Wendell Pierce.
Check out the video after the jump.
So when word came out that they were going to take on one of the most complicated issues in the country -- the effort to rebuild New Orleans in the aftermath of 2005's devastating Hurricane Katrina -- fans and pundits alike were both intrigued by the idea and dismayed at the wait for the project to actually materialize. Could the team from 'The Wire' find their magic again? And, if so, could even they do the subject matter justice?
Also in the news today: Meredith Viera will sit down with 'Britain's Got Talent' runner-up Susan Boyle, while Tori Spelling books a guest spot on the fourth hour of 'Today.'
See more of today's top TV headlines after the jump.
His new project is The Station, a CIA-based FOX comedy produced by Ben Stiller. It's about a group of covert operatives in South America who are there to install a new dictator. Sounds weird. I don't care. John Goodman's in it.
Goodman is one of those actors who has natural comic timing, but also possesses a dramatic capability absent from many of his comedic brethren, thus allowing him to put depth into his roles. Plus, he's one of those actors who makes everything better and more anticipated just by being tied to it. Who doesn't love John Goodman?
Ryan Seacrest gets a million-dollar payday, Paul McCartney books 'David Letterman,' Susan Sarandon and John Goodman join HBO's Dr. Kevorkian biopic and more of today's top TV headlines.
Maybe that's because TV dads never spend much time at work. (We're pretty sure everyone's fathers would sign up for that!) Step into the wonderful make-believe world where every day is Father's Day, and join us as we count down our 20 favorite TV dads.
I enjoyed Speed Racer when I was a kid. I haven't seen it in 25 years or so and I'd probably be horrified now by what my youthful tastes were back then, but I remember liking the race scenes and what the car could do. I remember wanting my first car to be one that would have buzzsaws come out of the front and a big lever that would come down underneath the car that would make it jump over other cars. That last feature doesn't seem like it would work to me, now that I think about it as an adult.
Anyway, the live-action version with Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, and Matthew Fox opens this Friday. And the early buzz is that it's not going to do as well as they were hoping it would.
This past Saturday, the 59th Annual Creative Emmy Awards were given out and aside from a few exceptions, the winners were no surprise.
The biggest event of the night came when American Idol won its first Emmy ever for "Outstanding Technical Direction." The spectacular "Idol Gives Back" episode was responsible for the Emmy, specifically the duet between Celine Dion and the late Elvis Presley. The honor is of particular interest because it gives AI a break in the second biggest losing streak in Emmy history, 22 losses. The record of 25 nominations without a win is still held by Newhart.
When you think of Revenge of the Nerds what comes to mind? Classic 80's movie? Naked sorority sisters? Morality story on how the meek can inherit the earth? Bush (and not the president)?
That's what came to my mind when I recently saw the film. However, something else popped into my brain as well while I was watching the end credits. Not only did a number of Nerds stars go on to other successful movies, but they also went and became fairly big television stars as well. Here are five who went onto small-screen fame.
I remember when I was a young man many years ago, watching a short-lived sitcom called Working Stiffs. I was enthralled with a very young and talented comic-turned-actor named Michael Keaton but even more so with the man who played his brother, Jim Belushi.
Since I was really just a kid, I was unable to be a real fan of John Belushi. Sure, I had heard about some of the stuff he did on Saturday Night Live and my parents talked about him a lot, but I was just too young to grasp his genius at the time. Jim, however, was a different story.
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