co-creator of 'Treme' David Simon
During the run-up to Sunday's (April 24) season-two premiere, Times-Picayune and www.NOLA.com readers were offered the opportunity to pose questions to "Treme" co-creators David Simon and Eric Overmyer.Race, workload, and pets are the topic.Click here to read the full Q & A
Mardi Gras Indians documentary 'Bury the Hatchet'
New Orleans filmmaker Aaron Walker has proven that he "won't bow down," as the Mardi Gras Indians say in his stirring new documentary "Bury the Hatchet" (read movie review) -- but, despite his tempered demeanor, Walker can be excused if he does a little jumping for joy.His film, examining New Orleans' Mardi Gras Indian culture -- a film that doesn't even have a distributor yet but which opened Friday (Aprill 22) for a weeklong run at the Chalmette Movies anyway -- has been collecting awards and positive notices since even beforehe finished it last fall.
First came a Grand Prize and Intangible Culture Award at England's Royal Anthropological Institute Festival of Ethnographic Film after a work-in-progress screening there in July 2009. In 2010, at October's New Orleans Film Festival, Walker was named Louisiana Filmmaker of the Year for the completed film.
And now, after being handed a slot at the prestigious Hot Docs documentary film festival, which unspools later this month in Toronto, one gets the feeling this promising little film could be on the verge of something big.
"I hope," Walker said this week. "I hope it's starting to roll and snowball. It got accepted in Hot Docs, and that's one of North America's most prestigious festivals. And literally the day after it was accepted, I was getting calls and emails from distribution agents, sales agents. A guy in France called me; he's got some festivals and he wanted to see a screener. You know, all these different other festivals -- instead of me bugging them, it was like 'Oh, send us a screener and we'll waive the fee.' "
But don't mistake all that to mean "Bury the Hatchet" is an overnight success story.
This is a film that took more than six years to make.
"I guess it was in '04," Walker said, recounting the origins of "Bury the Hatchet," which started as a 20-minute profile of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles, whom Walker had met while working on a music video in which Boudreaux had a cameo.
Continue reading here
Oscar-winner Melissa Leo as Toni Bernette.
What made you want to do this role?
It was less about the role in this particular instance because I didn't know that much about [Toni Bernette] except she would be an attorney. Everybody says civil rights -- I don't call her a civil rights attorney myself. Bleeding heart, maybe. But mostly it was David Simon. I had worked with him years ago on 'Homicide,'' and I wanted back on television. He called and proposed what making an ensemble once a week television show might look like, with the writers driving the carriage. And that sounded really interesting. He sent me some pages. I thought, "There's no way in hell I'm dressing up like a sperm come Mardi Gras." And then you cut to several months later and I've been down here awhile and I've seen the goings-on in the street and I would have been a fool not to dress like a sperm come Mardi Gras.
In preparing to play Toni Bernette, what did you have to do?
Preparing to work is a continual process, especially playing someone who is a small part of a larger whole with a great huge arc to get through -- not only this show but also this season and in all good hope, five years of quality television. So what you are calling a preparation, what you're asking about, it is far too complicated an answer for this actor to even begin. But basically, first there's the script. And then there're the writers to go to, as a sounding board. Then I have wonderful Mary Howell [the public interest lawyer who is the inspiration for the Toni Bernette character], whom I am not "playing," but who has lived a parallel life to Toni Bernette. I would not go to Mary to access how something should be played in the script. I'd go to Mary for larger strokes.
Then there's a costume department that always helps me find who the woman is by the kinds of clothing she wears and how she wears them. To Read More head to the Inside Treme blog
Courtney Cole from Mandeville, Louisiana
Mom and dad met while two-stepping in a dancehall, so maybe it was fate that led Mandeville gal Courtney Cole to Nashville, and thus to country music.
“They were very much into country music,” Cole said. “In my parents’ old albums, there is tons of country music that they love. I honestly didn’t like it. I thought it wasn’t a cool thing to do to like country music growing up, because my parents liked it.”
Rather, she preferred Celine,Whitney, Mariah.
“I’ve always said they taught me how to sing,” said Cole, age 24.
And they taught her well. Starting at 8 p.m. Friday (April 8), Cole will vie with nine other contestants to become “CMT’s Next Superstar.”
Back home, Cole has sung at Sugar Bowl-related events and at halftime of a “Monday Night Football” game at the Louisiana Superdome. Pre-Katrina, she sang Celtic Christmas music as part of a group at O’Flaherty’s in the French Quarter.
To read more of Courtney's story visit nola.com
Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves at a Hornets basketball game
Q: How have you enjoyed staying in New Orleans?
A: [When I got here], I’m pulling in from the airport, for the first time realizing how tiny the city is: everything’s ten minutes away. I’ve never been down here, staying in this neighborhood. It’s a great neighborhood. We’ve done more walking and eating and taking the kids out on a Saturday night. It’s been excellent here. New Orleans has always had a real good identity. But it’s been really relaxing and refreshing to be down here. Just on the street a minute ago, a girl came up and she was pulling her kid in a wagon. They went by, the lady said, “Hi!” and she tells her kid to say, “Hi.” And then she says, “Thanks for being here!” You know what I mean? Easy as that. It’s very, very hospitable and relaxing down here.
Q: And you work regularly with John Chaney, who’s based in Zachary, Louisiana, right?
A: We’ve been working together for sixteen years. I usually make a drive to his place to see him and his family at least once a year.
But this five weeks [shooting Killer Joe]…my whole family has enjoyed it. The zoo is badass. The Audubon Zoo is the best zoo I’ve ever been to. The most interactive. For one, the animals are happier than any other zoo I’ve ever been to. They’re spry. Two, they’ve designed it in a way where you’re walking a path with a little two-log fence there, and there’s the zebras or whatever and you’re like, “What’s keeping them in?” But they’ve built a little mound to keep them away from you and you don’t see it. It’s just cool. That’s a great zoo. Tomorrow, I’m going back. Insectarium’s cool, the Aquarium’s cool, but that zoo is really cool.
And then we’ve spent time on this street a lot. It’s been great walking it. We’ve been here a few times to Sake Café. You know what my favorite restaurant is that we’ve been frequenting? Coquette. I forget the kid’s name…maybe Matt? A young chef, a young blonde guy. He’s doing some good stuff in there, man. All local stuff, they change the menu daily. We’ve eaten there probably six times. We can bring the kids there. They’ve got a nice wine list.
Q: What else have you enjoyed about returning to Louisiana?
A: One, that Coquette’s really good. I’ve been to two Saints games, went to a Hornets game the other night. Again, everything’s ten minutes away. Met [Jeremy] Shockey the other day, he came around. It reminds me of Austin a lot. Austin’s really got an identity and this area right here reminds me of South Austin a lot. “Hey, it’s eight o’clock on a Friday night. Kids, you wanna come? Oh, gelato! Oh, there’s some music. Oh, let’s get something to eat.” You know? It’s all a walk away. We’ve been out of the house walking more here than we’ve done at home in Malibu in a long time and we’ve really enjoyed it. And again, the people…like that lady who walked past me and said thanks for being here. Someone might say, “Hey, can I get a picture with you?” Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, I’m sitting here talking with a friend at the moment. [But the answer is always,] “Cool, thanks man, good to see you.” Do you know how relaxing that is for a person in my position? No ulterior motives. It’s always been hospitable down here, partially because it has such an identity. It’s different than say, Los Angeles, where no one’s from there, so its identities are sort of shotgun spread. And it’s an industry town, so everyone is not here to eat, they are here to see who’s coming to eat. Not most people are living the story, they are there to see the story. Here you get real characters, people that are going somewhere. In New York City, people are going somewhere. They are going someplace to do what they want to do. It’s relaxing that way and it’s cool.
Here’s a great little story. My lady, Camila, was going down to get Christmas cards at this little card shop down towards Whole Foods. She’s a designer. She starts working with the lady on ‘em, figuring it all out, happened to know the girl, they were having a Christmas party, my lady and her mother make purses. She asks if she can piggyback on the party [and the answer is] “Yes!” She’s sold thirteen purses! It’s just that communal sort of thing.
We’ve had some great walks with the kids at night. We’ve had some great nights at Commander’s Palace, where they know we’re right up the street and they say, “Come by any time, we’ll give you whatever, even if it’s just dessert.” We’d go on by and drink wine, look around and, “Hey, there go the kids across the dining room!”
When I was here for Failure to Launch down here, I was on my own. When I work it’s usually work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep. And I didn’t go out that much. But now, in this area with the family, it’s been great.
Q: I know you’re a football fan. A buddy of mine is like, “When you talk to Matthew, you gotta bust him on how LSU’s in a better bowl.”
A: Well, hell yeah they are, [Texas] didn’t even make a bowl! Number one, tell your buddy, remind your buddywhat state most of your players are from! My state! You guys love Houston and Beaumont. Well, not most of them but a lot of them! Although, Louisiana per capita has more players than any other state in the NFL. Not the most, but per capita. LSU. I went to a game last year. I went into the locker room before the game with Les Miles and those players. They tried to get me to wear that LSU shirt and I had on a Texas shirt. I said, “No, guys. I walk out this door and I’m getting my picture taken, and I’ll never hear the end of it if I’m caught in an LSU shirt.” I said, “At least I’m not wearing your opponent’s jersey.”
Q: So you wouldn’t do it, huh?
A: No, no, no. I’ve got my team. I like LSU, though. I like y’all against Texas A&M! You guys have had a very interesting year. First you want to fire Les and now he’s up for coach of the year. But y’all always do that. Y’all always do that, man!
He’s done some questionable actions in a couple of games, but everything came out on the winning side. If you get the “W” then you’ve got a job, and he’s been there and SEC’s the toughest conference: I agree with that. I like LSU. I always root for LSU. But y’all are seldom playing Texas so it’s easy for me to root for y’all. I’m always rootin’ for y’all. LSU’s easy to root for though, too. It’s always fun to watch. And the Saints are lookin’ good again, man. You’re offense looks real good right now.
Let’s talk about this, right here! The Superdome. How fun is it when all of the sudden [BRRRM, BRRRM, BRRRM, BRRRM] C’mon, Saints fans get crunk! [BRRRM, BRRRM, BRRRM, BRRRM] WHOOO! I mean everybody in that place! I’m mean…
Q: [Laughing] Is that your first time experiencing a game in the Dome?
A: It’s been awhile. I’ve been to the Dome before, but this new…I’m talkin’ about everybody, if they’re holding a plate of food or a cocktail drink, I mean they ‘bout practically drop it and get, I’m talkin’ four-legged dancin’! Ooooh man! Even the players on the kickoff team!
Q: It has become like an anthem!
A: It is your anthem! I mean you’re always going to have, “Who Dat? Who Dat? Who Dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints?!” But that song, I’m talking about hits a full nerve and that whole place…I was at the Seahawks game and I was at the Rams game. At the Seahawks game y’all were a little more pumped, the crowd and everything. But aww, man that hit a nerve! It’s a hoot watching it. A hoot! I took my son the other day. And he liked the game but what he really liked was when that came on, watchin’ everybody.
Q: That’s good stuff. You’re going to have to try really hard to come down here every few years.
A: I would love to come work down here [again]. The easiest way to get down here for me is jobs and what y’all are doing makes it easier to do jobs down here and look, what can I do, man? I go back [to L.A.] and just speak highly of it. Talk about crews, talk about locations, talk about ease of work. When it comes down to dollars is where they make the decision, but if it’s not substantial dollars, people in my position can go, “Oh, you’re thinking about New Orleans or this other place? Hey, this is where you want to go.”
Q: It’s great to hear support like that coming from someone like you.
A: We shot New Orleans for Dallas in Killer Joe. Easy. I’m from Texas so I’d love to shoot in our home state, but we don’t have the tax breaks right now. But I have quite enjoyed it here, man. It’s a great place to be. It’s very easy for me to get creatively in mind and turned on and remain there the entire time. Part of it is, when I was off work, it’s a very creative place to walk around, engage people. You’re just meetin’ characters everywhere. You are meeting people who are who they are, not trying to be something different. That’s the real strength to it, a place with identity. That’s also, as an artist, to engage in that, it’s not exhausting. There’s color and smells and tastes that everywhere you’re going, “Ah, look, originality.” So, you don’t feel that you hop out of work and you jump into the mendacity. So, it’s good.
Q: I’m sure it’s a good feeling when you end a hard week of work and you know you have a good living environment to relax.
A: I’ve gotten out more here with my family than I have with my last ten films put together, easy.
To read more of the interview, visit Scene Magazine online