Treme is an American television drama series created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer. The series takes its name from the Tremé neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. The series begins three months after Hurricane Katrina. It follows residents of New Orleans, including musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and ordinary New Orleanians try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.
The series premiered on HBO on April 11, 2010, with an 80-minute pilot episode, the first of a 10 episode first season. On April 13, 2010, it was announced that HBO had renewed the show for a second season. The 11 episode second season premiered on April 24, 2011.
Simon and Overmyer first worked together as writers on the television series Homicide: Life on the Street and became friends. They collaborated again on Simon's series The Wire when Overmyer joined the crew as a consulting producer and writer in 2006. Treme was put into development by HBO in 2008 shortly after the conclusion of The Wire. The show was envisioned to focus on the working class Tremé neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and will be smaller in scope than The Wire, which examined an entire city.
Overmyer lived part-time in New Orleans and Simon believed his experience would be valuable in navigating the "ornate oral tradition" of the city's stories. Simon initially stated that the series would explore New Orleans culture including and beyond the music scene to encompass political corruption, the public housing controversy, the criminal-justice system, clashes between police and Mardi Gras Indians, and the struggle to regain the tourism industry after the storm.
In 2008 HBO commissioned a pilot episode for the series but did not "green-light" a complete series at that time. The pilot was announced at the 2008 Television Critics Association summer press tour. Simon initially hoped to film the pilot episode of the series in 2008 and to continue filming in 2009 if the series was commissioned. The series was planned to film on location and was predicted to be a boost to the New Orleans economy. Simon also consulted with New Orleans musicians Donald Harrison Jr., Kermit Ruffins, and Davis Rogan, and local chef Susan Spicer while developing the series.
The pilot did not actually begin filming in New Orleans until March 9, 2009. Award-winning Polish director Agnieszka Holland was hired to direct the pilot. Holland had worked with the creators previously on The Wire, directing three episodes of that series. After the pilot was written HBO commissioned another ten scripts.
- Main article: Crew
- Main article: Cast
Treme features a diverse ensemble cast including 11 starring cast members.
The Wire star Wendell Pierce was the first to be attached to star in the series. His involvement was announced shortly after the pilot in July 2008. Pierce is a New Orleans native and plays Antoine Batiste, an accomplished trombonist. Fellow The Wire alumnus Clarke Peters was also attached to star in the project early in its development. Peters plays the leader of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe who is trying to bring his scattered people home and revitalize the neighborhood. Khandi Alexander, who previously worked with Simon on The Corner, joined the project in August 2008 and was cast as Ladonna Batiste, the (separated) wife of Pierce's character and a bar owner.
Film actor Steve Zahn joined the project in February 2009. Treme is his first series commitment in television. Zahn plays Davis McAlary dancer, DJ, and band member/leader with anger management issues in a role that showcases his singing and guitar playing talents. Zahn's character is based on series consultant Davis Rogan. Kim Dickens, previously of Deadwood and Friday Night Lights, was also cast in February 2009 as a chef with a tumultuous relationship with Zahn's character. Also in February 2009 Rob Brown was cast as Delmond Lambreaux, a New York jazz musician and son of Peters' character who reluctantly returns home. Academy Award nominee and Homicide star Melissa Leo was cast as a civil rights lawyer just before the pilot began filming in March 2009. John Goodman was cast as her character's college professor husband when the show started filming its season order, and scenes featuring him were added to the pilot.
The series casting mirrors that of The Wire in using local actors wherever possible. Local casting took place in January and February 2009 via RPM casting. New Orleans native Phyllis Montana LeBlanc was cast as the girlfriend of Pierce's character. LeBlanc was recommended for the project by director Spike Lee who had worked with her on the HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary When the Levees Broke. Additionally, well-known New Orleans musician Kermit Ruffins appears as himself in the pilot and guests throughout the first season. Other musical guests include Allen Toussaint, Dr John, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Sammie Williams, Donald Harrison Jr., Galactic, Trombone Shorty Andrews, Deacon John, The Pine Leaf Boys, and the Rebirth and Tremé Brass Bands.
- Main article: Episodes
There are 21 episodes to date spread across two seasons.