Brandy On New Orleans

Brandy Pigeon

Dear Hollywood, Why is it so hard for you to get it right?

By Brandy Pigeon

When I first heard about the new series "K-Ville" being filmed in New Orleans, I thought it was a great concept. Sure there are tons of cop dramas on TV all ready; but this one offered a little something different. There was a unique situation facing the police officers of New Orleans, that no previous department had ever faced. I thought it would be interesting to see a show based on the actual problems these particular officers were facing.  However, I'm always skeptical of anything filmed in New Orleans because inevitably, they get it all wrong. For some reason, Hollywood people always portray New Orleanians as being Cajuns, so I was afraid "K-Ville" would fall into the same trap. Fortunately, they realized that very few people who live in the city limits of New Orleans actually speak with Cajun accents... unfortunately, they employed many other stereotypes that prove their research into the city was minimal, at best.

"K-Ville" began with a flashback to the day the levees broke. I was willing to overlook the prisoners drowning in their cells, which didn't happen, for the sake of the plot. But less than 5 minutes into the show, Marlin Boulet (don't get me started on the names),  our hero cop who stayed throughout the storm and the days that followed (and coincidentally is preparing a homemade fried shrimp po-boy for himself), asks a would-be tree thief if he's going to the "Gumbo Party" on Saturday. As I sit on my sofa, I get the beginning pangs of headache... Here we go again. I've lived in New Orleans my entire life - I've never hosted, been invited to, attended, or even heard of a "Gumbo Party". Another minute passes, and a Boulet's neighbor, Kasha Fontaine (add that to the name-o-meter) drives up in her new car, that she proudly proclaims she paid for with 2 FEMA checks. Ugh. My headache worsens. 

After meeting a 9th Ward drug dealing, girlfriend beating, shrimper, then witnessing some police brutality, seeing our "hero" Boulet drinking on the job more than once, and how could anyone forget that drive-by shooting in front of Jackson Square, I was desperately in need of some Advil. Of course, the rich, racist, white casino owner's daughter was responsible for the crimes committed in the episode, and her name - drumroll please - was Christine duBois. 

I'll sum up the premiere in a nutshell for you - Flawed Black Cop gets paired up with rookie Flawed White Cop, they catch Rich White People trying to prevent Poor Black People from returning home, and then eat Gumbo to make it all better. Throw in a chandelier lit hospital, a casino, Voo-Doo Realtors, and a plantation and you've got "K-Ville-Episode1". If that wasn't enough, the trailer for next week's episode includes that wacky Boulet, drowning his oatmeal in hot sauce. Yee-Haw!!!

I did find one aspect of "K-Ville" to be particularly exciting. I was thrilled to William Mapother and Sam Anderson in the premier. It was like a mini "LOST" reunion. Seeing Ethan and Bernard together and off of the island wearing normal clothes and being clean and neat was great. I am obsessed with "LOST" and the only thing holding me over until the new season begins is football; which is sort of painful right now, because as you all know, I'm a Saints fan and that 0-2 start is very troublesome. But alas, I digress. Back to the point, shall we?

I would like to offer some free advice to the Hollywood elitists in charge of K-Ville, and the Hollywood elitists who will film something in New Orleans in the future:

1. If you're going to insist on using accents think Southern not Cajun. When I go out of town, most people think I'm from California, they usually think my husband is from Brooklyn; that's a "yat" thing that many people down here share. My point is, there aren't very many actual Cajuns in New Orleans... just so you know.

2. If you're going to involve Hurricane Katrina in your work, don't use CNN and Oprah as your research references... They didn't get it right, either. Contrary to popular belief, the 9th Ward was not the only area affected by Katrina. Also, "poor" neighborhoods were not the only parts of town inundated with water. Old Metairie, Lakeview, and Uptown, are all middle class, mostly white neighborhoods, and they were also devastated by the flood waters. The people from these suburbs were also displaced, and they too, are struggling to rebuild and return home. Katrina wasn't a racist... just so you know.

3. We don't put Tabasco on breakfast cereal, we aren't all a bunch of raving alcoholics, we don't eat gumbo three times a day, being wealthy doesn't mean you're a Klansmen or a rapper, we don't listen to zydeco music exclusively, and voo-doo and witchcraft are not the most popular religious practices in the city... just so you know.

Hopefully, these insider tips help out the next time someone in Tinseltown decides they'd like to make New Orleans the backdrop for their script. Learn from the mistakes so many have made before. There are reasons movies like "The Big Easy" and television shows like "Frank's Place" flop. Correct the mistakes that plague so many of these projects and you could end up with a bona fide hit on your hands. New Orleans offers great tax credits to those who choose to film in this city, and the charm of this "Hollywood South" should grace the big and small screen alike. If it's done right there's no reason shooting here in New Orleans shouldn't be as profitable and successful as shooting in New York... just leave the ridiculous stereotypes back in California.

Brandy welcomes feedback at Include permission to post in your letter, if you are willing.