HBO’s Treme Finishes Shooting Final Season

It was a raw and misty late afternoon in February during Mardi Gras. Spotlights illuminated the gloaming Marigny shadows with a surreal, almost funereal light. David Simon and Eric Overmyer huddled inside a doorway across the street from the Spotted Cat, watching Davis Rogan do a run-through of “Godzilla vs. M.L.K.” before Steve Zahn as Davis McAlary would sing it for the shoot. The music rattled across Frenchmen Street as crew members directed extras and music director Blake Leyh checked levels on headphones at the production station in the alley next door to the club. It was to be the last club music shoot in the HBO series Treme’s extraordinary three years documenting the music and culture of New Orleans.

Bittersweet?

“That’s the word,” said Overmyer. “Every day as we approach the end of shooting we say goodbye to other members of the cast and crew who’ve completed their assignments.”

Rogan took a break and joined Leyh and me in the side doorway of d.b.a. at the circular Red Bull table where I was watching the proceedings. We joked about Davis getting married next month and ruminated on which local musician received the biggest boost from Treme’s run. John Boutte was the consensus pick but it was a difficult choice because so many local musicians were cast into new relief by the international exposure the series has given them. They left and I said to a woman who’d joined us, “I think Davis has gotten the biggest boost. He was able to quit his teaching job and now works full-time as a musician.”

She responded, as so many locals who’ve followed Treme as if it was a story told by relatives about their daily lives have, with a plot suggestion.

“They should do a story about these guys coming into town and making a TV show about all of us,” she said.

She walked off and everyone took their places. I was waiting for the call “action” when I saw OffBeat art director Elsa Hahne walk by and chased after her. A stern assistant told us to keep walking as we passed by Simon and Overmyer, who called out to me. I returned a few minutes later and apologized for not stopping to talk.

“Oh, it was just that the camera was panning on these two guys conspiring across the street and you walked by,” said Overmyer.

Just like that, the shot was over and another of Treme’s final moments was complete. The show’s dexterity in weaving stories of real New Orleans musicians into the storyline alongside actors playing New Orleans musicians is so intricate that I couldn’t even tell you who the players in the band were without spoiling a near-Shakesperian plot point.

There was much laughing and handshaking going on inside the Spotted Cat as the crew broke down the set and Simon and Rogan enjoyed a final Treme moment together.

“It was a great coincidence, you walking by then,” said Simon. “Your review of The Once and Future DJ in OffBeat introduced me to Davis. I read it and said, ‘Who is this guy?’ So I get the album and the first song I hear on it is ‘Godzilla vs. M.L.K.’ That’s how it started and now we’re here at the end listening to ‘Godzilla vs. M.L.K.’again.”

  • NIorNOLA

    Absolutely gutted that HBO is pulling the plug. It frustrates me to my very core that such a well written and well executed show with so much based on reality and with real people can be ignored by so many folk around the world. All the while they appear transfixed by sub-24 rubbish like Homeland, just to watch a thin storyline dragged out and watch Claire Daines blub again and again. And then they take all the plaudits with Clarke Peters and especially Khandi Alexander being ignored by the major awards. It’s utterly ridiculous.

    Anyway, having been into the Hot 8, Rebirth and Dirty Dozen beforehand, Treme has provided my wife and I with a powder keg explosion of amazing artists who deserve all the attention they get from the show and so much more! In fact the pilgrimage from Northern Ireland to our favourite city in the world is finally happening in April after many years of talking about it, and that’s thanks in part to David Simon, Eric Overmeyer, Blake Leyh and all the rest of the cast and crew. They’ve stoked the fire big time, and we cannot wait.

    • Kat Herder

      Oh wait, you forgot that award winner “The Kardashians” in whatever whatever setting. I just don’t get it. Who picks this crap?

    • Just Incase

      Homeland is a Showtime show not HBO.

  • http://www.kenshane.com kshane

    I have mixed feelings about this. Don’t get me wrong, Treme is a great show, but I’m always complaining about shows that go on too long and “jump the shark.” The English seem to have it right with series like Life On Mars that do two seasons and stop. Treme is great, and I’m sure it could continue to be great for many more seasons, but if it has to go out, I’m glad it’s going out on the top of its form.

  • teachergirl23

    NIorNOLA-I couldn’t agree with you more! Watching the show has fostered my love for the city even more. So much so that I’ve become a bit obsessed. I will miss this show dearly. I wish another network would pick it up and continue the show.

    • Alx

      ”I wish another network would pick it up and continue the show.” Yeah right. Like what network? NBC, FOX? Get real. A show like Treme, just like The Wire, is unusual in the current TV landscape filled by safe kiddy crap and reality shows on regular network and it could’ve survived only on HBO. Be glad we enjoyed it for four awesome years and look forward for Simon’s next project.

  • Toronto Treme Fan

    This is hands down one of the best shows on TV today. Knew absolutely nothing about it going in – watched pilot cause John Goodman was in it. So great!!! Introduced a world of exceptional music and culture that I had no idea about before watching. To say nothing of the insight the show has into politics and power structures. This show should have been up for multiple Emmys every year – if quality alone was the core determining factor at play…Will be rewatching for years to come…beautiful.

    • Michel Rios

      just wanted to say I feel the same…as if I had written this myself. I’d like to add how ridiculous shows about dumbasses hanging out at the shore, rich whiney wives acting like idiots and women acting like desperate ding bats for roses have taken over t.v…thank you Treme, Breaking Bad, The walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Touch, Shameless and The Following. Really hope it gets picked up by another network.

  • Kat Herder

    Final season??? WHAT? Please no! Why do the best series always end too soon? I am heartbroken. :-(

  • marc stakenburg

    Really loved the show, thanks for so much great music and info on new Orleans and it’s cullture. Happy I can visit Nola twice a year, grt Marc from Amsterdam

  • Disappointed Fan

    My Husband and I love the series and had know idea it was being pulled. “Treme” had substance and the music was incredible. The last episode isn’t even available on HBO on demand. We just checked. How can I see it? So disappointed.

    • Jackie

      You can see it on HBO .com

  • Rainman

    We’re sad to see Treme end. We feel we’ve been enriched by it. We’ve loved many things about the show. E.g. The production quality, how it feels like a movie and not a TV production, the intricate interwoven story lines, the magnificent costumes, the wonderful robust characters who astonishingly are overlooked by the awards groups, a look inside the music industry, inside the restaurant business, a look at political maneuvering and pay offs.

    And of course, there’s the music. Without it, Treme would be a great drama. The music is so remarkably well woven into the story and the story is so well woven into the music, it transforms this production to great heights not oft seen outside a movie theatre.

    My wife and I journeyed to NOLA last fall for a long weekend. We went to inhale some of the flavor we gleaned from Treme and are the better for it. Thank you for your craft and your efforts.

  • snakyjake

    Well true to form HBO has decided that an excellent show should die before it’s time. Re: deadwood and Carnivale. i agree that U.S. shows tend to go on too long and that the BBC formula of 2-3 seasons is the best way to go but, their concept has a beginning middle and end at conception. U.S. shows sometimes start with a great idea and go on until the writers jump the shark. that being said the death of TREME is a bit premature. if the Wire was great for 5 years this show warrented the same length at least. what they should work on now is a movie or mini series showing our town today and how far the characters and especialy New Orleans has come since the storm. i guess all we can do is hope.

  • Heinrich

    A friend of mine and me, we came to visit N.O 14 months ago. On the plane from Stuttgart / Germany to Atlanta he asked me if I want to have a first flavour of N.O.? He had a little netbook with him and we watched half of the first season of Treme. It was a bit tough to understand the dialogue but I was taken by the first second of the show. I never expected to see such a brilliant series that is head and shoulders above the terrible serial junk we get to see in Germany – be it german or US stuff. The actors know their stuff too – Hollywood wtf? After watching the first and second season recently I wanted to order the next seasons to come. A pity it won´t go on.This serial can make you really feel sad because after watching a while it pulls you inside and you just want it to go on. Take that from a German ;-)) And thanks to HBO, Eric Simon and Eric Overmyer for that lovely piece of art. Would love to see some more.

  • Angie

    These people are real and I didn’t even know this culture existed before this show. This was a tour de force, a brilliant piece of story-telling, and just enough of a peek into the Katrinia disaster to give the rest of us what people underwent and continue to undertake. Congratualtions on a great show and shame on HBO for letting it go.

    • Ambooklover

      I so agree! Will miss this show so much. It felt like a visit to N.O. every week.

  • Jane

    Excellent, excellent show. Live all the way in West Africa but feel like I’ve been immersed right in NOLA every time I watch an episode. The music, food, lives of characters, it all draws you right in. I’m visiting NOLA for the 1st time ever because of this show and it feels familiar already without me having ever stepped foot there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eldon-Pittman/100000503887632 Eldon Pittman

    Keep your eye on Phyllis Montana-Leblanc……you WILL see more of her!

  • Fran White

    I feel so sad thinking that there will be no more Treme. It is one of the best shows on tv! Visiting New Orleans last year for the second time, I knew where to go to really feel NOLA. So sad…no more music…no more epic drama…no more learning from home about the culture of this wonderful city.

  • Phil M

    I’ve learned so much about the NOLA local scene through this show, as trite as that may sound. I’ve discovered new musicians and was inspired to travel there several times. One of my moments I will never forget was meeting Jon Cleary at dba and buying him a Guinness. Thank you Mr Simon, Mr Overmyer, the talented cast, and HBO! This show has been amazing.

  • Mandy Phillips Shelton

    I just watched the whole of season 2 Sunday and have been going around singing “Indian Red” and “Bueno Sera” all day today. I HATE, HATE, HATE that this is the last season. I am so in love with these characters and this city. I only wish I had been born a little further south…

  • Java

    Reading this article was a complete waste of my time. Horrible writing

    • BrainsnBeauty

      @ Java, reading YOUR post was a horrible waste of my beauty, Java

  • BrainsnBeauty

    @ Java, reading YOUR post was a horrible waste of my beauty, Java

  • SouthPoke

    I’m ’bout to cry.

  • SouthPoke

    I’m ’bout to cry.