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Treme and Frank’s Place

April 2, 2010

From the first words of Kevin Allman’s review of Treme, a connection is made between the HBO series and the show Frank’s Place, another show set in New Orleans that wrapped long ago.

One of David Mills’ last posts on Undercover Black Man is even more direct:

We’re in the midst of filming the second episode of “Treme” written by me. I titled it “Smoke My Peace Pipe.” (The old heads know why.)

Coolest part about being on set for this one? Chatting with Tim Reid, whom we cast in a guest role as a tribute to “Frank’s Place,” a great show about New Orleans.

Mills goes on to inform us all about Reid’s further connections with one of the greats of American comedy, Richard Pryor.  Check it here.

What-all happened with Frank’s Place, and why isn’t it available on DVD for us all to see?  The place to go to find out more about that is still The Gambit, notably the November 2008 article entitled “Tim’s Place”, also by Kevin Allman, who really gets around.  An excerpt:

In 1987, CBS debuted a situation comedy about a Creole restaurant, set in the Tremé, that remains one of the best portraits of New Orleans ever captured on film. Despite critical acclaim and a slew of trophies, including three Emmys and an NAACP Image Award, it was canceled after 22 episodes.

Then it vanished.

The show was called Frank’s Place, and it hasn’t been rebroadcast in the two decades since, nor has it ever been made available commercially. In a time when nearly all old TV shows are reissued on DVD, it’s never been released in a box set. Several years ago, the master tapes were discovered in a Hollywood trash bin, discarded by the network that owned them, headed for the dump.

The man who produced and starred in the show drove over to pick them up.

That man was actor Tim Reid, who had created the show with friend Hugh Wilson, and the ignominy of finding his masterwork in a Dumpster was, to Reid, the final metaphor for the way the network had treated Frank’s Place.

The rest is here.

  1. April 2, 2010 1:43 pm

    Frank’s Place ran for a short while (maybe just one loop) on BET, then was taken off the air permanently due to licensing issues with all of the great New Orleans music that was used on the show. There are reports that CBS is looking at recording from the original with new music.

    For those who saw Frank’s Place, it was the single major media project that really got the people of this city dead-to-rights. Treme we all hope will rise to that standard, and those who have seen the previews suggest it will, but Tim Reid deserves first credit for making a show everyone in New Orleans could love and be proud of.

  2. April 2, 2010 1:51 pm

    Sorry about the HTML train wreck in that comment. Maitri, can you turn on whatever is required to make comments editable? Or does only belong to the person who created the original post. (This is my first shared WordPress post).

    Trying again: The Licensing Issues

  3. doctorj2u permalink
    April 2, 2010 9:50 pm

    I loved “Frank’s Place” when it originally ran on CBS. I think there is a place in every New Orleanian’s heart that wants America to love the culture of the city as much as we do. In the anger following Katrina, I lost that connection. As Ashley Morris would say, FU! (Well, Ashley would actually say the words, but as a southern lady of a certain age, I find it hard to write. Ashley would surely laugh.) Maybe “Treme” will get that feeling back for me. New Orleans is such a special place. It deserves all the love it (she) can get.

  4. April 3, 2010 9:09 pm

    Yeah Doc J.
    I remember thinking of Frank’s Place every time I ate at Buster Holme’s, which was often way back when.

    I have decided to call the death of David Mills: Karmaphor.
    It just doesn’t get any deeper, and the more I read about him the more astounding the loss David Simon must be feeling, as well as everyone else close to him. But those two met in college. Damn.
    I say Karmaphor because I consider New Orleans a city of Living Metaphor, not something you just read about or watch on screen.
    David Mills leaves a wake from Coast to Coast.

  5. April 3, 2010 9:37 pm

    Free WordPress blogs don’t come with the ability to make comments editable by commenters that are not the post author. What I did do was turn on “WordPress should correct invalidly nested XHTML automatically.” Hope that works in the future. Also, the post author moderates comments as diligently as humanly possible, so someone will get around to a “train wreck” sooner or later. 🙂

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