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During the 1987-1988 television season, Tim Reid and Hugh Wilson brought CBS viewers as close to New Orleans as any television series had ever done with Frank’s Place. In the first episode, Frank Parrish, a reluctant restaurateur, plans to sell Chez Louisiane, the family restaurant he inherited. But soon he finds himself elbow deep in food, family debt and eccentric characters.
The show won wide spread praise for its combination of comedy, drama, and light-hearted plots peppered with discussions of weighty issues. “I wanted to provide America with a glimpse of the black American culture that so rarely is seen on TV,” Reid said.
Despite critical acclaim, the show was off the air after only one season. The show’s 22 episodes are not available for home viewing.
“I have been in discussion with Viacom about the right to distribute. However, the main issue is music clearance. The cost to use the existing music is expensive,” Reid said. “I am now exploring the possibility of using some of the least expensive and creating new music with the same New Orleans flavor. We’ll see.”
Through special arrangements with the show's creators, HBO's Treme will present two episodes of this New Orleans classic, along with a panel discussion with Reid, Wilson, and Treme writer Lolis Eric Elie, moderated by Gambit Weekly editor Kevin Allman. Treme star Wendell Pierce will act as master of ceremonies.
The evening will begin with a live musical performance by NOCCA Jazz students during a cocktail reception, featuring signature New Orleans dishes as seen on the menu of Chez Louisiane. The food will be prepared by the staff at Liberty’s Kitchen, the South Broad Street program that provides 16-to-20-year-olds with life and work skills through an intensive, 14-week culinary training program.
“Having been associated with “Frank’s Place” is one of the most important and fulfilling segments of my career,” Reid said. “I remember meeting the late [CBS chairman] William Paley, who was a fan of the show, and saying to him, ‘thanks for creating a medium which allowed me the opportunity to reveal a slice of my culture.’
“He smiled and replied, ‘No, thank you.’ I will never forget that moment,” Reid said.
Proceeds from the evening will benefit the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
When & Where
The NOCCA Institute
Founded in 1973, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts is Louisiana’s arts conservatory for high school students. NOCCA offers intensive instruction in Classical Music, Creative Writing, Culinary Arts, Dance, Drama, Jazz, Media Arts, Musical Theatre, Theatre Design, Vocal Music, Visual Arts, and academics. Students come from across Louisiana, attending via full-day, afternoon, and after-school sessions. Admission to NOCCA is by audition, and there is no tuition.
The NOCCA Institute is NOCCA’s nonprofit partner, providing supplemental funding for NOCCA and advocacy for its world-class program. Some of the Institute’s more notable endeavors include: a comprehensive Financial Aid Program that funds students’ supplies and fees associated with important summer training programs across the country; an Artists-in-Residence Program that brings more than 100 professional visiting artists into NOCCA’s classrooms each year; the capital campaign for NOCCA’s current home and expansion projects along the Press Street corridor, including Press Street Station, 5 Press Gallery, and Press Street Gardens; and concert, gallery, and literary events for the community. The Institute also oversees rentals of the NOCCA campus, making it available to arts organizations, individuals, corporations, and other groups.
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