Follow The Money: New Orleans drama 'Treme' returns on HBO tonight


Season three of Treme, David Simon's music filled drama, starts up on HBO on Sunday night. It's two years after Hurricane Katrina and opportunities abound to cash in on the money coming back to New Orleans.

Carpetbagging developer Nelson Hidalgo is looking for ways to get paid off the city's musical culture, as is deejay Davis McAlary, who's leading cockeyed music tours and writing a post-Katrina opera "that will make Puccini my bitch." Chef Janette DeSautel, in the season opening episode co-written by creator David Simon and TV cook Anthony Bourdain, is still in New York but about to me tempted by an off to open her own place in the City That Care Forgot.

Story oozes on Treme, and events take their time in unfolding, from LaDonna Batiste-Williams irritation with  the uppity in-laws she's living with, to Dutch keyboard player Sonny's efforts to romance his Vietnamese girlfirend Linh, always under the watchful eye of her fisherman father. Meantime, trombinist Antoine Batiste (the lovable and laudable Wendell Pierce, pictured) is at least half earning a living with an actual job - teaching marching band class at a local school.

There are signs in the first couple of episodes that the action is about to heat up, however. An arson-fired murder mystery is likely to pull David Morse's honest cop and Melissa Leo's crusading lawyer, and an out of town journalist without a paying gig (played by True Blood's Chris Coy) is doing some digging into the city government malfeasance, working towards unearthing a bombshell of a story. 

Another reason to expect things to start to speed up: On Saturday, Simon announced that the low-rated series has been renewed by HBO for a fourth season that will be shorter, and the series' last. At a screening at New Orleans Joy Theater, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Simon said he expects to do four to six hours of the show next year, and told the crowd: “HBO, upon viewing the 10 [season-three episodes] that we gave them and what we’ve done, they want to see the end of the story. They fought very hard to give us half a loaf. We’re going to take it and run.”

Judging from the first couple of episodes of this season, Treme will be as packed with great music as ever. Look for a cameo by Clarence "Frogman" Henry in tonight's 'Knock With Me - Rock With Me' premier. Check out the trailer below, and watch this space for music updates from Treme throughout the season.

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