Home URBAN DEPRESSION ALERT: TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS on PBS Examines Recovery, Impact of Spill...

DEPRESSION ALERT: TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS on PBS Examines Recovery, Impact of Spill and Ongoing Efforts to Revitalize New Orleans

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With the catastrophic oil spill further threatening livelihoods along the Gulf Coast this summer, Tavis Smiley travels to to capture the mood and spirit of the city’s courageous residents as they rebuild schools, churches and homes five years after the levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The third Tavis Smiley primetime special, “New Orleans: Been in the Storm Too Long,” is produced in collaboration with Academy-Award-winning director Jonathan Demme. It premieres, July 21, 2010 at 8pm/7pm Central on .

As the BP oil spill continues to spread through the Gulf of Mexico, Tavis captures the unique resilience of city leaders, including Mayor Mitch Land rieu.

“You know we are veterans of pain here in New Orleans ,” says Land rieu. “And we know that it’s always going to be hard and it’s just another burden on our back, but we’re gonna carry it. I was just saying earlier that this oil spill, just like Katrina, everybody wants to make it about us, but it’s not about us. This is about America .”

In the special, Tavis connects with a number of New Orleans ‘ iconic community figures including actor Wendell Pierce, currently starring in the New Orleans-focused HBO drama, “Treme.” Pierce is spearheading an effort to rebuild affordable homes for families, particularly for older people who lost everything in the flooding, in Pontchartrain Park, a historically African-American neighborhood in New Orleans.

“We took something ugly and made it beautiful,” Pierce tells Tavis. “One of our oldest stockholders said that we turned this into a Black Mayberry and became a community that is strong.   So now, in their twilight years, if we didn’t do it [rebuild], that would be such a disservice to them.   And this was something that I said to everyone involved, exercise our right to self-determination. You couldn’t get more American than that.”

Also joining Smiley in this hour-long special are:

  • Actor, musician and New Orleans resident, Lenny Kravitz
  • Jazz musicians Ellis and Branford Marsalis
  • Actor John Goodman, long-time resident now starring in the acclaimed series “Treme”
  • Heroic residents including musicians, educators, environmentalists, activists, and religious leader

In discussing his experience meeting with the many brave people of New Orleans , Smiley says, “This city is fertile with hope, but even hope needs help.”

Smiley continues, ” New Orleans needs politicians they can trust, promises that are kept, a strong educational system to bring back families and of course jobs. I make no apologies for my abiding love of this city and its remarkable people. I find inspiration in the way they’re living against all odds. In unique and profound ways they squeeze every good thing out of life they can. They did this before Katrina, they’re continuing to do this today and I suspect they’ll be doing this tomorrow.”

Visit www.pbs.org/tavis/reports for more information.

TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS is produced for PBS by The Smiley Group, Inc. /TS Media, Inc. and KCET Los Angeles. Executive producer is Jacoba Atlas. Funding provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and Public Television Viewers.

CEO of RF Focus, Radio and Music Industry Veteran. Radio DJ, Programmer, Musician and Voice Talent. Graduated from Performing Arts in Buffalo, N.Y. and worked at the legendary KKBT (92.3 The Beat) during its nationwide heyday in the early 90s. Also worked for Stevie Wonder at KJLH.