New Orleans series ‘True Detective’ debuting on HBO

TV Notes: New Orleans series ‘True Detective’ debuting on HBO

With HBO’s “Treme,” set in and filmed in New Orleans, having ended its four-season run Dec. 29, the network will debut another New Orleans series, “True Detective,” at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The police drama’s eight-episode first season, also shot in and around New Orleans, stars Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan and Michael Potts. Potts portrayed feared assassin Brother Mouzone in HBO’s “The Wire” (2002-2008), but is on the right side of the law in “True Detective.”

“Detective Sgt. Maynard Gilbough is a veteran detective, at least 15 years as a detective, a state investigator, he’s divorced with one child, and he’s known as a pretty inscrutable detective,” Potts said Thursday from New York. “Very, very smart or cerebral, as they would describe him, and very, very diffcult to read. He knows how to break down suspects, he’s incredibly patient, he knows what questions to ask, what sort of physical clues to look for from a person. Very heady, very smart, very probing.”

The detective is called in on a re-opened 1995 murder case initially thought solved by the original detectives, Martin Hart and Rust Cohle (Harrelson and McConaughey).

“Around 2002, another crime very similar, that same sort of MO as the one we thought was solved, they started recurring,” Potts explained. “The same types (of killings) in the same areas. The similarities were too much of a coincidence to ignore.”

Potts was in New Orleans off and on from March through June, and calls his experience fanastic.

“I had a great time. As I tell people when they ask now, I say, ‘Everything you heard, it’s absolutely true. They weren’t lying. The food is really that good, the French Quarter, all of that, absolutely true.’” Potts said he was there for some mild spring weather days, and some of June’s hot, humid ones, but that most of his scenes were shot inside.

“We had two exterior shoots. Most of ours were interiors in the interrregation room, one in a cemetery in the lower Ninth in the evening,” he said. “They had had some snake wranglers, I think, on set to make sure it was clear, because I know on one shoot that Matthew and Woody were on, they were in the swamp and had to have an alligator removed.

“And then we did have a final shoot when we wrapped our work which was in the swamp, but it was mostly just bugs. I think they had pretty much cleared out the area.”

“It was Nick’s (the writer’s) idea to have a new location, a new case, and a new cast every season.”

Back in New York, Potts returned to Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon,” a project he’s been involved with for five years. He plays Mafala Hatimbi in the Tony-winning musical.

“It’s a great show and it’s an amazing cast,” Potts said of the “Mormon” show. “Such a smart, funny and sweet show, and controversial.”

Viewers can also look for Potts in an upcoming episode of the New York-shot CBS police drama “Blue Bloods.”

Meanwhile, Tim Hanks, who oversees security at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center, plays two roles in “True Detective.”

Hanks worked behind the scenes as a technical advisor to the series’ producers and also picked up a speaking part in the sixth episode.

Another ULL connection in the series is that Harrelson’s character is a former USL baseball player, so some USL items show up on screen. Harrelson wears a USL graduation ring and Monaghan, who plays his wife, occasionally wears a vintage USL baseball jersey.

Hanks worked as a Louisiana State Police trooper in Acadiana for 20 years, including 14 years as a detective.

“I was able to help the producers nail down the details,” he says in a news release.

LPB screening ‘Sherlock’

Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s British Dramedy Society will host a free screening of the first episode of Season 3 of “Masterpiece: Sherlock” at 2 p.m. Sunday at LPB’s studios, 7733 Perkins Road.

“Sherlock” stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. In addition to the screening, there will be refreshments and door prizes.

To RSVP, email Brits@lpb.org, or call (225) 767-4276.

Nussbaum leaves WBRZ

Meteorologist Dave Nussbaum has left WBRZ, Channel 2 to join WWL-TV in New Orleans.

Nussbaum’s last day on the air in Baton Rouge was Friday. Starting next week, he’ll be the weather anchor on WWL’s noon and 5 p.m. newscasts.

Nussbaum worked at WBRZ for 10 years.

“I will continue to post weather updates for South Louisiana on my Facebook Pages, Twitter Page and my weather blog too,” Nussbaum said in a Facebook post Thursday. “You can also watch my weather updates on WWL’s website, too.”

The ULL Office of Communications and Marketing contributed to this column. Television stations with news about programming, on-air reporters or personalities should email jbergeron@theadvocate.com.