Editor’s Note: In honor and memory of Sharon Litwin, The Queen here at NolaVie, we will be publishing a piece from her every day for the next month. Sharon was an advocate and spokeswoman for arts, culture, people, and policies here in New Orleans. Her voice and sharp wit will be greatly missed.
It’s probably fair to say, with a few exceptions, that most New Orleans kids don’t really know what they want to be when they grow up; not unlike most of America’s kids who move through youthful fantasies ranging anywhere from gold-medal Olympic fame to being President of the United States to singing like Beyonce.
Except here one could include the possible addition of being Emeril Lagasse, Peyton Manning or Irma Thomas. But that’s yesterday’s world view. Today, there’s another, thanks to the recent invasion of:
Albert Quaid is a through-and-through New Orleanian. He is years past his childhood fantasies, growing into a successful career as proprietor of his own French Quarter art gallery. It never crossed his mind to become involved in the glittery other world of film and television.
But, somewhere along the line, through the extraordinary word-of-mouth culture of this Crescent City, Albert was introduced to the production staff of one of the country’s most popular television series. And now he is location scout for NCIS New Orleans, poking around in buildings and other people’s houses he has passed his whole life and never entered.
It is, he says, the most fun job he has ever had; one full of surprises.
Need to find a series of tunnels for one segment? No problem, Albert knows which Civil War fort to go to.
Must find an elegant mansion complete with authentic and famous art on the walls?
Piece of cake. There’s a perfect home in Old Metairie, complete with authentic Botticelli paintings. Another has a Renoir in the hallway.
For a person who once ran an art gallery, getting inside such locations was “like being in a museum.”
But while the Hollywood South crowd is known for generous financial rewards to those whose residences, businesses or neighbors are inconvenienced – and most New Orleanians have been warm and welcoming – not everyone wants to be associated with the swarms of crew members, directors, producers and casts.
“Sometimes you get involved with some people and you can tell they are a little fussy about everything,” Albert says. “So we may pull away from those and often they are relieved.”
Albert says that NCIS New Orleans prides itself on presenting an authentic picture of the city. And given that there have been multiple movies and television shows that massacre both our surroundings and our accents, NCIS scenes including marching bands, Red Dress Runs and, yes, even Mardi Gras do seem to have been well-researched and represented.
“The difference with NCIS New Orleans is we get to play New Orleans as New Orleans,” Albert says. “Basically we just kind of take the city and what it offers and throw it up there.”
And what if they miss? Can a location scout say anything to change things?
“Oh yeah,” he says. “The whole crew, makeup, hair, cameramen, oh so many people, they’ll let you know in a heartbeat.”