By Larry Blumenfeld
The cast of Treme and the characters they play draw on all walks of New Orleans life. Pierce, who portrayed surly detective Bunk Moreland on The Wire, was born and raised in the city's Pontchartrain Park neighborhood; his character's last name, Batiste, references one of the city's storied musical lineages. Clarke Peters (stoic detective Lester Freamon on The Wire) plays the Mardi Gras Indian Chief Albert Lambreaux, who is also a jazz bassist: His scenes were vetted by Donald Harrison Jr., a New Orleans native who straddles both worlds in real life. Davis Rogan, a local musician and former WWOZ-FM DJ, provided a real-life template for the musical passion and sketchy employment history of Davis McAlary, the character played by Steve Zahn. Kim Dickens plays Janette Desautel, a chef fighting to keep her restaurant open. John Goodman plays Creighton Bernette, a Tulane University professor whose angry declamations ("The flooding of New Orleans was a manmade catastrophe") were drawn in part from those of blogger Ashley Morris; Melissa Leo plays his wife, Toni, a civil rights attorney who often finds herself defending musicians. The numerous musicians playing themselves, often in performance, range from such recognizable stars as Elvis Costello and Dr. John to local heroes like Ruffins and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.