Among the many other motion pictures that will be filmed in New Orleans this summer, Lee Daniels, director of the film Precious, has also chosen the Big Easy as the filming location for his latest film, The Butler. The film, based on a Washington Post article by Wil Haygood, tells the story of Eugene Allen, a man who served in the White House for more than thirty years and eight presidential administrations.
Forest Whitaker will be playing the title role, with other stars such as John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda and Minka Kelly, all slated to play various Presidents and First Ladies. But the star I’m most excited to see attached to the film is none other than Queen of All Things (except maybe network television ownership) – Ms. Oprah Winfrey.
I’ve been ecstatic about the news for weeks now, and recently I sat down with some friends to discuss all the things Oprah should do while she has an extended stay here. Here are our Top 10 suggestions:
1) Stop by KIPP Believe College Prep on Carrollton Avenue. The school was selected to receive a major library renovation and overload of books and technology on Oprah’s Farewell Episode, with the help of Target. She should see firsthand the great work some of our charter schools are doing within a school system still trying to find its way.
2) Check out the Audubon Zoo, one of the best in the country, and if she gets too hot she can pay the extra four dollars (she can swing it), to enjoy the Cool Zoo. I bet she’s got some Ralph Lauren beach towels easily available.
3) After the Zoo, drive over the Riverbend, pick up a daiquiri, and watch the sun set at The Fly. It’s a great place to meditate and contemplate her next steps toward world domination.
4) Sleep in on a Sunday and go over to Café Degas for brunch. Spend some time meeting locals in a relaxed atmosphere where you’re sitting on top of people and you don’t mind it.
5) Being so close to City Park, stroll over (or get your personal driver to take you) to NOMA to see the new Ralston Crawford and Jazz exhibit, which opens June 22nd. The exhibit “considers the relationships between music, photography, painting, drawing, and film as they intersect in Crawford’s work in New Orleans.” It should give her a great explanation about what makes our city so awesome.
6) Head down St. Claude Avenue to the New Orleans Healing Center. The center is a community space home to an art gallery, yoga and dance studio, theater and live music space, coffee and juice bar, and, among many others, the New Orleans Food Co-Op. Ms. Winfrey should participate in our movement toward local, environmentally sensitive food production. And after feeling good about herself she can hit up the plethora of delicious, less-than-healthy restaurants that we’re really known for.
7) My group decided on a very short list of restaurants that Oprah should hit up to get the true New Orleans experience. In no way does it cover all the great dining opportunities at her disposal, but it’s a good place to start: Liuzza’s in Mid City, Elizabeth’s in the Bywater, The Munch Factory in Gentilly, The Gumbo Shop in the Quarter, Acme Oyster House in Metairie, and Domilise’s Uptown.
8) If she’s still here in August, she should partake in the Red Dress Run. What better way to help support more than 60 nonprofits in the New Orleans area while watching 8,000 people running drunkenly through the streets of the city in bright red regalia?
9) As I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities to hear some incredible live music, she should save a Thursday night to go over to Vaughan’s Lounge and hear Kermit Ruffins play. It’ll be hot, but it’ll be worth it.
10) On a personal note, we’d also like to invite Oprah to come over for brunch at my friend Lauren’s house one Sunday. She can invite Gayle. We’ll cook and supply the mimosas and Bloody Marys, if she brings her famous Moscow Mules.
It’s a short list, and it obviously doesn’t include all that we have to offer, but it’s a good place to start.
ALSO! In case you haven’t seen it yet, check out the newly released teaser trailer for Django Unchained, the locally shot film starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington and Leonardo Di Caprio by clicking here: