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17th Annual Martin…

Mar 6 - 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… more

Andrew Jackson: Hero…

Mar 6 - 29, 2015
THNOC's exhibition tracks Jackson's rise from humble beginnings to immortality… more

Artist Spotlight…

Mar 6 - 31, 2015
New Orleans-based woodturning artist Tom Dunne will be the featured artist in… more

Edgar Degas: The…

Mar 6 - May 24, 2015
Featuring drawings, prints, sculpture, and photographs, all from a single… more

Friends of the…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Local jazz band, the Panorama Jazz Band, will bookend the final concert of… more

International…

Mar 6 - 7, 2015
Now in its seventh year, the New Orleans International Children's Film… more

Jefferson Arts…

Mar 6 - 15, 2015
Mrs. Stancliffe's Rose Cottage Bed & Breakfast has been successful for many… more

Jim Roche: Cultural…

Mar 6 - Jul 12, 2015
Born in 1943, Jim Roche received a BA from Florida State University (1961)… more

Lauren Sturm - Bayou…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Performs solo acoustic piano. more

Maple Leaf Bar…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Join us for live entertainment featuring Groovesect. more

Mark Steinmetz: South

Mar 6 - May 10, 2015
Mark Steinmetz lives and works in Athens, Georgia. His work transcends the… more

Music at the Mint…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Billie performs mainly in an avant-garde, free style painting expansive… more

Opening Reception -…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Join us  for a free opening reception for Radcliffe Bailey: Recent Works… more

Ponchatoula Antique…

Mar 6 - 8, 2015
Featuring-Antique Collectibles Booth, Fine Arts & Crafts Booth, Food Booth,… more

Preservation Jazz…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Live New Orleans Jazz Nightly! more

Preservation Resource…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
The patron party features specialty cocktails and cuisine from world famous… more

Stage Door Canteen…

Mar 6 - Apr 5, 2015
"Always ... Patsy Cline," a musical play, complete with down-home… more

Tennessee Williams:…

Mar 6 - May 31, 2015
Tennessee Williams was one of the most admired playwrights of the 20th century.… more

The Boat Show

Mar 6 - 8, 2015
The entire Mercedes-Benz Superdome floor will evolve into the region's largest… more

The French Market…

Mar 6 - 6, 2015
Deborah Etienne creates her gumbo while the local musicians talk about the… more

17th Annual Martin…

Mar 6 - 7, 2015
Join us for the 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Art… more

Side Order: A tour of New Orleans movie sites

Washington Post

Side Order: A tour of New Orleans movie sites By Cara Kelly

The New Orleans Movie Tour shows off the charms that make the city the third most popular film location after Los Angeles and New York. That includes non-movie spots, such as Napoleon, a bar.

The farmers market along an avenue framed by office buildings is bustling with shoppers examining the fruits and vegetables on offer. Suddenly, the crowds look up toward the sky as billowing brown clouds and fireballs start to choke out the sun. A green-masked man flies into the scene to protect the screaming, panicked people, who are now running for their lives.

The clip ends, and the mini-screens in our 16-passenger van go black. We're still in the middle of the street, just sans ominous clouds and green hero. We've just watched a segment from the 2011 blockbuster "The Green Lantern".? It's one of the films highlighted in the New Orleans Movie Tour, a two-hour driving excursion that showcases the locations of some of the most famous scenes filmed in and around the Big Easy.

Personal Post .As we sit in front of the hotel that the villain Parallax had descended over moments ago, Jonathan and Michelle Ray tell us about the movie's economic impact on the city "it was the largest production in Louisiana history with a $200 billion price tag " and the confusion it created when residents started to think that the farmers market was real, and not an elaborate set put up by Warner Bros.

It was still early by New Orleans standards, well before noon, and I'd taken only the first few sips of my cup of bitter chicory coffee. But the Rays' excitement was helping to cut through my pre-Mardi Gras celebration haze.

Self-proclaimed movie buffs, the husband-and-wife team launched the city's first movie tour company nine months ago to combine their twin obsessions: all things film and New Orleans. After relocating from Connecticut, they were shocked to learn that no one was providing tours of famous locations from such classics as "A Streetcar Named Desire," or newer TV shows such as HBO's "Treme."?

A film professional who has worked on camera crews and even plays a recurring role in USA's upcoming series "Common Law,"? Jonathan is quick to tell me about New Orleans's emergence as the "Hollywood of the South" and its $1.3 billion movie industry.

"A lot of people come down here and have no idea how many things are filmed here," he said. "It's the third most popular location after Los Angeles and New York."

He rattles off a half-dozen productions either in the works or starting later this year. Will Ferrell is in town with Zach Galifianakis, filming "Dog Fight" (recently renamed "The Campaign") and taking some time off during Mardi Gras to serve as King Bacchus. And "Now You See Me," a thriller starring Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman, recently started production.

After scooping up the other passengers, we take off toward Canal Street. Michelle provides historical background in conjunction with the film trivia that Jonathan spouts, and starts filling us in on what residents call "the neutral grounds," known elsewhere as medians. The grassy areas in the middle of the streets were the meeting ground for the French Creoles and the Americans after the Louisiana Purchase, she explains as we pull up to the rails where Vivien Leigh, as Blanche DuBois, famously searched for the streetcar named Desire. (Which is still in operation, Michelle adds. It's No. 922.)

Jonathan leads us on a winding path through the narrow streets of the French Quarter, pointing out Tennessee Williams's house, the wrought-iron balcony where Elvis Presley sang in "King Creole" and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, the old dive bar where Melanie Griffith grabs a cocktail in "Crazy in Alabama."

The couple also offer entertaining snippets completely unrelated to the film industry, explaining where to get a traditional New Orleans Pimm's Cup (the Napoleon), where to hear the best jazz in the city (the bars on Magazine Street) and where to get a $10 haircut and a shot on Monday nights (the Royal Street Inn). These insider tips make me want to jump out of the van and soak up all the city has to offer. Then a clip of "Runaway Jury" starts playing, and Jonathan and Michelle have my attention once again.

Personal Post .A trip through the Garden District to see Benjamin Button's house and the graveyard in "Double Jeopardy" winds down the tour, and Jonathan opens the floor to questions. This part can get complicated, he says, as fellow film enthusiasts typically quiz him on obscure flicks with ties to the city. Which is why he's seen them all, including the bad ones, such as the second "Candyman" movie and anything starring a vampire.

Today he fields some fairly tame questions on "Runaway Jury." Yes, it was entirely filmed in Louisiana. No, you can't get into the courtrooms.

As I leave the van, I find myself plotting a trip to Congo Square to further inspect one of the locations in "Ray," and then to the Napoleon for a cool drink. Which is exactly what Jonathan and Michelle hoped I'd do.

"One of our goals is really to get people out and show them the city," Michelle says. "There are so many things to do."

Joining friends for brunch, I start recounting my newly acquired knowledge of the Big Easy, telling them where Sandra Bullock's vacation house is, that Jonathan had pointed out Mos Def (a.k.a., more recently, Yasiin Bey) walking down the street and that I think we should try the $10 haircut/shot thing. They listen raptly, and I begin to understand why the Rays were shocked that no one had thought to set up their kind of tour before.

New Orleans Movie Tours

800-979-3370 (tickets)

504-520-9747 (info)

www.nolamovies.com

Two-hour tours depart from the French Quarter most days at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Adults $39, children 4-12 $29. Advance purchase required.

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