The musical ‘Nine Lives’ could become a TV miniseries

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Chris Joseph and Paul Sanchez. Photo by Lee Celano.

nine livesa book about nine characters in New Orleans spanning the years from Hurricane Betsy in 1965 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that was later adapted into a musical, has been cast as a potential TV miniseries according to a post Facebook of Chris Joseph, director of Threadhead Recordings, which produced CDs of all 39 songs from the musical.

nine lives started as a book written in 2009 by New York Times best-selling author and former New Yorker writer Dan Baum. The nonfiction book follows a cross section of New Orleans between the 40 years of the two epic hurricanes. In 2011, Paul Sanchez and his writing partner Colman deKay turned the book into a musical, which has been staged in New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC, as well as several shows in New Orleans.

“I can finally announce the good news – Glad to be part of an effort that has been successful in securing the TV and film rights to develop the book nine lives in what is hoped to be a limited television mini-series,” posted Joseph on his Facebook account. “There’s still a lot of work to be done to develop that, and of course there’s no guarantee of success… the first step is to develop a pitch/treatment, and I’m working with Paul Sanchez and Johnny Sanchez on that. I can’t say much more about it at the moment, but please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any ideas or thoughts.

Joseph is a familiar and prominent figure in New Orleans. He lives in Santa Monica, Calif., but has only missed two jazz festivals since the late 1980s, the second absence in 2017 due to cancer treatment. During this time, he became an advocate and catalyst for the music community. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he assembled a global network of passionate Jazz Festers, dubbed the Threadheads, to fund New Orleans artists struggling to make albums. Thread head records funded the operation before the concept became fashionable, with dozens of releases from local artists such as Sanchez, Alex McMurray, John Boutté, Susan Cowsill and Debbie Davis. And that sparked the creation of the Threadhead Foundation, which raises money for grants for New Orleans music and arts projects and education.

Baum died on October 8, 2020, at his home in Boulder, Colorado from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. As editor for the New Yorkerhe was sent to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where he became fascinated by the people he met.

“He was so impressed with the triumphant spirit of the people of New Orleans in the face of tragedy that he needed it to be more” than a series of articles, Sanchez told the Timetable-Picayune. “He needed it to be a book.”

The nine characters included former New Orleans police officer Tim Bruneau; high school band principal Wilbert Rawlins Jr.; JoAnn Guidos, the trans owner of Kajun’s Pub; attorney Billy Grace, a former Rex; Trumpeter Coroner Frank Minyard; and Joyce Montana, the widow of Indian Mardi Gras Chief Tootie Montana.

Learn more about the production of nine lives at the Center d’art contemporain in 2012 in this article by OffBeat contributing writer John Swenson.

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