(Baton Rouge--LA) It was a gathering of Hollywood's best with federal and state governments' not bad in the state capital of Louisiana as Mark Burnett announced that Survivor 2009 would be in New Orleans. Ray Nagin, Mayor of the hurricane ravaged Big E-Z, exclaimed: "Didn't I tell you if we had one more goddamn press conference about this goddamn..." But he then caught himself. "This is a goddamn good thing, strike my last goddamn sentiment."
Burnett explained his choice. "At first, we were just going to go to some third world location that would allow us to invade their land, set up facilities that the inhabitants of that land will never have, pay them the equivalent of 1/8 cent US a day to act as guides and then leave them with our empty Pringles and Febreze containers. But then I thought, we have that right here--the Ninth Ward." To which Nagin added: "Goddamn right!"
The Lower Ninth Ward was the location of most of the Katrina devastation and subsequent FEMA amnesia. It is also predominantly African American with 36% of the population below the poverty line. This is the reason why Louisiana governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, lobbied Burnett to make it the specific location for Survivor: New Orleans. "These people have shown that can survive", said Blanco. "They have also shown that they will gladly sign personal liability waivers; and even if they don't, they really don't have the resources to hire competent lawyers." Burnett quickly added, "not that there's anything wrong with that. Survivor is an equal opportunity reality cast exploiter."
Head of FEMA, R. David Paulison, was also pleased. "With all the natural disasters around the world lately, Mr. Burnett could have taken his show anywhere, but he choose New Orleans. I think it speaks to the respect he has for the city. And quite frankly, with our budget deficit larger than the gap between the rich and poor in this country, now that New Orleans is in Mr. Burnett's charge, we really don't need to worry about rebuilding it for thirteen weeks of shooting and four weeks of pre-production." To which Mayor Nagin motivated audience applause with, "can I get a 'goddamn'?"
President Bush, through White House Press Secretary Tony Snow also weighed in with a thumbs up. Snow said, 'The President plans to Tivo every episode of that season even though he will no longer be President, and he doesn't know how to use his Tivo."
FUN FACT: New Orleans is the only U.S. city from a major developed country to be featured on show whose locations are more primitive than the Congressional immigration bill.