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It's Shreveport's Season

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Some New Orleanians have found fortune in Shreveport as well. Southern University of Shreveport has helped evacuees reopen businesses.

All these things are a nice turn for the city, but it is the movie business that has given it something to talk about. When I grew up there the skating rink, Friday night football and the one-story mall anchored by Sears were the major sources of amusement. Now the Louisiana movie blog ( http://louisianamovies.blogspot.com/) touts residents working as extras alongside movie stars.

Producers were drawn to New Orleans in part because of tax incentives offered by the state. After Katrina struck, many of them wanted to remain in Louisiana. And a funny thing happened up I-49. Film companies discovered that Shreveport was a pretty good place to do business.

With no traffic congestion, crews can move from one end of the city to the other in 15 minutes. Housing and apartment rentals are reasonably priced. Since August 2005, the city's has had 25 film and television projects with revenue exceeding $300 million. Movie Maker magazine ranked Shreveport sixth on its "Top Ten U.S. Cities to Live, Work and Make Movies."

There are a few drawbacks, such as no direct flights to Los Angeles. But they haven't derailed this steamer. Millennium Films, which recently wrapped filming in Shreveport of "Major Movie Star" and "Blonde Ambition," starring Jessica Simpson, has announced plans to make six films a year and build a $10 million, 6.7- to 20-acre facility in the blighted area of Ledbetter Heights (known as "the bottom" when I was growing up).

There is room in this biz for all of Louisiana, said Chris Stelly, film and television director for the Louisiana Economic Development Department. "The storm opened up the state. Now North Louisiana, New Iberia and Natchitoches are in play even as New Orleans returns to business," he said.

We can only imagine what the meal would have looked like if not for Katrina, but that's how the dish got served. My home town seems determined to make the most of this course.

yolanda@yolandayoung.com

Yolanda Young is a Washington lawyer and author of a memoir,

"On Our Way to Beautiful."


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