Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser is joining the discussion regarding New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell's request that Lauren Daigle not perform in the city's New Years Eve celebration.
While the announcement of Daigle being a performer for the NYE celebration had not been officially announced, Cantrell urged Dick Clark Productions in a letter last week to not "reward [Daigle] with national media exposure and a public spotlight."
The call for Daigle to be removed from the lineup comes from a November 7 rally and concert in the French Quarter. Cantrell says the event was unpermitted and in violation of public health guidelines.
Nungesser said that Cantrell's actions "cost not just New Orleans the opportunity at invaluable, worldwide promotion at a time when it's needed most, they also cost every city in Louisiana that had a chance at hosting the event."
He added that when the mayor's "personal feelings toward Lauren Daigle being tapped to promote her city came to light," officials attempted to move the celebration outside of New Orleans and even Orleans Parish, considering a riverboat in Gretna with New Orleans as a background as a possible location.
"It was then Mayor Cantrell took the issue to the next level, writing letters and making phone calls to Dick Clark Productions and ABC," said Nungesser. "The result of her actions was a decision by Dick Clark Productions to pull Lauren Daigle from the lineup and any celebration from Louisiana to be broadcast worldwide. In the long run, this action will not only hamper any efforts for New Orleans to recover from the pandemic, but also every city in the state which offered to host the event, and the state as a whole."
A source close to the New Year's Eve production says Nungesser's statement is "categorically false," and that Daigle was never confirmed for the show, reports The New Orleans Advocate. Nungesser had lobbied for Daigle to be involved in the production, but has now canceled the state's $500,000 contract to help cover the cost of the telecast. He said the partnership was dependent upon Daigle's participation.
Daigle has made numerous appearances promoting Louisiana and was a brand ambassador during a 2018 tourism campaign.
"That was the only way we were putting up the money. That was the only way we thought we'd get enough bang for our buck," the Lt. Gov. said in a follow-up interview Tuesday. Cantrell's office is now working with Dick Clark Productions to produce the New Year's Rockin' Eve New Orleans segment.
"To have invested so much into the promotion of our great state, along with promotion of the city of New Orleans, and see one of the biggest opportunities squandered over what can only be described as a retaliation is beyond belief," said Nungesser. "I assure you, the Louisiana Office of Tourism and my office will never waver in our passion for this state and its cities, nor will we let personal feelings interfere with the promotion of Louisiana. We will work tirelessly to return Louisiana to record-breaking tourism years ahead."
New Orleans City Councilwoman Helena Morena, who had been involved in talks about the NYE show, said it was "very disappointing that this went off the rails. I'm not sure why we couldn't just pick another host - we've got so much talent."
READ MORE FROM THE ADVOCATE: Why isn't Lauren Daigle performing at 'New Year's Rockin' Eve? She was never offered the job.
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