Viewers who didn’t change the channel after “Downton Abbey” Sunday night were introduced to PBS’ new Civil War medical drama “Mercy Street.”

Helmed by director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Thelma and Louise,” “Black Hawk Down” and most recently, “The Martian”), the series is based on real events of the spring of 1862. Instead of focusing on the front lines of the war, the story delves into what unfolded on the homefront, specifically inside Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia.

Among the cast is Shalita Grant, a familiar face to “NCIS: New Orleans” fans, who plays Aurelia Johnson, a young escaped slave working as a laundress at the hospital.

“You want to be free, you gotta take it,” her character will tell Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher III) in a upcoming episode.

“I would describe Aurelia as a woman who is trying to live her best life in spite of society and incredibly complex personal challenges,” said Grant on the PBS website. “She is a free woman, but freedom for a lot of ex-slaves was not truly freedom without family. So she comes to Mansion House and reaches out to this man to help her, and he takes advantage of her. Then she meets a man who is free and black and capable, and it seems like it could be viable, but there are just so many things that keep it from being so.

“My relationship with Samuel is unfortunate. It is fraught. He is so open and so generous and wants to love her, and she can’t because if she does she could lose everything,” Grant said.

In October, Grant told The Advocate that she learned she had landed the “Mercy Street” role about the same time she found out her recurring role as Sonja Percy on “NCIS: New Orleans” was becoming permanent for Season 2.

“So I orchestrated a move from my house in Redondo Beach (California) to New Orleans from Virginia (where ‘Mercy Street’ is shot),” she said. “It was a crazy couple of months, that May to June (2015) period.”

Grant said she shot six episodes of “Mercy Street” over those two months before resettling in New Orleans.

“Mercy Street” airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12). “NCIS: New Orleans” is at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on WAFB, Channel 9 (cable Channel 7).

Richmond gets ‘real’

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) made an appearance on Sunday night’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” on Bravo TV.

In the episode, some of the “wives” traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend festivities for the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. Housewife Phaedra Parks hosted a luncheon to garner support for her Saving Our Sons mentoring project, and Richmond was among those on hand.

“Well, look, New Orleans showed up,” Parks said, as the Louisiana lawmaker entered.

RHOA airs at 7 p.m. Sundays.

Outdoor ‘Duck’

The West Monroe-shot reality series featuring the Phil Robertson clan has joined the world of syndication.

“Duck Dynasty,” spotlighting the family and its Duck Commander empire, is now airing on the Outdoor Channel (cable Channel 247) at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Mondays, with repeats at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. that night. Season 1 began airing this week.

The regular series is in its ninth season on A&E (cable Channel 39), airing at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

Heroes entries due

The deadline is Feb. 1 for nominations for the 2016 Louisiana Young Heroes Awards.

The awards, sponsored by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, are given to students in grades 7-12 who are inspirational to those around them.

“Young Heroes succeed academically — some despite overcoming obstacles in their lives. Most have donated time and energy to causes near and dear to them. Some Young Heroes have cared for family members or even saved lives,” according to a news release.

Nominations can be made online at Former Young Heroes are not eligible. Nominees must be enrolled in a Louisiana public, private or parochial school, and cannot be more than 19 years of age. Winners will be announced on LPB on Feb. 12.

For more information, call (800) 272-8161, ext. 4276, or (225) 767-4276, or email

‘What is LSU?’

The university got a shout-out on the game show “Jeopardy” last week when the following popped up: “Based in Baton Rouge, Tiger Rag Magazine calls itself “the bible of” this school’s sports teams.”

Ben Almoite, of Ricmond, Virignia, was quick with the correct response, adding $1,200 to his earnings.

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