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Ya know, Fargo might come here; geez, maybe not

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Above, Frances McDormand in a scene from the  1996 movie.

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Above, Frances McDormand in a scene from the 1996 movie.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Will it be Fargo or no-go? Winnipeg's film and TV production community should have its answer within the next few weeks.

FX Network executives said this week that a final decision will be made soon on whether a new TV series inspired by the Coen Brothers' 1996 classic Fargo will be shot in Winnipeg or Calgary.

"I would say we'll likely know within the next month," FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told the Free Press in an exclusive interview. "There are a lot of factors involved -- economics, crew availability, what we find in terms and locations and, to a certain extent, weather. Ironically, in this case we want inclement weather -- not so inclement that you can't shoot, but certainly inclement enough that there's snow.

"They're actively in discussions and scouting both locations, but they haven't tipped their hand to me yet about which one they're going to choose."

The TV-series version of Fargo, which is expected to air on FX (and FX Canada) in the spring or summer of 2014, will consist of 10 episodes and is being produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, the filmmakers responsible for the 1996 feature. Also involved as executive producers are Noah Hawley (My Generation), who is also writing the scripts, and Warren Littlefield, the former NBC president who is now an independent producer.

According to FX Network's president of original programming, Eric Schrier, the new series will be set in the present and won't feature the same characters as the 1996 film that starred William H. Macy, Frances McDormand and Steve Buscemi. It will, however, seek to recapture the mood and dark humour of the big-screen film.

Cast details for the TV series have not been announced.

"We've been told we can't be guaranteed snow in either location until after about Nov. 1, which is kind of late, but that's when we're going to go into production," said Schrier. "We're deciding between the two, and it's very complex in terms of the tax rebates and the differences between the provincial tax deals. We're just trying to weigh both of them and figure it out."

In terms of geography and topography, it would seem Manitoba should have a bit of an advantage when it comes to matching the bleak-flatland look of the North Dakota/Minnesota overlap, but Schrier said Alberta has shown potential, as well.

"I've seen pictures from both places, and I would agree (that Manitoba's landscape is flatter)," he said. "Our producers and director went out and scouted both Winnipeg and Calgary, and they felt like both could give them what they need. I think they'd have to go a bit farther out of Calgary, but they found some small towns that would work in terms of the story we're telling.

"I hope we'll have a decision in the next couple of weeks. I know Winnipeg has been very aggressive financially in trying to get (the series) there, and I hear the city has a really fantastic crew base."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2013 C3

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