QUIRKY? YOU BETCHA
The man behind Fargo admits it: The TV version of the Oscar-winning movie “tricked” people with this week’s jarring plot twist.
In a far-ranging interview with Vanity Fair, series creator Noah Hawley defends the creative decision that has left regular viewers of the offbeat crime drama agog.
And please take note: If you’ve been watching Fargo on a weekly basis, all spoiler alerts apply from this point onward.
Launched mid-April on the cable channel FX, Fargo is inspired by the 1996 Best Picture-winner of the same name that was written and directed by quirky film auteurs Joel and Ethan Cohen (who hold rank as executive producers on the series).
Set in the Coens’ birthplace of Minnesota, the original film focused on a set group of players – most notably a dogged and very pregnant cop named Marge, played by Best Actress Oscar-winner Frances McDormand – the small-screen version introduced an entirely new cast of characters.
The show’s A-list cast includes British actor Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) as a nebbishy insurance salesman and Billy Bob Thornton as a malevolent hitman.
Over Fargo’s first seven episodes, the only connective story thread between the film and the TV version was that the series briefly referenced a suitcase of ill-gotten cash left behind in the movie.
So imagine the jaws dropping this week when the TV show suddenly vaulted ahead one year to show the pivotal character of small-town police officer Molly (Allison Tolman) fully pregnant and married to fellow cop Gus (Colin Hanks), since relegated to mailman duty.
Suddenly, the brand-new take on Fargo had yet another pregnant lady cop tasked with unravelling brutal crimes.
Hawley, who was previously a writer and producer on the TV series Bones, deftly deconstructs the rationale behind his seeming bait-and-switch tactic.
“At first it felt like the year jump might be gimmicky,” Hawley told Vanity Fair. “So I slept on it and I literally woke up the next morning and thought, ‘Oh, she’s pregnant and that’s why.’ I like the idea of creating a story that’s unpredictable in the best sense, but in the end everything that happens feels inevitable.”
Added Hawley: “I knew from the beginning that the biggest challenge I had was giving Molly’s character her fair shake. And the way I did that was to trick people.”
Lavished with praise by reviewers (including The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle), Fargo, the series, is less an homage to the original film and more an exercise in how far TV writers can push viewers.
Toward that end, the show has demonstrated no compunction whatsoever about introducing an intriguing character in one episode – like the hitman Mr. Wrench (Adam Goldberg) or affable chief-of-police Vern (Shawn Doyle) – and then killing them off abruptly in the next one.
“When you give the show those No Country for Old Men stakes, people want to tune in, and if you’ve made them laugh, then they worry about these characters and we’ve proven that we will kill them.”
All of which has set the bar high for the closing chapters of Fargo’s inaugural season (the show is expected to be renewed for a second season in the next few weeks).
And all Hawley will reveal about the show’s remaining two episodes is that Fargo, the series, will not end in the same manner as the movie.
“No,” he said. “There’s no woodchipper.”
STILL BOLDLY GOING
William Shatner will lead the way on horseback at the Calgary Stampede. The 83-year-old Canadian actor and Star Trek mainstay has been selected as lead marshal for the parade to open the annual exhibition and rodeo when it begins on July 4. Shatner will be joined in the parade by Canadian Olympic athletes Gilmore Junio and Denny Morrison, both serving as honorary marshals.
Source: CBC News
KISS AND TELL
Who says there are no new concepts in reality TV? According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new show called I Slept With a Celebrity is currently being shopped around networks and cable outlets by Andy Cohen, best known for hosting the Bravo talk-show Watch What Happens Live. The program descriptor: “Each weekly episode will feature two guests dishing about how their walk with fame led to a walk of shame, describing where they met, where they went and what they wore – or didn’t.” Cohen will serve as an executive producer on the series, which is still in the preproduction stage.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Magician Darcy Oake will attempt a “very dangerous piece” to compete for the top prize on Britain’s Got Talent. The Winnipeg-born magician is one of 10 finalists competing for the grand prize on the British talent-search series, which will hand over £250,000 (about $456,000 Canadian) to the winner. And Oake, the son of veteran CBC sportscaster Scott Oake, promises his last stage turn will involve a life-threatening stunt. “The way we’re doing it, it’s risky – big time,” said Oake this week. “But I feel like each piece needs to be bigger than the last one, and this is kind of the only way to close out the show for me.” The winner of Britain’s Got Talent will be determined by viewer voting this Saturday night.
Source: CTV News
Was Justin Bieber the intended victim of a recent shakedown attempt by the man who had a five-year-old video of him telling a racist joke? According to TMZ, Bieber’s reps were contacted by a lawyer representing the unnamed party, who was allegedly a producer that worked on one of the singer’s earlier video projects. Sources says the man saw the video of a 15-year-old Bieber telling the racially offensive joke and decided to steal it. The TMZ source says the lawyer requested $1-million (U.S.) for the video, with the price quickly dropping to $800,000 and then $500,000. The video was released to TMZ and other outlets one week later.
Jonah Hill has apologized – again – for levelling a homophobic slur against a paparazzo last weekend. On the same day of his profuse apology on The Howard Stern Radio Show, Hill went on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday to reiterate his contrition. Hill told the audience that the paparazzo in question had been following him all day and repeatedly insulted him to his breaking point. “In response, I wanted to hurt him back, and I said the most hurtful word that I could think of at that moment,” said the 30-year-old actor. Hill closed off his apology by urging young people to use him as an example of inappropriate behaviour, adding that using anger to defuse a situation “just adds more ugliness to the world.”
Source: Huffington Post