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TV Critics Tour: The next 'Fargo' will forgo big stars (maybe)

Beverly Hills -- "Fargo" will return for a second season — no surprise — and will be written (along with assists by a number of top writers) by Noah Hawley — also no surprise — and will eventually be a huge magnet of commentary, bloviation and gaseous analysis by critics (like me.)

Again, no surprise. But here is the surprise: FX chief John Landgraf said Monday that fans should not expect a star on the order of magnitude of someone like Billy Bob Thornton (Lorne Malvo) to sign up for the new edition, arriving late next year. This series, he insisted, can subsist without major stars and in fact one of many "Fargo-ian" pleasures was to have discovered unknowns like Allison Tolman (who played the heroic cop, Molly Solverson.)

Debate among yourselves, but "Fargo" absolutely needs another major star to join, if only to remind viewers that he or she is still a "major star." (My hunch is that Landgraf is simply telling agents out there that — no — your asking price is far too high. But let's keep talking...)

In any case, showrunner Noah Hawley met up with TCA tribe Monday to explain what the new season will be about.

Maureen Ryan of "Huffington Post" has a good run-down of all the details here. And I have the quotes. The basic stuff to know: The new series will go back to 1979, and begin with the younger Lou Solverson (played by Keith Carradine, who currently has a fulltime job with new CBS series, "Madam Secretary.") None of the original cast members will appear in the new series, and Molly will actually be a four-year old.

Here's what Hawley said: "The second go around is basically the same. It’s about creating truthiness out of falsehoods. And a lot of that has to do with the way that the story unfolds, because truth is stranger than fiction. So the goal for me is not to find a real life case and follow it. It’s to create a fictional case that ends up feeling real. I spoke to Allison Tolman this morning and told her that unless she could channel her four-year-old self, we weren’t going to be able to have her in Season 2, which is a crime and a tragedy, and you should all be very angry at us for doing that because I would like nothing more than to see the continuing adventures of Molly and Gus [Colin Hanks.]

"But it felt like it would just be disingenuous, in the service of truthiness, to give them another crazy Coen Brothers case. So yeah, so Lou Solverson as a 33-year- old man, you know, recently back from Vietnam. We would meet Molly’s mother, who was not a character in Season One. And we may learn what happened to her.

"And then there was one other person in that rodeo who was Pete Breitmayer’s character, Ben Schmidt, the lieutenant [in the Duluth Police department who gave Gus a hard time], who will factor in there somewhere. And then, you know, there’s a lot of clues that are left in the first season about events and how they unfolded there, and we will do our best to hit those in unexpected ways."

Here's what Warren Littlefield — former NBC Entertainment chief, and now executive producer of "Fargo," had to say: "Getting Billy Bob to sign on and play Lorne Malvo gave us a credibility that we really deserved to play in a Coen world. And then Billy came and just delivered. So I think what John was saying is, “Hey, Allison Tolman was unknown” and one of the great things about television is you get to make stars. And audiences claim those fresh faces as their own. They really, really make a bond. And as Noah said, it’s a crime for us not to be able to continue to use Allison. But it doesn’t work in our anthology."

Tags: Fargo , Joel and Ethan Coen , FX , Fargo , Billy Bob Thonton , Allison Tolman , Noah Hawley , Warren Littlefield

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