“Never before had I wept in a meeting.” Such was Longmire executive producer Greer Shephard’s emotional reaction when Netflix decided to move forward with Season 4 of the series.
The EPs discussed at TCA today their journey from A&E Network’s cancellation following their Season 3 cliffhanger in late August 2014 to its Netflix Season 4 resurrection scheduled to stream beginning on September 10. In addition, the Longmire panel teased some string from next season’s 10 episodes.
As previously reported, Season 4 promptly picks up with Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), the sheriff of Absaroka County, WY, learning who killed his wife and setting out to avenge her death. In addition, Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), the deputy who Walt fired for being a loose cannon, has his own theories.
Added Shephard, “Season 4 is about second chances. Who you are as a person is defined by how you handle the second chance. Netflix has incorporated that theme in their campaign. There are a lot of ways in which people can rebuild themselves after devastating experiences. We explore that theme throughout each of our characters. Now that Walt knows the murderer of his wife, how does he go on? With Henry, he has a new-found freedom, what does he do with it?”
In addition Shephard revealed that Season 4 will deal with “issues facing Native Americans on their reservations. There are horrific loopholes with their tribal police and courts where they can’t prosecute non-natives that commit crimes on the nation.” This will impact Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Walt. One of the big story notes that Netflix gave the Longmire team: Feel free to be more cinematic; don’t make it like TV.
Despite Longmire being A&E’s most-watched series attracting an average of 5.6M viewers in Season 3, the network axed it, claiming the show wasn’t profitable because advertisers, who pay a premium to reach younger audiences, undervalue older-skewing shows. That was never an issue for subscription-based Netflix. Shephard added: “A&E didn’t have an ownership stake in the show. We’re now at a company that values viewers.”
She gave further props to Warner Bros. TV group chief Peter Roth as the lynchpin to getting Longmire back on the small screen. “It took 12 minutes between the cancellation of the show and him finding (Netflix head of original content) Cindy Holland and letting her know the fate of our show. Netflix had an investment in this. They were streaming previous seasons. Cindy responded immediately. She invited us in to present Season 4 to them,” said Shephard.
“When I heard the news that they were cancelled, I couldn’t believe anybody could be that stupid!” blurted out actor Gerald McRaney, who plays Barlow Connally, “but when I heard Netflix was picking it up, that made sense.”
Season 4 will be available in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Longmire is produced by The Shephard/Robin Company in association with Warner Horizon Television. Hunt Baldwin, John Coveny, Shephard and Michael M. Robin serve as executive producers. Longmire is based on the crime thriller novels by bestselling author Craig Johnson.
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