So, during the filming of Fargo‘s second season, it came out one night that Cristin Milioti had never even heard of Cheers, much less seen an episode of it. Apparently that information surfaced when series co-star Ted Danson happened to mention something about it, prompting, according to Fargo executive producer Warren Littlefield, Danson to spend considerable time essentially pitching Cheers to Milioti. The more you know.
The anecdote was typical of the FX drama’s panel discussion, held tonight at PaleyFest New York. Moderated by Matt Zoller Seitz, the Q&A followed a screening of Fargo‘s second season opener. And on hand to talk about it were showrunner Noah Hawley and executive producer Warren Littlefield, along with stars Kirsten Dunst, Jeffrey Donovan, Bokeem Woodbine, Jean Smart, Jesse Plemmons, and Milioti.
Much discussion was made about the pressures of following in the Coen brothers’ footsteps. According to Hawley, however, the pressure in that regard is strictly internal. The Coens, so he and Littlefield insist, have been extremely supportive and extremely hands-off. When the show started, they were told by the duo that “[they] hate imitations, but this looks like you’ve channeled [them].” And when asked how much involvement the Coens wanted, the answer was, “It’s your show.”
Speaking of the show, few details were provided about the new season, which premiered Monday. However, plenty of fun stories about the production were. For example, they filmed in Canada last spring, and as such had to fake winter for much of the shoot. That meant blankets on housetops meant to look like snow and importing real snow from nearby mountains. However, they were competing for said real snow with Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who was shooting much of The Revenant nearby. The two productions would end up going to war over that snow, joked Hawley.
Meanwhile, during the audience Q&A portion, Hawley and Littlefield were asked whether or not television was a better creative space than film right now. “It’s an artist’s market right now on television,” Hawley said, mentioning the various platforms on television and the Internet on which shows can now be created. As a result, he says, “The economic incentive to make great television is that they need to stand out in a crowd.” Therefore, great television is more likely than what he said was a more easily categorized approach of television in the past.
Littlefield agreed. “We live in an age of incredible choice in television,” he said, then quoted Steven Soderbergh, who recently said in an interview that he considered film to be “fear based” as explanation for why he intends to concentrate on television for the foreseeable future. By implication, Littlefield agrees.