FX CEO John Landgraf Talks FARGO Limited Series, THE STRAIN, and More; Says THE STRAIN Will End Up Running Between 39 and 65 Episodes

     August 2, 2013

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While at the FX portion of the TCA Press Tour, FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf took some time to discuss some of their upcoming programming.  During the interview, he talked about what viewers can expect from the TV version of Fargo, Joel and Ethan Coen’s involvement, the possibility of future seasons, their upcoming historical programming, just how graphic The Strain (from the novels of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan) will be, and how it will end up being between 39 and 65 episodes.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

fargoQuestion:  With Fargo, is Billy Bob Thornton playing the William H. Macy character from the movie, and is there a female sheriff character?

JOHN LANDGRAF:  There is no William H. Macy character.  There are no characters in the limited series Fargo that are derived from the characters in the film Fargo.  It’s hard to describe how remarkably true to the film the show is.  When Joel and Ethan Coen actually saw the script, they said, “Well, we don’t really know how to give notes, so can we rewrite it?”  And we were like, “Well, yeah, sure.  We’d be happy to have you.”  And then, they sent back half a dozen pages with just a few dialogue suggestions.  They really thought Noah Hawley had nailed the tone of the show.  There is a female cop, but she’s not a sheriff.  She’s a young deputy.  She’s in her early 20s, and so she’s not really the character from Fargo.  All I can tell you is that I think people are just going to be really entranced with that show.  I think it’s going to be extraordinary.  He’s just managed, somehow, to invent a new version of Fargo that is really its own thing, but also is true to the spirit of the original.

So, will there not be a second season of Fargo? 

LANDGRAF:  The story of Fargo ends at the end at the tenth episode of Fargo.  Those characters won’t continue.  Just like American Horror Story, the characters don’t continue from one season to the next.

Then, further seasons are possible?

the-strain-guillermo-del-toro-book-coverLANDGRAF:  I guess that’s conceivable.  It would have to be a whole new story, in the tone and vernacular of Fargo, but not those characters because it’s a fully satisfying, closed-ended story.  I really am excited about the innovation of American Horror Story.  It’s an exciting forum.  I don’t know if Fargo will go down that path.  If it’s as good as I think is, then it would be exciting for me, if it went down that path.

Do you have any interest in exploring different periods of time with your shows, or do you want to stay in the here and now?

LANDGRAF:  We’ve actually bought quite a number of historical pieces.  We are doing a piece on the abolitionists, Harper’s Ferry and the abolitionist John Brown with Paul Giamatti.  If you think about how broadcast mini-series approach historical events, there is a hagiography.  There has been a soft, very glossy idea about history.  And one of the things I like about Game of Thrones, for example, is just the grit and the authenticity.  We also have a piece about the Mayflower, but it’s just a very different, very gritty, very character-driven version of why those people were on that boat and what the experience was like for them, emotionally, physically and spiritually, and also the Native Americans and what the state of Native American society was at that time.  

How graphic will The Strain be?

LANDGRAF:  It’s pretty graphic.  It’s a horror show.  I think you can expect content commensurate with The Walking Dead or American Horror Story.

With a trilogy of books completing that story, will you continue the series beyond that?

LANDGRAF:  No.  It’s a trilogy, and the trilogy ends the story.  It’s a truly epic story.  And when Guillermo [del Toro] came in to sell it, one of the things they made clear is that they wanted to tell the story of the books.  That story would be told over three, four or five seasons.  They have work to do, in terms of figuring out how they are going to resituate that story, in an episodic television series, but it will be somewhere between 39 and 65 episodes.  No less and no more, and I’m really excited about that.  

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