Magazine article Variety

Movies and Minis Filled Giant Shoes

Magazine article Variety

Movies and Minis Filled Giant Shoes

Article excerpt

"Fargo" followed the Coens' beloved film. "The Normal Heart" and "Treme" were created in the shadow of rea/ fife tragedies and their aftermath. "Sherlock." "Luther" and "American Horror Story" had to match their own previous seasons. And "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" portrays the Greatest of All Time. For all these nominees, success began with living up to expectations - including their own.

"FARGO" (1)(FX)

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "The Crocodile's Dilemma," Noah Hawley

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "The Crocodile's Dilemma," Adam Bernstein

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "Burldan's Ass," Colin Bucksey

How do you bring a miniseries inspired by a Coen brothers film to cable television? For creator-writer Noah Hawley and director Adam Bernstein, who helmed the first two hours, it involved watching the Coen canon and taking cues not just from the 1996 film but also from 2007's Oscar-winning best picture "No Country for Old Men."

"We took our cue from the palette of 'No Country' yet we were doing our own thing and navigating our own visuals," Bernstein says. For his two episodes, Bucksey also influenced the look, feeling and visual language for the mini, which filmed in Calgary during winter.

For Hawley, the scenario of two men (Emmy-nommed leads Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman) meeting in a hospital emergency room was very Coen-esque. But getting around the absence of the iconic character of Marge was a special challenge.

"We flipped it so that the police chief gets killed and Molly (Allison Tolman) gets to be the chief and hopefully people see the character as entirely different," says Hawley, who wrote the first eight episodes before production started - with assistance from four writers who helped him break stories - and then finished the final two.

"THE NORMAL HEART" (2) (HBO)

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: screenplay by Larry Kramer,

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: Ryan Murphy

Based upon Kramer's largely autobiographical 1985 play, bringing "Heart" to pay cable was an extremely emotional experience for Murphy, as Kramer struggled with health issues.

"He would write those scenes either in the hospital or at home with an IV tube in his arm," Murphy says. "He would stay up until 3 in the morning no matter how high his fever was. I just marveled at that. Writing the script is what got him better. He had waited 30 fucking years to get that thing made, and he was not going to let any illness stop him."

For Murphy, feeling the weight of the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the AIDS crisis, the biggest reward of the project was bringing the story to a new, young audience who was unaware of it.

"So the fact that so many young men and women are looking to become little Larry Kramers for their own causes is by far and away the best thing that I've ever been part of in my whole career."

"AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN" (3)(FX)

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "Bltchcraft." Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special: "Bltchcraft," Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

As the co-creators of the anthology series, Falchuk and Murphy work hard to set the tone with the first episode of the year, spending about six months dreaming it up. and season 3 veered off in a new direction.

"Literally the phrase is 'magical realism,' because that's what we were doing," says Murphy. …

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