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Billy Bob Thornton to star in 'Fargo' series on FX

Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton has inked a deal to star in FX’s “limited series” adaptation of the Coen brothers’ 1996 film “Fargo.”

Production on the 10-part series will begin this fall in Canada. It’s scheduled for release on the basic cable network next spring.

FX CEO John Landgraf told TV critics Friday that the series will be a new take on the “Fargo” story — featuring new characters and an all new “true crime” story — but it will remain “true to the spirit” of the original. In other words, lots of “Minnesota nice” and droll humor.

Thornton will play Lorne Malvo, a rootless, manipulative man who meets a small town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction.

“Fargo” was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won for Best Original Screenplay for Joel & Ethan Coen and Best Actress for Frances McDormand. The film starred Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief pursuing two bumbling criminals hired by a car salesman to kidnap his wife.

“Fargo” the TV show illustrates FX’s embrace of the limited series, which is basically a miniseries. FX Productions is producing one limited series, “Fargo,” this year and plans to do two the following year and three more after that.

Many of the network’s dramas have run for seven seasons or more. “By entering the limited series business, FX can produce dramatic programs that have shorter runs – one, two or three seasons – and offer talented filmmakers more freedom,” according to an FX press release.

FX Productions is also in production on the limited series “Wayward Pines” for Fox. A limited series from M. Night Shyamalan, “Wayward Pines” stars Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino is slated to premiere in summer of 2014.