‘Little Steven’ back in Norway

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American musician and actor Steven Van Zandt, best known as “Little Steven” in Bruce Springsteen’s band, is back in Norway and working on the second season of the popular Lilyhammer TV series for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and Netflix. This year they have a bigger budget, reported NRK on Thursday.

Steven Van Zandt plans a former hit man hiding in Lillehammer from the mafia. The show will premiere in both Norway and the US early next year. PHOTO: Rubicon TV/NRK

‘Lillyhammer star’ Steven Van Zandt plays a former gangster hiding in Lillehammer from the mafia and dealing with various cultural conflicts as an American immigrant in Norway. The show set ratings records for NRK when it premiered last winter. PHOTO: Rubicon TV/NRK

Filming of the next batch of Lilyhammer episodes, in which Van Zandt plays a relocated gangster coping with cultural conflicts in Norway, started this week in and around both the cities of Oslo and Lillehammer, where the series is set. Van Zandt, who was prevented from filming more episodes last year because he was busy touring with Springsteen, is expected to be in Norway until the middle of March.

Now there’s also talk of a third season of the show, which set ratings records for NRK when it premiered last winter. It also has been sold to several other countries including the important US and British markets.

Tone Rønning, project chief for NRK, said NRK has an option for a third season, “but we haven’t made a decision about that yet.” The current project calls for eight new episodes of 45 minutes each.

Rønning said the second season will be completed this fall and that it has a bigger budget after requests from not least Van Zandt himself, who bluntly told NRK last year that “we need more money.” The entire budget for the the second season of Lilyhammer is now set at NOK 62 million (about USD 11 million), reported NRK this week, up nearly 25 percent from the first season but still considered relatively low according to Lasse Hallberg of production company Rubicon.

Hallberg said that with so many international TV channels now airing the show, the extra money will be used to improve both its quality and ambition. The humor in the show, which revolves around Norwegian customs and Van Zandt’s attempts to both adapt and challenge local ways, will, for example, need to appeal to a wide variety of cultures around the world, Hallberg noted.

Rønning  also noted that NRK isn’t alone in bearing the higher production costs, because Netflix is included “as an equal partner” and is sharing them. Netflix has also been given credit for helping to make the series a success. “Lilyhammer is a unique Norwegian-American project, so it’s great that also the financiang is Norwegian-American,” Leif Holst Jensen, secretary general of the Norwegian production association Produsentforeningen, told NRK.no.

Several actors and comedians well-known in Norway have been added to the cast for the second season, including Else Kåss Furuseth, Henriette Steenstrup and Jon Øigarden, who’s also currently starring in the NRK drama series Halvbroren.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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