Star wants third ‘Lilyhammer’ season

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Steven Van Zandt, the American singer and musician who’s also been starring in the Norwegian TV series “Lilyhammer,” says he’d like to make yet another season of the popular show that’s now airing around the world. He also thinks Norwegian TV and film production should have more international exposure.

Steven Van Zandt (far right), wearing one of the old official ski jackets from the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, in a scene from the show where he and his new Norwegian companions deny taking part in an illegal wolf hunt. PHOTO: NRK / Views and News

Steven Van Zandt (far right), wearing one of the old official ski jackets from the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, in a scene from the first season of “Lilyhammer.’ PHOTO: NRK / newsinenglish.no

Van Zandt, who’s been back in Norway this winter working on the second season of the hit show, told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend that if he gets his way, there will be a third season of Lilyhammer. The show, which debuted on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) last winter and set ratings records, is currently  attracting television audiences in Australia and as one viewer wrote to newsinenglish.no, “Australia loves Lilyhammer.”

“NRK and (production company) Rubicon kicked in the doors for the Norwegian TV and film industries with Lilyhammer,” Van Zandt, best known as “Little Steven” in Bruce Springsteen’s band, told Aftenposten. “It’s the only TV series in history that’s been shown simultaneously in its homeland and in the US.”

Van Zandt is clearly proud of the series that’s now been sold to 138 countries so far. It revolves around his character, a former mafia boss in New York who winds up in Lillehammer, Norway as part of a government witness protection program. The tough New Yorker who finds himself transplanted to the relatively quiet Norwegian town that hosted the 1994 Olympics immediately runs into a chain of misunderstandings and mishaps, with culture clashes on both sides as the new immigrant deals with his Norwegian neighbours, friends and colleagues.

Officials at NRK have been surprised by the success of the series. Tone C Rønning, project chief for drama and culture at NRK, said she and her colleagues are “in dialogue” over a third season for Lilyhammer. She said response from abroad has been “overwhelming” and that Lilyhammer’s success has “exceeded my wildest dreams about how the public would love this series.” She wrote in an e-mail to Aftenposten that “we get to show off some of Norway” and that the series portrays Norwegian society without the Norwegians taking themselves too seriously. “That can be good for Norway, too,” she wrote.

Cooperation among NRK, Rubicon and US-based Netflix has been important for the success of Lilyhammer, and Van Zandt urges other forms of cooperation in the future. “Norway has more talent per capita than many other countries,” he said. “Norwegian producers and productions therefore need to be exposed to the whole world. Norwegian TV production is an industry waiting to blossom.”

He said he hopes things will “start happening” as soon as next year, “but in Norway things take a bit more time than I’m used to.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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