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Norway’s Lilyhammer plays US first after legal problems delay local airing

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The first season of Lilyhammer, the Norwegian TV mobster drama starring Italian-American actor Stevie Van Zandt – also guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band - will reach American viewers first, after US Netflix streaming service and cable network scheduled it for February 6.

In Norway, this month’s premiere of the 8 x 46min series produced by Agnete Thuland and Trond Berg-Nilssen for Norway’s Rubicon TV – a part of the Metronome Film & Television group – was delayed by commissioning public broadcaster, NRK, as it is under suspicion of containing paid product-placement, which is illegal in Norway. The local cast includes Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Sven Nordin, Kyrre Hellum and Anne Krigsvoll.

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While considering whether to transmit the production after cutting and re-shooting some problematic scenes, NRK has permitted Netflex to air Lilyhammer in its Original Series slot, which can be received thrugh the internet by US, Canadian and Latin American viewers.

Van Zandt, of fame, plays a New York mobster, Frank The Fixer Tagliano, who asks the FBI for witness protection and is relocated to the sleepy Norwegian town, which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. The change from feared and respected gangster in New York to unemployed immigrant in Oppland is not easy - to move his way up in the provincial society, he has to resort to his old, unscrupulous methods.

In another move, NRK announced that it will double its budget for external drama productions, to spend €32.6 million up till 2017. During the period a total of €97.8 million will be allocated for Norwegian-produced drama, after a market survey concluded that local TV audiences want to watch longer series, probably over several seasons, such as Danish television’s successful The Killing and Borgen.

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