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Hollywood Insider

FARGO -- Pictured: Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard -- CR. Matthias Clamer/FX

When FX’s Fargo (Tuesdays, 10/9C) premieres this week, you are going to see something that I, for one, never expected to see – a Coen Brothers movie that wasn’t written or directed by the Coen Brothers. One of the key reasons it works is because of Martin Freeman, who is probably best known for playing Bilbo Baggins and Dr. John Watson.

In Fargo, he plays insurance salesman Lester Nyygard, a mousy guy who doesn’t love his job, is constantly henpecked by his wife and even, in a weird way, a victim of classic high school bullying. Recently, Freeman took an hour to chat with a group of journalists/bloggers about the series and his role – and about the experience of making the series.

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FARGO -- Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo -- CR: FX/Matthias Clamer

One of the most interesting – and entertaining – aspects of FX’s Fargo (Tuesdays, 10/9C) is Billy Bob Thornton’s portrayal of Lorne Malvo, a kind of fixer for an unnamed criminal organization. He’s an oddity because he’s capable of dispassionate murder but that’s not his job. He’s kind of the ultimate criminal jack-of-all trades – if it’s illegal and you need it to get done, you call Malvo. While that’s certainly interesting, what makes Malvo fascinating is that he loves to mess with people’s minds. In a way, he’s like Loki, or Coyote – he loves to make mischief. The darker the better.

Thornton took some time to talk with journalists/bloggers (one from Tel Aviv!) about Fargo and Lorne Malvo – and how much he enjoyed the role and the series. Check out what he had to say about his time shooting the series after the jump.

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AMERICAN IDOL: Keith Urban. CR: FOX

From his first appearance as judge on American Idol (Fox, Tuesdays, 8/7C; Wednesdays 9/8C), Keith Urban has consistently been the kindest judge in terms of giving honest critiques without being mean. He also balances touring, and family with his AI gig, so he’s a pretty busty guy.

Recently, he took a bit of time to talk with a group of bloggers about American Idol XIII and was, as usual, charming and open.

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It’s always fun to speak with Justified’s (FX, Tuesdays, 10/9C) creator/showrunner, Graham Yost. He’s as candid as anyone constrained by the need to avoid spoilers can be, and he always seems to be enjoying being interviewed.

With the season finale of Justified coming up this week, Yost took some time to talk about the show and how it’s all about family – and to share a few thoughts on the season to date and the decision to wrap everything up with one last season, next year.

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When Surviving Jack (Fox, Thursday, 9:30/8:30C) premieres this week, we will see something a bit different – something closely approximating a brutally honest (but not uncaring) dad. Christopher Meloni, best known for a long stint on Law & Order: Sexual Victims Unit, plays Jack Dunlevy, ex-military, oncologist and now stay-at-home dad while his wife goes to law school. His parenting skills are more ballpeen hammer than velvet glove and a source of discomfort to his teenaged son and daughter, Frankie and Rachel.

Late last week, Surviving Jack’s executive producers – Bill Lawrence, Justin Halpern (on whose book I Suck at Girls the series is based) and Patrick Schumacker spoke to a group of journalists/bloggers about the ‘90s-set comedy and the mix of skills that won Meloni the role.

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Although tonight’s episode of Bones (Fox, Mondays, 8/7C) doesn’t take up much space in our latest conversation with showrunners Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan, they definitely seemed happy to be back on Monday nights (or, maybe, they had one cup of coffee too many…).

When they chatted with a group of bloggers/journalists on Friday, there was a great deal of laughter and a wide range of topics – ranging from Wendell’s cancer to the gross remains that kick off each episode and even Hanson’s new series, Backstrom (premiering on Fox next season). Stephen Nathan even played Kevin Reilly for a completely unauthorized bit faux scheduling. It was one of the liveliest Q&As of the season. If there are showrunners out there who love talking with the press more than these guys, I’ve yet to encounter them.

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COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: More than three decades after the debut of “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” Carl Sagan’s stunning and iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY sets off on a new voyage for the stars. Seth MacFarlane (FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD) and Sagan’s original creative collaborators.  Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (R), the series will explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time.  Also pictured: writer/executive producer Ann Druyan.

Cosmos (Fox, Sundays, 9/8C) revives the great science series that aired on PBS in the early ‘80s. Why did it land on Fox? What is its mission now?

Series host Neil deGrasse Tyson and executive producer/director/writer Anne Druyan spoke with a group of journalists/bloggers about why the series exists and what it does – and how and why it wound up on Fox. Check it out after the jump.

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