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Fort Macleod says cheers to Fargo TV series star Ted Danson

Ted Danson signs autographs

Ted Danson signed autographs and posed for photos Wednesday at Cafe Orange

Michael Dyck

Coun. Michael Dyck presented Fargo actor Ted Danson with two books Wednesday on behalf of the Town of Fort Macleod.

Ted Danson, as bartender Sam (Mayday) Malone in the hit television series Cheers, knew that sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.
Danson can add Fort Macleod’s Cafe Orange to the list of places where he is welcomed as an old friend.
Danson, the star of TV and movies, was in town last week for the filming of the award-winning series Fargo.
Danson is known to fans for his work on the TV series Cheers, Becker and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and on such movies as Something About Amelia, Damages, Dad, and the Three Men and a Baby franchise.
Through an initiative set up by Fort Macleod Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce, Danson spent about an hour Wednesday in the cafe on Main Street.
The 64-year-old Danson, sporting a goatee to go with his trademark white mane of hair, spent about an hour signing autographs and chatting and posing for photographs with fans.
“He’s having a great time over there,” Fargo producer Kim Todd said.
The public appearance by Danson is emblematic of the strong relationship Fort Macleod has forged with the Fargo crew since the beginning of the year.
“Things are going really well in Fort Macleod,” Todd said. “We wouldn’t mind a little more snow, but that’s not Fort Macleod’s problem.”
Todd said while no one else wants more snow in town, Fargo’s scripts call for a snowy winter.
“Otherwise Fort Macleod has been fabulous,” Todd said. “Everyone on Main Street has been so hospitable and welcoming.”
Last week marked the second time the Fargo crew has been in Fort Macleod to film scenes for the series, which also casts Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemmens.
Main Street buildings have been transformed to represent the Minnesota town of Luverne in 1979 and the Fargo crew is aware of the impact filming has in Fort Macleod.
“When you’re in a small town you realize you’re having a bigger impact on the overall community,” Todd said, comparing it to Calgary where no one outside the immediate neighbourhood will be aware there is a film crew at work. “To come into Fort Macleod and shoot on Main Street you‘re affecting a lot of people and the town in a big way.”
The Fargo crew has tried to keep business and building owners, as well as the community at large, aware of what will happen during production.
“We need to make sure we give all the information we can about what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, and why,” Todd said. “And we listen to people about what they need, so we’re not disrupting people’s lives.”
With growing interest in Alberta as a location for television and movie crews, Fort Macleod is in a good position to attract more business.
“Your Main Street is so wonderfully preserved that it makes you a really attractive location for shows,” Todd said. “Not just shows that are period (specific), but shows that are looking for small town America.”
Alberta’s film incentive, the beautiful scenery, great crews and actors as well as the low Canadian dollar are all combining to attract film makers.
“Our thought as film makers is this should be an asset that you guys exploit,” Todd said. “We have tried to advise the people in town about how to set themselves up so they’re ready for this when it comes.”
Fargo expects to be in Fort Macleod once more for a single day of shooting in April.
“We know that no matter what we do, we do put people out,” Todd said. “We do appreciate that people have been welcoming and understanding.”
Todd advised Fort Macleod to link with the Alberta Film Commission to get more production crews in town.
And just like Ted Danson, soon everyone in the film industry could know Fort Macleod’s name.

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