'True Detective' sets new season in state

After a chaotic second season and an extended hiatus, the TV series True Detective is returning to HBO, with a story of a "macabre crime" set in Northwest Arkansas.

In a news release Friday, the studio disclosed little about the show's latest story line, but it isn't difficult to predict the tone. Nic Pizzolatto -- who wrote the majority of the new season and graduated from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 2005 -- favors tales of small-town corruption and violent crime.

Pizzolatto's latest protagonist is a detective for the Arkansas State Police who will be played by Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali. Jeremy Saulnier, who directed the 2015 horror-thriller film Green Room, is set as a director, alongside Pizzolatto.

"I'm tremendously thrilled to be working with artists at the level of Mahershala and Jeremy," Pizzolatto said in the release. "I hope the material can do justice to their talents, and we're all very excited to tell this story."

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism said it's thinking of the new season as an "opportunity to show the beauty of the Ozarks."

But in New Orleans Plantation Country, where the first season was set, communications director Jo Banner said the major sites on the area's True Detective tour guide -- a gas station, a sugarcane field, an oak tree -- aren't much.

"They used everything but what people wanted to see," she said.

Right beside the oak tree where an elderly woman was shot to death on the show, there's a perfectly good plantation home, one that attracts normal tourists from all over. The True Detective film crew wasn't interested in using it, Banner said. Instead, the crew took photos of every oak tree on the property, searching for that perfect one.

Banner can't understand it, but she's happy to have the tourists, she said. And the prospect of an Arkansas-to-Louisiana True Detective tour, that's something she can work with, she said.

In Arkansas, state police spokesman Liz Chapman said True Detective has yet to make any requests of the agency, though it would need to before using any state police uniforms or patrol cars.

Chapman noted that the show isn't the first to turn to the agency for inspiration. Mud, written and directed by Arkansas native Jeff Nichols in 2012, featured real officers and patrol cars. It got all the details right, but that was an exception to the rule, Chapman said.

Most films don't bother trying to get the details right, she said. Watching the trailer for American Made, a film featuring Tom Cruise that is set for a September release, Chapman said she can't help but note that the Arkansas State Police officers are wearing the wrong belt and patch.

"It's like nurses watching Grey's Anatomy," she said. "I just can't do it."

Metro on 09/02/2017