K'naan performs in Minneapolis/Star Tribune photo
LOS ANGELES -- The Twin Cities will have to wait a little bit longer to see if it will be admitted into the HBO empire.
The pilot for "Mogadishu, Minnesota" was shot in Minneapolis this past fall, but director/creator K'naan is still hunkered down in the editing room.
Casey Bloys, HBO's president of original programming, was one of about five network executives to see a "work in progress" and gave the Canadian-Somali rapper some notes.
"He's now going through the process of figuring out what he wants to focus on and what makes sense to him," Bloys said. "At a certain point, he's going to come back to us and tell us where he'd like to go. That's when we'll have a conversation on whether or not to move forward."
Bloys expects to an updated cut from K'naan, also known as Keinan Warsame, in a couple weeks. If HBO decides not to give the series a regular spot in its lineup, the project is unlikely to be presented as a stand-alone movie. If it's a yes, the earliest the show could make it to air would be 2018. Bloys said it's also too early to say whether a greenlit "Mogadishu" would continue to shoot in Minnesota or relocate to Canada.
The principal shoot drew ire from some in the Twin Cities community concerned that the show would present unfair stereotypes and further paranoia that a significant number of Muslims in America are hatching terrorism plots.
Bloys confirmed that a terrorism seed does play a role in the first hour, but that it's just a small part of the storyline.
"It's more about how much do you assimilate yourself in becoming an American and how much do you hold on to your parents' culture," he said.
Based on what he's seen, Bloys seemed impressed by the use of location.
"The thing you want is a sense of place," he said. "Not knowing Minneapolis very well or the Somali community, I bought into it as feeling authentic."
He also had positive words to say about the pilot's content.
"Whether you're a Somali or a Mexican or whatever, the immigrant experience affects everybody," he said. "It's interesting what he's done. He's hit on something that's large, but made it specific. That's what you want in a pilot."
A major TV series filming in Minnesota would pump millions of dollars into the local economy and could draw other high-profile productions to the area.