As FX expands to 3 branded channels and develops more originals than ever to fill their schedules, it was perhaps fitting that FX Nets booked more time at TCA—nearly a full day—than any other cable network group at the tour. Also fitting was that FX Networks/FX Productions CEO John Landgraf began the session by rattling off the nets’ busy schedules coming months—what with 6 comedy pilots in development, not to mention high-profile projects like Guillermo Del Toro’s horror drama “The Strain” that begins production in Toronto next month and international thriller “Tyrant,” which starts shooting “soon” in Morocco.
Meanwhile, comedy series “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” which has built a nice following on FX with its weekly dissection of social issues and is moving to a daily show on younger-skewing FXX launching Sept 4, has already tripled its production staff and hired 3 new writers to handle the new workload. “Monday I put my head to the ground and just try to crank out the best show possible,” said Bell at a later session, noting that he didn’t know how to do a weekly show a year ago and will just have to learn how to do a daily one now. As for FXX, Landgraf promised a “do-it-yourself feel” and said “we’ve got work to do, but I think we’re starting with at least a foothold.”
Landgraf said FX won’t create 3 separate brands as AMC Networks has done with AMC, IFC and WE tv. Instead, he prefers to extend 1 brand to different demos, with FX remaining the broadest net at a 18-59 age target and FXX and FX Movies skewing 18-34 and 25-59, respectively. He also noted that FX Nets has licensed some 2/3 of all blockbuster movies, amounting to 45 titles to spread among the networks. “We’re bullish about the future of our brand,” he said. “We have the determination and patience to make this a success.”
As for shows, FX highlighted a mix of new and seasoned fare, including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which just got renewed for a 10th season that will match co-star Danny DeVito’s 114-ep run on iconic series “Taxi.” DeVito called Sunny a “high point of my career.” Meanwhile, critics scrounged for any crumbs about the upcoming season of “American Horror Story: Coven,” which will track witches to voodoo-tinged New Orleans. Exec producer Tim Minear said the show will include time jumps and flashbacks, and star Jessica Lange noted that she will indeed play a witch (fellow AHSer Sarah Paulson will play her daughter). And yes, they’ll be shooting in New Orleans next month. That’s Aug. In New Orleans. Yikes. Despite the humidity, Minear said “the fun quotient is higher this year” on the show, with more humor; he also noted the many female leads. “This is going to be most friendly place for women on television this year,” he said.
FX also gave critics another taste of “The League,” with co-showrunner Jackie Marcus Schaffer noting that the show about an obsessive fantasy sports league has little trouble finding pro sports figures to make cameos. “It’s a completely different thing than the first season when we were chasing them,” she said.
Otherwise, “Sons of Anarchy” remains FX’s biggest hit, so the net brought out the main cast, as well as showrunner Kurt Sutter and his wife (and star) Katey Sagal, who plays Gemma on the show. Sutter acknowledged that the series includes “a lot of blood and guts” but said he tries to show the consequences of violence. “Violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” he said. “If you do A, ultimately B is going to happen.” Sutter said he has a loose idea of how the show will end but “I tend to have a loose grip” on exactly how it will play out.
Another dark FX crime thriller is “The Bridge” about the Mexican-American border and starring Diane Kruger as an investigator afflicted with Asperger Syndrome. She told critics that cable has become the go-to place for good scripts and meaty roles for women. “You’d be hard pressed to find an actress in this town who wouldn’t want to be on cable television,” she said. One tidbit: exec producer Elwood Reid said the show “will solve the crime and put it away way before the end of the season.” Take that “Broadchurch” and “The Killing”…

(Michael Grebb is executive editor of CableFAX. You can follow him on Twitter at @michaelgrebb).

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