Press Tour: July 2014 FX Executive Session Live-Blog

07.21.14 3 years ago 8 Comments

FX

Thanks to “Fargo” and “American Horror Story: Coven,” FX had a huge Emmy nomination haul two weeks ago. 

And with “Fargo” leading the way, the network still has some of the best reviewed shows on TV.

However, “Tyrant” and “The Strain” both drew mixed reviews, as did the comedies “Married” and “You Are The Worst.”

FXX is still struggling to find an identity as it awaits a massive influx of “Simpsons” repeats.

And just last week, FX announced that it would no longer be providing L+SD ratings for reporters, preferring the fuller picture of Live+3 and Live+7 numbers.

So let's just say that FX President John Landgraf will have plenty to talk about on Monday (July 21) morning at the Television Critics Association press tour…

Click through and follow along…

9:19 a.m. We were delayed a bit by a couple embargoed released for announcements that are coming in the next five minutes. Trust me… You'll be happy!

9:20 a.m. Fine. Folks broke the embargo: “Louie” is returning! But only for seven episodes! And “Fargo” will be back! Yay!

9:23 a.m. The FXNow ap is available to 60 percent of viewers. AppleTV, Roku and ChromeCast will all get platforms in the next year. 

9:23 a.m. The FXX “Simpsons” site will be called SimpsonsWorld, apparently. It'll be on FXNow as well. Landgraf is pleased with how FXX is doing. They have 552 “Simpsons” episode and Landgraf predicts it'll be “transformative” for FXX and FXNow. 

9:25 a.m. “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” will return in January. Tracy Morgan's new show was supposed to premiere then as well, but it's obviously being held for whenever Morgan is ready to return.

9:27 a.m. Landgraf is pleased with the “Archer” Emmy nod. “We really love what Graham Yost did with 'Justified' this past year,” Landgraf says, praising the show for setting up the final season. He salutes “Louie” as “groundbreaking” and calls “The Americans” “remarkably taut” and praises it for raising its game. There's much praise for “Fargo.”

9:28 a.m. On to the summer. Landgraf salutes Elwood Reid for reshaping “The Bridge” for its second season, comparing the new structure to “The Wire.” “We're really happy and encouraged by the creative direction of 'Tyrant,'” Landgraf says, praising the ratings consistency. They don't have a renewal decision for “Tyrant,” but they're feeling positive. The “Tyrant” cast and crew have been moved to Turkey amidst the tumult in Israel. Landgraf says that “The Strain” is off to a “fantastic” start, calling it the top cable premiere of the year in the 18-49 demo and expects it'll be the biggest overall premiere in FX history when the numbers shake out. FX is “bullish” on “You're the Worst” and “Married.” “We expect to be pleased with their performance when we get the numbers on Wednesday,” he predicts.

9:32 a.m. Fall includes “Sons of Anarchy” and “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” “Justified,” “The Americans” and “Archer” are up up in January. Kurt Sutter's “The Bastard Executioner” will be shot in England next year and set in the 1300s.

9:33 a.m. FX is trying to be ahead of the curve on cable comedy, predicting that more and more cable networks will attempt to get into that marketplace. 

9:34 a.m. Landgraf praises Ryan Murphy for creating “the anthological miniseries” and says that's what Noah Hawley will be doing as well. Oooh! We had a TBD panel later in the day and that panel is a “Fargo” panel. 

9:36 a.m. The first question is about “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” How would Landgraf characterize the season? “It's really different every year,” Landgraf says. He notes that Murphy lives to create worlds. “He's really very detail-oriented,” he says. “Freak Show” is set in the '50s and will have a different look. “The characters are really distinctive, really original, some of them very strange,” he says. He puts “Freak Show” half-way between “Asylum” and “Coven,” saying it has more humor and camp than “Asylum,” but it has a brooding period feel. Landgraf admits that he often doesn't grasp the tone of a Ryan Murphy script until he sees the execution. 

9:38 a.m. Will “Fargo” have a new cast? Yes. “It's kinda heartbreaking from my standpoint,” he admits of losing the cast. “AHS” was Ryan Murphy wanting to do a Mercury Theater-style ensemble. “'Fargo' requires a different level of realism,” Landgraf says, so they'll be creating “a new situation.”

9:39 a.m. FX banks on talent.  That's their brand or approach. He says that viewers want to be wowed and surprised now. He wants “creative chutzpah.” “We'd rather fail spectacularly and nobly than succeed in a quiet, middling way,” Landgraf says. Nice.

9:40 a.m. Is Landgraf surprised at how much interest there was in vampires and “The Strain”? Landgraf spends a lot of time reading and “really trying to get my finger on what's happening.” He has lamented in the past that he missed out on “Walking Dead” and zombie-mania. He worried about horror and its ability to sustain characters over time. “It turns out with 'American Horror Story' that it's a one-year challenge,” he says, but notes that “Walking Dead” has done it over four seasons. Landgraf talks about Guillermo del Toro's Bleak House, his personal museum. “He truly loves and lives this genre,” Landgraf says. He admits that there have been “way too many vampire shows,” but says that they've revolved around romantic and erotic vampires. 

9:44 a.m. Do they know yet where “Fargo” will shoot? They don't know for sure, but they'd like to shoot in the same place, Calgary. 

9:45 a.m. It's important to FX to do both comedies and dramas. Comedy big swings are worth it. “There are two grand traditions of ways of looking at the world,” he says of drama and, of course, comedy. They also always wanted to emulate HBO, which has always been involved in both comedy and drama. Landgraf says that it's hard to find distinctive ideas in this marketplace and that the network saw a tsunami of cable dramas coming, but they were hearing “incredible” pitches for comedies. He praises “Louie” for “really pushing the boundaries of comedy.” He thinks the audience will find good shows, whether they be comedy or drama.

9:48 a.m. Is there ever a danger of giving too much leeway to creators? “I just know how difficult it is and how much courage it actually to takes to put yourself out there in the way creative artists do,” Landgraf says. “It's much easier to do what we know works or what we think we know works,” he adds. Showrunners want to be liked, he claims. Familiarity and the desire for familiarity dulls the creative edge. From the production side, he remembers doing “Reno 911” and taking creative risks on that. “It really makes a difference when the creative people feel the organization is genuinely behind them,” he says. FX doesn't want to be safe. “Our contribution is to be pioneers,” he says. FX wants to push it, even if it isn't always comfortable.

9:51 a.m. Does Landgraf regret what happened with the Kamau Bell show in the transition to FXX? He doesn't think the show would still be on if it had stayed on FX. “He built a show around point-of-view, around everybody's point-of-view,” Landgraf says. “He basically was speaking in the language of the younger generation of viewers.” He didn't think the show was quite good enough, though he thinks it was brilliant at times. The format requires consistency and this was a learning experience. “I predict he'll be back,” Landgraf says. “We bet on very young, very talented guy early in the curve and we didn't make a show that was really good enough to rise up to the highest level of what's being done in that form,” Landgraf explains. He reminds us of the trial and error Jon Stewart went through.

9:53 a.m. Another FXX question. Landgraf thinks eventually they'll do hour-longs on FXX. “It's gonna take a while for the two brands to shake out,” he promises. He refers to “Archer” as a show that would work on FXX. People are still finding the channel. He views “The Simpsons” as “something of real gravitational force.” Next year will be “Sunny,” “Ali G” and “The League,” as well as the Jay Baruchel comedy and, hopefully, the Tracy Morgan show. He thinks that FXX has been moved to a better channel placement in some markets. He predicts that in a year or two, the shows on FX will belong on FX and the shows on FXX will belong there.

9:56 a.m. Are snow and cold essential for “Fargo”? And is there pressure to deliver at least one A-list talent after Billy Bob and Martin Freeman? He's leaving the first question for Noah Hawley later in the day. Stay tuned. Landgraf praises Billy Bob's imprimatur in terms of both status and connection to the Coen Brothers. “I don't think, actually, that we need him,” Landgraf says. He thinks that “True Detective” has to prove that it's more than just a vehicle for movie stars, but that Noah has proven himself in a different way. “I don't think we need somebody next year,” Landgraf says of landing a movie star for next year. He thought Allison Tolman brought as much to the show as Billy Bob and Martin.

That's all, folks…

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