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For Nick Grad, working in television is something
of a family affair. As FX’s executive VP of original programming,
Grad is responsible for all drama and comedy
series development for the network, but he has
been surrounded by the business his whole life. His
father was an executive at Twentieth Television and
his uncle is the famed sitcom director James Burrows;
Grad interned and worked as a production assistant
on Burrows’ Cheers.
His first job out of college was as an assistant at the fledgling Fox Broadcasting, when the network was only
on two nights a week. “It was a very exciting place to
be,” Grad says of his job there, in which all rough cuts
and scripts were delivered to him. “Even though I was
low man on the totem pole, I was the fulcrum for how
everything was distributed to FBC.”
After spending six years at Columbia Tri-Star, where
he managed the studio’s current programming for six
different networks, Grad now enjoys being a curator
of programming at FX. “One of the things that makes
this job great is my taste and gut and what I would
gravitate to as a viewer are so in sync with what the
brand is here,” he says.
Since becoming head of FX’s original programming
in 2005, Grad has developed numerous series, including
Justified, Louie and the critically acclaimed but canceled
The greatest challenge these days, he says, is finding
a program that will cut through an increasingly
crowded marketplace. “Sometimes you feel like you
have to light your hair on ! re just to get people to pay
attention to you,” he says. “The show has to be great,
good does not cut it.”
A great FX series is one that is surprising, visceral
and most importantly has a point of view. Grad sees
an opportunity for FX to make inroads particularly in
comedy with its brand of smart and funny, exemplified
by a show like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. “We
feel like there’s a lot of room to play with, we feel like
we’re just getting started on comedy,” he says.
At News Corp., Grad has had the bene! t of learning
from mentors like Peter Liguori, Kevin Reilly and John
Landgraf, but he doesn’t spend his time angling to get
to their level: “I’d rather be doing my job here, making
shows that I respect and think are great than running a
network somewhere else that’s not making programming
that I would be inspired by,” he says.
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