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TCA: Landgraf Says FX Focusing on Programming Expansion

FX President and General Manager John Landgraf kicked off the network's portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Tuesday, noting the network's plan to continue growing its original programming, with a particular focus on comedy.

Landgraf views FX's programming success as independently quantified, based on both critical acclaim and the extent to which shows are embraced by viewers.

"We're aiming for two separate but distinct targets, and are trying to hit both at the same time," Landgraf said. He added that FX is "ahead of schedule" with its goals for comedy expansion, but still far from where it wants to be.

"We haven't reduced drama programming...but I see us with six or seven or eight comedies," he said. "My suspicion is that a dozen [original series] will be the maximum that we will get to, but it will take a few more years for us to reach full size."

He is ultimately confident in a recipe of strong writing and risk-taking to hit FX's programming goal, noting the programming precedent the network set when it ventured to premiere a series midseason:

"FX was really influential. We made the almost preposterous decision to premiere our biggest hit, Nip/Tuck, and premiere it midseason in the fall. It grew in ratings from season two to three. It's proof of concept--that if you have the right show, it can succeed," he said. "That was a bold move, we succeeded with it, and you saw other cable channels following us into the breach."

With several new series set to launch, including dramas Terriers and Lights Out, Landgraf explained that patience may be the simple solution to seeing success in FX's programming expansion: "It's like a snake digesting a goat, for a small cable channel to launch six shows."

Landgraf also confirmed that Damages--the only series to earn an Emmy nod for the network this year--will be airing solely on DirecTV, which rescued the series from cancelation last month.

"The third season is the last that will air on FX," said Landgraf. "DirecTV felt very strongly that they were able to underwrite financially. This was really the best and only way for Damages to move forward."

Landgraf was admittedly perplexed at FX's dearth in Emmy nods, but speculates it may be a result of the network's unorthodox approach to programming.

"The Emmys live in their own separate universe. Justified, Sons of Anarchy [and other programs] are all universally acclaimed," Landgraf said. "I think we do have a tendency as a brand. Damages is an exception to this. It features well-coiffed women and men in Manhattan. We have tendency to want to do the literature of the common woman and the common man. It's literature and it's entertainment. Does that affect the Emmys? I don't know. We've had success in the past, but this year not so much."

In addition, Landgraf announced that freshman series Louie will be picked up for a second season with an order of 13 episodes. FX will also launch a new comedy from the creators of Reno 911! entitled USS Alabama. The pilot is set to begin production in September.

"It takes place in space on the USS Alabama, with a crew of space farers who might not be too much brighter than the cops in Reno 911!," expained Landgraf.