Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

The third season of the FX anthology hit American Horror Story will be about witches and be titled American Horror Story: Coven. The revelation came tonight during a panel in Beverly Hills that closed out the PaleyFest 2013 festival. Of the forthcoming season, co-creator and exec producer Ryan Murphy said, “It’s a really cool story we’ve been talking about for a couple of years, and this seemed the year to do it.” He also disclosed that AHS will be shooting in multiple locations for Season 3 when it resumes production this summer, including New Orleans, after having been anchored to the soundstage during its first two seasons. “We have another couple of doozy locales planned,” Murphy said of scouting out haunted places in which to film for Season 3. He also hinted he may be getting over his aversion to producing a vampire show, and that along those lines he’s had preliminary conversations with FX Networks chief John Landgraf about “a companion piece” to American Horror Story that could conceivably be vampire-based. “It would be really cool to do a couple of different incarnations of the (American Horror Story) idea,” Murphy added, “but I can’t talk too much about it.” The show’s second season, American Horror Story: Asylum, was a formidable demo force in the Wednesday 10 PM time period for FX. It wrapped on January 23.

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The inking of Oscar winner Kathy Bates — who recently underwent a double mastectomy as she battles cancer — for Horror Story‘s 13-episode third season was leaked late last month. And the latest cast regular was introduced as a surprise guest toward the conclusion of tonight’s lively discussion. Entering to a standing ovation, Bates will be portraying the former best friend-turned-enemy of Jessica Lange’s character. Murphy, reminding everyone, “You know I love a good Oscar winner,” admitted that he “always wanted to see a lot of scenes with Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange going at it, so that’s what you’ll see.” An ebullient Bates said that she’s loved the series “from the very beginning” and during a meeting with Lange had implored her to lobby Murphy on her behalf. “I said, ‘Tell him I’ll do anything’,” Bates, who won her Oscar for Misery, recalled. “Then little did I know it would all come about. It’s a miracle.” Murphy offered that it wasn’t a tough sell, having “loved Kathy Bates from the first time I saw her on stage… I pitched her this cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs character and said, ‘Call me or email me.’ An hour later my phone rang and she said, ‘I’m in’.” Lange’s character for the third season was described tonight as “a glamour cat,” which seemed to be news even to Lange. “I don’t know what a glamour cat is,” she said, “but I’m excited.” That’s as far as anyone would go in sharing details about what lay ahead for American Horror Story’s third campaign, scheduled to hit the air next fall. Besides Murphy, Lange and Bates, the panel also included exec producers Brad Falchuk, Dante Di Loreto and Tim Minear along with returning Season 3 cast members Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Frances Conroy, and Naomi Grossman from Season 2wo, still unsigned for Season 3.

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