Four episodes into American Horror Story: Coven run, FX has picked up a fourth season of the horror franchise. Star Jessica Lange, who has been the center of the show since first cycle, is set to return as her current contract is through Season 4. She recently suggested publicly that she would likely depart after that. Because of the show’s format, featuring different stories and characters each season, it is unclear yet who else will come back but co-creator Ryan Murphy tends to find new characters for his core group of actors every year. “Put simply, Ryan Murphy is a master television producer,” FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said. “Every year, they create a riveting and brilliant new miniseries. AHS: Coven is the best yet, and I have no doubt that the next installment will be even better.” Four episodes in, Coven has far surpassed the ratings of both of its AHS predecessors, Murder House (2011) and Asylum (2012). Season-to date, AHS: Coven is averaging 7.74 million Total Viewers, 5.46 million Adults 18-49 and 3.14 million Adults 18-34. That is up +77% in Total Viewers, +67% in 18-49 and +60% in 18-34 over Murder House. Coven is outpacing Asylum by +83% in Total Viewers, +71% in 18-49, and +68% in 18-34. Remarkably, Coven, toplined by mature actress Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett, is easily on pace to set a record as the highest-rated adults 18-34 program in FX history. Episode 5 airs tonight.
AwardsLine Editor Christy Grosz, Managing Editor Anthony D’Alessandro and contributors Paul Brownfield and Thomas J. McLean assist with Deadline’s TV coverage.
Lead acting mini/movie nominee Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum) and supporting acting hopefuls Sarah Paulson (also for American Horror Story: Asylum) and Scott Bakula (Behind The Candelabra) share thoughts on their characters, shows and nominations.
AwardsLine: What attracted you to American Horror Story: Asylum?
Lange: I have to admit that the horror genre is not something I am a fan of. Really, what drew me to it was the description of the character and what I knew (creator Ryan Murphy) would write for me, what I would be given to play. So that, more than anything, was why I signed on for the first season. Then, along the way, we started talking about the story for the next season, which I found even more interesting, because of the overarching themes, which seemed more powerful to me, dealing with things that I love delving into—madness and a kind of failed life, retribution, redemption.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Get ready for the Michael Douglas awards parade. First up: The Primetime Emmys. To be sure, he’s the overwhelming favorite for this year’s movie/miniseries lead actor for his universally acclaimed performance as Liberace in Behind The Candelabra. He was so good that it overshadowed even the work of a superstar like Matt Damon in the same film (where he played the pianist’s young lover Scott Thorson). Al Pacino also is nominated for his portrayal of convicted murderer Phil Spector in the biopic of the same name, along with Benedict Cumberbatch for the mini Parade’s End and Toby Jones for the Alfred Hitchcock drama The Girl. Notably, all five nominees are honored for HBO projects. On the actress side, Jessica Lange is up for lead (instead of last year’s supporting) in FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum, which puts her in the unusual position of having the opportunity to win Emmys in back-to-back years for the same series in different categories. However, Lange’s foes for movie/mini lead actress have a combined 25 nominations and 7 wins to their credit. Two of them are chasing their first victories: Elisabeth Moss for Sundance Channel’s Top Of The Lake and Sigourney Weaver for the since-canceled USA Network mini Political Animals. Then there’s Laura Linney, also switching categories for Showtime’s The Big C: Hereafter; and Helen Mirren as lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden in Phil Spector.
TCA: Kathy Bates Tackles Serial Killer Socialite, Angela Bassett Plays Voodoo Priestess In ‘American Horror Story: Coven’
Kathy Bates will play Louisiana-born socialite and serial killer Marie Delphine LaLaurie in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Coven debuting in October. Bates’ character was a big wheel in New Orleans until a fire broke out in her house in 1834 and people responding to help discovered bound and tortured slaves inside. Angela Bassett, meanwhile, will play Marie Laveau, a Louisiana Creole and Voodoo priestess who also lived in New Orleans in the 19th century. Jessica Lange will play a witch named Fiona, and Sarah Paulson will play her daughter, Cordelia. And no, it’s no coincidence Paulson’s character has the same name as King Lear’s good daughter — the one who winds up dead after Dad goes mad, AHS exec producer Tim Minear told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 this afternoon. Minear appeared onstage with Lange, Paulson, Bates and Bassett, and noted this is just part of the Coven cast, which he described as a “murders’ row of actresses.” Other names reportedly signed on for the coming season include Patti LuPone, Francis Conroy, Gabourney Sidibe, and Lily Rabe.
UPDATED: American Horror Story co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy lifted the veil a bit on the upcoming third installment of the FX horror series. At a …
FX has picked up a third installment of its horror anthology franchise American Horror Story with a 13-episode order. Production of the untitled new cycle of AHS will begin next summer and premiere in the fall of 2013. FX and AHS creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s are keeping mum on details about the next incarnation but announced that, like was the case with American Horror Story and American Horror Story: Asylum, many of the actors will return in different roles next year, including star Jessica Lange.
Matt Webb Mitovich is Editor-At-Large at TV Line.
Constance Langdon is not a neighbor you want to borrow a cup of sugar from, and you most definitely should beware when she comes bearing home-baked gifts (or, for that matter, “sweet breads”). And yet as portrayed by Jessica Lange, who came into American Horror Story with two Oscars and an Emmy on her mantel, the Harmon family’s oft unwelcome visitor did not repel, she but regaled us. Thus far, Lange has netted a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe for her first venture into series television — might another Emmy make her housewarming complete?
AWARDSLINE: When you first started seeing the American Horror Story scripts, did you suspect the role of Constance could be Emmy-worthy?
LANGE: I didn’t really know what to think. We were shooting really fast, so I don’t think anybody was thinking about the outcome as much as the process of getting through it. This was the first time I’d ever done this kind of television — a miniseries — and not being all that familiar with the world of TV, I didn’t have any frame of reference. So when the performances started getting recognition, yes, it did kind of surprise me. I mean, I knew how good the writing was, and I knew there was a great deal that I could do with it — it’s a big character with a huge range of emotions.
RELATED: EMMYS: Movie/Miniseries Overview
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
During a panel for his new thriller drama series for FX, American Horror Story, Murphy confessed a dark family secret that may have led to his fascination with horror: “My grandmother would force me, even when I was sobbing and screaming, to watch Dark Shadows,” he said. “And then when I was bad, I had to watch The Waltons.”
Murphy and fellow American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuck said that the present cast and characters would not necessarily only be around for the first 13 episodes as has been speculated. And they assured their audience that many of the questions raised in the pilot episode would be answered fairly quickly in the second and third episodes. “(We have) a pilot that I believe has like eight cliffhangers,” Murphy said. “We had an obligation to the audience in the next two scripts to explain a lot of those things that are set up.” One of those things, he said, will be why the characters stay in the very scary 1920s California house — a phenomenon that has been spoofed a lot, why people in haunted houses in horror films and TV shows just don’t get the heck out of there. Murphy said that very important question would be answered in the third episode. As for questions about the recent controversy over the fate of some of the stars from his other series — Fox’s Glee — Murphy declined to answer those. “I’m not talking about Glee,” he said after the panel. “I’ve said everything I wanted to say about that” (See Emmy Q&A: Ryan Murphy About ‘Glee’ and ‘Glee’s Ryan Murphy Talks For First Time About Spinoff & Firings Missteps.)
EXCLUSIVE: In a major casting coup for their FX drama pilot American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have tapped Jessica Lange to star in a lead role opposite Connie Britton. This marks the first foray into TV series for the two-time Oscar winner.
The premise of American Horror Story is under wraps, but a breakdown for the pilot listed two main characters: Ben Harmon, a sensitive therapist, and Vivien Harmon (Britton), his gorgeous wife who is a force to be reckoned with. Lange will play their nosy neighbor. Murphy and Falchuk are now rewriting the script to expand the role for Lange, turning it into a full-fledged third lead. In the pilot, Lange also joins Denis O’Hare, who plays Larry the burn guy, while the role of Ben is yet to be cast.
Director Rodrigo Cortes has found his followup to Buried, attaching Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver to star in the psychological thriller Red Lights. Cortes wrote the script. I saw Buried at its premiere screening and thought Ryan Reynolds and Cortes pulled off quite a feat, but the film unfortunately seems …