Consumer’s ferocious viewing appetite and The Netflix Model were some of the prime weighty topics at Produced By‘s “Take It From the Top: 10 Questions for the Cable Bosses” panel Saturday featuring Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, FX Network CEO John Landgraf, president of Showtime networks David Nevins and SundanceTV president and GM Sarah Barnett. Despite the impact that Netflix has had on consumers’ viewing habits, the group concurred that premium cable still has the edge and provides the pivotal role as a curator to viewers. Exclaimed Albrecht, “If you took the premium channels, we have much better product than Netflix and we have more movies and earlier windows.” Albrecht also pointed out how premium “was at the forefront of technological advances” with such view-where-you-go apps as HBO GO. If premium cable is going to outlast Netflix, the trick lies in getting cable and satellite distributors to offer up such services at a suitable price point for the customer. “The consumer is increasingly becoming the buyer of such distribution equipment, and they’re going to feel entitled about what they want, when they want,” said Albrecht. Read More »
This morning’s confirmation that Kevin Reilly was stepping down as Chairman of Entertainment at Fox Broadcast Co. ends weeks of speculation he would exit in the wake of the March promotion of Rupert Murdoch’s son, James to co-COO at 21st Century Fox, giving him oversight of, among other properties, the Fox broadcast network. When the dust settled back then, Fox Networks Group chief Peter Rice, to whom Reilly reported, would now report to James Murdoch instead of president/COO Chase Carey.
Related: Kevin Reilly Steps Down As Fox Entertainment Chairman
“He had to make a move,” one industry exec speculated, of Rice in the wake of the March shuffle.
Related: Departing Fox Boss Kevin Reilly Urges “Don’t Go Back To Pilot Season” In Memo
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At FX‘s upfront presentation last spring, Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell was a central piece as the late-night show was envisioned as a potential cornerstone for the new comedy-centric network FXX. But, facing stiff competition from broadcast and cable, the Chris Rock-produced show didn’t transition well to the new network after its solid original run on FX, leading to its cancellation. That followed the demise of FX’s other late-night effort, Brand X With Russell Brand. At FX’s upfront presentation last week, there was no mention of late-night. Instead, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said announced that FX and FXX will be doubling their primetime original output from 11 to 20 series during the next year. That involves the relocation of resources to primetime as the network is retreating from late-night, at least for the foreseeable future. “There is less interest in late-night, and that is in part driven by the excellence in the arena,” Landgraf said last week, noting the success with young viewers of such cable hosts as Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and the recent shifts on the broadcast networks, including NBC’s highly rated new tandem of Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, along with Jimmy Kimmel on ABC, soon to be joined by Colbert on CBS. “The late-night race is very competitive to get into,” Landgraf said. “You have to be willing to stay there as a very long investment.” Read More »
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf today threw his hat in the debate over what constitutes a drama series and a miniseries for Emmy consideration and whether an hourlong series can enter as a comedy, challenging the TV Academy to stiffen its criteria and create stricter category guidelines.
FX anthology series American Horror Story shook up the Emmy landscape three years ago when it opted to submit itself as a miniseries, not a drama series. The race was jolted again this year when HBO’s True Detective took the opposite stance, identifying itself as a drama series. “In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Deadline last week.
Landgraf today defended the network’s decision to submit AHS as a miniseries, objected to HBO’s decision to have True Detective compete as drama series, and called on the TV Academy to better define its categories. “I don’t think it’s cynical to enter AHS as a miniseries,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. The definition should be a miniseries has a story that ends, a series has a story that continues on.” Landgraf argued that limited series have the advantage to attract bigger-caliber actors, like True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as well as Billy Bob Thornton who toplines FX’s limited series Fargo. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category. That is patently unfair to people like (The Americans’) Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.” Right now, TV Academy defines shows like AHS and True Detective as having “dual eligibility,” with the series producers left to decide in which of the two categories they are eligible for they would compete.
Related: FX & FXX To Double Original Output, ‘Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With A Bang, ‘Americans’ Nears Season 3 Renewal
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Lost ad revenue is the biggest threat to the cable industry, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told TV critics this morning. Sons Of Anarchy, he noted, averaged more than 5 million demo viewers in Live +7, but only 2 million who watched live and only 3 million who watched the ads. “We need to find new opportunities to mitigate those losses,” he warned. FXNow, an ad-supported on demand service offering FX Networks’ programming, “will allow us to begin rebuilding our advertising business,” Landgraf said.
Also critical: stacking rights, he said. Loosely translated: the rights to make available to viewers all current-season episodes of a series on VOD or authenticated streaming. Those stacking rights are “absolutely vital” he said. “People have been talking about the promise of TV Everywhere for a long time now… It’s been a jerky-jerky process but I’m confident that the industry has achieved the key breakthrough. I think a year or two from now people will really have access to a lot of content.” He noted “ownership of content has bailed us out,” in an evolving advertising universe, acknowleding “It’s a nice thing to have long-tail revenue that undergirds a more volatile thing like advertising sales.”
Landgraf thinks the next season of American Horror Story probably will be another period piece and most of the Coven cast will be back. “Ultimately I’m waiting for Ryan [Murphy] to tell me” what’s going to happen. Other than that, he’s not sure what the next season of one of his most important franchises has in store. Read More »
Once upon a time, the entire TV industry took the afternoon off to attend the Hollywood Radio and TV Society season-kickoff lunch and watch their bosses admit which competitor’s show they most wished they had on their schedule and answer other similarly adorable questions. It was a simpler time. These days, the mood onstage is much darker. One exec makes some all-flesh-is-as-grass observation about the state of the industry; another agrees there is a resemblance. And then, there’s the traffic. In case you missed it, here are the quotes to note from today’s lunch:
*Good time to be a comedy producer: “There are 168 dramas in production. Anybody who knows how to run a [drama] show is employed. There isn’t anybody left in development. … It’s fully cooked.” — FX Networks CEO John Landgraf
*Netflix: “I didn’t know there was an option for not reporting ratings.” — HBO programming president Michael Lombardo
*Why NBC is dumping Jay Leno: “Jay is going out on top, and we think that’s the right thing to do.” — NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert
*Anti-hero dramas are so over: “A show can’t just rest on an anti-hero premise anymore. … A pitch that’s ‘this guy is the most fucked-up guy’ is not good enough.” — Lombardo
*Kevin Spacey should shove a sock in it: “[House Of Cards] had a star and a director and scripts for the first two episodes, and they had a show that they were basing it on. … I understand why artists don’t want to audition with a plot…[but, unless you're "House of Cards," minus a pilot] good shows could be prevented from being great shows — Lombardo Read More »
FX is turning up the heat as Emmy voting kicks into high gear with a large campaign war chest designed to show off their prime contenders American Horror Story, which leads all shows with a whopping 17 nominations in the movie/miniseries categories, and Louie which nabbed 6 nods including Best Comedy Series. Last Friday FX and Fox TV threw a summer barbeque and cast and crew conversation on the Fox lot for American Horror Story Asylum, and last night FX rented out the TV Academy’s Goldenson Theatre for a screening of Louie and a rollicking on-stage conversation with Louis C.K. and moderator, comedian David Steinberg. The place was packed to the rafters, presumably with Emmy voters though in this phase of voting members sign up for specific panels and at-home viewing, so exactly how many of the 600 or so who crowded into the theatre can actually help the Emmy chances of Louie is questionable.
None of that seems to matter to FX President John Landgraf who told me at the lavish post-reception the hefty outlay of funds for billboards, trade and newspaper ads and events like this is worth it, not only because they might be hitting some of those relatively few mystery voters (he estimates there could be about 1000-plus who vote for Best Comedy Series) but also to make a public and industry statement that FX is indeed a major player now in the Emmys and proud of their shows. Certainly AHS which also nabbed 17 nominations last year too and Louie would seem to confirm that. Incidentally FXX, the brand new spinoff network is the broadcast partner for the Academy’s Creative Arts Primetime Emmy show this year and Landgraf is glad they landed it. Read More »
With The Shield, FX was one of the first networks to introduce the proverbial anti-hero that has taken over cable drama in the past decade. Asked today how much darker cable dramas can go, FX CEO John Landgraf, giving a nod to David Chase for starting the trend with The Sopranos, said, “I can’t imagine a protagonist darker than (Breaking Bad‘s) Walter White. That’s the end of the road for out-darking each other — this nuclear arms race of darkness has ended.”
Related: TCA: Billy Bob Thornton Cast In FX’s ‘Fargo’
Landgraf confirmed what Guillermo del Toro said when FX greenlighted a pilot for The Strain — that the project will have a limited run spanning three to five seasons. The Strain series, based on del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire novel trilogy, will produce “39-65 episodes, no less, no more,” Landgraf said, adding “What if a television show could be just the length that is optimal for that story?” The Strain‘s order is technically for a pilot but has a writing staff that has completed five scripts already, and a series pickup is considered a formality. Also pretty certain — a second season renewal for freshman drama The Bridge, with Landgraf touting ist story trajectory.
Landgraf also further discussed the plans for the FX brand expansion with the upcoming launch of FXX and rebranding of FXM. Read More »
FX won’t be ordering more episodes of Brand X With Russell Brand, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said at a press conference today. The network will stay in business with the actor, picking up a scripted live-action comedy pilot starring Brand, which will be based loosely on his life in the vein of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. A search is underway for a writer. In the end, “W. Kamau Bell and (executive producer) Chris Rock were more ready to convert to a daily show,” Landgraf said. Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, which just logged a series high, will switch to a nightly format when it moves to FXX in September. ”We saw more potential and upside in audience’s reaction.” Brand X started off as a taped weekly show and moved to a live production for the second batch of episodes. The series aired 26 episodes in total.
Related: FX Networks Executives Nick Grad, Eric Schrier & Chuck Saftler Get President Titles
FX Networks and FX Prods. President and General Manager John Landgraf has been promoted to CEO. I hear as part of the promotion, Landgraf has signed a new multi-year contract to remain at the helm of the two, soon to be three FX-branded networks as well as sibling FX Prods., which he launched. “John’s integrity, creativity and leadership have made FX a home for fearless writers, actors and directors,” said Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO, Fox Networks Group, to whom Landgraf will continue to report. “He has also formed a close-knit team of exceptional executives who are together enjoying an amazing run of creative and business success.” As CEO, Landgraf will have oversight over all aspects of entertainment and business operations for FX Networks, which is comprised of FX, FXM (formerly Fox Movie Channel), the soon-to-launch comedy focused FXX, as well as FX Prods. In addition to FX Networks and FXP, Landgraf will be responsible for FX Networks’ digital video-on-demand platform, FXNOW. Read More »
At its upfront presentation, FX brass confirmed the launch of a third FX-branded entertainment network, FXX, and an expansion of FXM (movie channel). FXX, expected to take over Fox Soccer Channel, will be available in 74 million homes and will launch September 2. The expansion across the three FX networks will be supported by a big increase in original programming. FX president John Landgraf projected that FX would double its original offerings to 25 original series within the next few years to achieve parity with ABC, NBC and CBS.
As part of the new FXX, the network today also renewed three FX comedy series — flagship It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The League and Legit — that will help launch FXX, along with late-night show Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, which will expand to five nights a week when it moves to the new network September 2. The plan for FXX is to start with four original comedy series and one late-night show; the fourth original comedy will likely come from one of FX’s half-hour pilots, FX president John Landgraf said. The new network’s original offerings will go up to six comedy series by the second year and to gradually introduce dramas.
Related: FX Orders Charlie Kaufman Comedy Pilot Read More »
FX‘s drama pipeline is busier than ever with four pilots in addition to the newly picked up cold war spy drama The Americans which premieres on Jan. 30. It will be joined by one more new drama series later this year. FX President John Landgraf hopes that would be The Bridge after seeing encouraging early footage from the pilot, which was just shot. The US-Mexico border drama starring Demian Bichir and Diane Kruger is one of three drama pilots FX has ordered since July, along with vampire drama The Strain, from Guillermo del Toro and Lost‘s Carlton Cuse, and Middle East drama Tyrant, from Homeland executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright. The last two were greenlighted to pilot off a pitch, something FX had not done before. Landgraf envisions The Strain and Tyrant as potential series for 2014. In anticipation of potential series orders, the network has ordered backup scripts from the projects, including putting small writing staffs together.
FX also is ramping up its comedy slate. With a key piece of its existing portfolio, Louie, on hiatus this year, FX is aiming at adding three new comedy series in 2013. Animation remains to be a priority, with the network looking to find a companion for Archer. The latest hopeful is recently ordered pilot Chosen, produced by Danny McBride. It comes after freshman toon … Read More »
Like every other network executive who has taken the stage at this TCA press tour, FX president John Landgraf this morning was asked about the possible link between onscreen violence and the rise of mass killings in America. “As an industry I think we should study (the issue) more, and if we find such correlation we should act on it,” Landgraf said. He drew a distinction between “third person entertainment” like films and TV, where viewers are passive observers of a third person(s) committing the violence, and “first person video games,” where the user acts as a killer. Landgraf said he likes third-person entertainment but doesn’t allow his sons to play violent video games at home.
Related: Chris Rock Says “You Should Need To Have A Mortgage To Buy A Gun”: TCA
He also drew attention to the availability of guns, especially semi-automatic, military-style weapons like those used in Aurora and Newtown, and listed statistics that gun homicides per 1,000 in the U.S. are 9 times higher than in the UK “We consume the same media — The Walking Dead is as popular there as it is here — they play the same video games, and the last time I checked James Bond kills a lot of people with a gun,” Landgraf said. “The major difference is the access to … Read More »
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is the only one of what FX president John Landgraf called the “four cornerstones” of FX (The Shield, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck and Sunny) that is still on the air. The comedy has already been renewed for a ninth season, and it will likely won’t be the last. “There is a high likelihood for a 10th season,” Landgraf said during the FX portion of TCA this morning. “Whether it goes beyond that depends on whether the people who created the show want to go and whether the audience still wants to watch. But there will definitely be one more year, probably two.”
Landgraf also shed light on FX’s scheduling plans for the back 90 episodes of Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management. “It will stay on the air with no interruption for two years, basically 45 episodes a year,” Landgraf said. That means that, save for major holidays and sports pre-emptions, there will be an original of Anger Management on Thursday night for two years, starting with the Season 2 premiere January 17. The biggest change made following the initial 10 episodes was the addition of Martin Sheen as Charlie Sheen’s father for a multi-generational dimension on the series. Read More »
(WARNING: STORY CONTAINS SPOILERS) The status of American Horror Story leads Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and the Golden Globe-nominated Jessica Lange remains in flux in the wake of the FX horror hour’s season one finale last night. But if Britton, McDermott, Lange or supporting player Frances Conroy return to the show for a second campaign, it will be as entirely different characters in a brand new storyline featuring a fully (or at least mostly) new cast. Co-creator and exec producer Ryan Murphy and FX president and GM John Landgraf laid out for reporters during a conference call this morning that Horror Story was packaged from the start as a seasonal anthology. “The (haunted) house is done,” Murphy stressed. “Every season of the show will be a different haunting. That’s always been the plan. Every season of the show will have a beginning, middle and end, and all new characters and setting.” But that doesn’t mean that this year’s performers won’t be back. It’s just that McDermott and Britton won’t be starring as Ben and Vivien Harmon, respectively, nor Lange as creepy neighbor Constance Langdon. It would have been tough to pull that off, anyway, since the Harmons all were dead by the time the season drew to a close.
“We’re still negotiating with a handful (of the cast members) about returning,” Murphy said. “We’re also meeting with new actors whom we’ve targeted roles for. I will say that Connie and Dylan will … Read More »
Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter should be in a better mood today then Friday, when he spewed venom at bloggers in a Twitter rant. Halfway through SOA‘s fourth season, FX this morning renewed Sutter’s hit biker drama for a fifth season with a 13-episode order. The series starring Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal is having its highest-rated season. It’s currently the No. 1 scripted drama series on basic cable and is the highest-rated series ever on FX with an averaged of 5.8 million total viewers and 3.9 million adults 18-49. That is up +30% and +26%, respectively, vs Season 3. The Season 4 premiere September 6 became the most-watched program in FX history with 6.5 total viewers. On a multi-telecast weekly basis, Season 4 is averaging 9 million total viewers and 6 million adults 18-49. “Everyone at FX is very grateful to Kurt Sutter, his many writing, directing and producing collaborators and his masterful cast for making such a compelling and beautifully crafted show,” FX president John Landgraf said. “It is no small challenge to bring the themes of a great, ancient play like Hamlet into a wholly original television setting and to tell this complex story in a way that is both riveting and accessible to a broad audience.” Sutter executive produces SOA with John Linson, Art Linson and Paris Barclay. FX Prods and Fox 21 … Read More »