FROM John Landgraf
FX CEO John Landgraf When John Landgraf came to FX in 2004, he was overseeing only one channel and it had only two original series -- The Shield and Nip/Tuck. Now, Landgraf runs three channels -- FX, FXX and FXM. Among them, that's twenty original shows. A big part of that expansion came when Landgraf created FX productions -- which put the network on the comedy map with shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Louie. FX has also co-produced acclaimed dramas like Sons of Anarchy, Justified and Fargo. At this summer's Television Critics Association gathering, one of the most talked-about events was not one of the many presentations on new shows. Instead, Landgraf grabbed attention with his declaration that we've reached "peak TV," and that there is simply too much television. Not only could he not keep track of all the new scripted shows, he couldn't even get a handle on all the programmers cranking those series out. According to Landgraf, the herd must thin. Clearly his talk touched a nerve. "Peak TV" became the buzz phrase of the summer in the TV business. Some critics agreed with Landgraf; some said Landgraf was merely disappointed that FX shows like The Strain and The Comedians had not performed better. A number of television executives said they agreed that there may be too much good TV, but said there's never enough great TV. When Landgraf joined us in the studio, he stood by his earlier statements. With so much choice, Landgraf said, we're losing a kind of common social ground. He acknowledges that television in an industry in transition, and the coming years will have to bring change, both in terms of the number of new shows created, and how those shows are then stored, accessed, measured and advertised. Landgraf also challenges the utopian myth that places like Netflix and Amazon are always the ideal place to make a show. We've had guests on The Business who have series on those streaming services and every time, there's been the same chorus from those showrunners: if you make a show at a traditional cable or broadcast network, you get bombarded with notes. At Amazon or Netflix, you get total creative freedom. But Landgraf says his impression from talking to showrunners is that the experience at Amazon and Netflix is not quite that perfect. Sometimes you need notes. Or even if you don't need notes, you at least need attention, which is what Landgraf thinks might be lacking at these streaming services.
John Landgraf; Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton The origin story of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a lesson in chuztpah and initiative. Three friends and aspiring actors -- Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day -- made a pilot as a short film for themselves. But what began simply, quickly developed into something more significant. They shopped it around town as a potential TV show and got a lot of bites. FX President John Landgraf talks about how the pilot came out of nowhere from three guys with no experience but how he was taken with it immediately. McElehenney and Howerton tell The Business producer Darby Maloney about those early days, what motivated them, and how they had the confidence to insist that they be the producers and show-runner despite having absolutely no experience producing TV. They talk about how they welcomed Danny DeVito in the second season. And even though the series is in its eighth season with plans for two more and has been sold into syndication on Comedy Central, it still doesn't feel like a huge success to them... partially because they get no Awards love.
FX President John Landgraf on Louis CK and Charlie Sheen President of FX, John Landgraf talks with Kim Masters about the unusually hands-off deal he made with comedian Louis CK for his show, Louie . Essentially FX wires him money and he sends them a show. There's virtually no oversight or input from the network. It's a deal that many in the industry envy but something that Landgraf says that not every creator could handle. Landgraf is no stranger to placing bets on shows, and a new show that he's hoping will pay off is Anger Management , starring Charlie Sheen . Landgraf tells Kim that he was prepared to pass on the show but was taken in by the pitch. He also outlines the deal points, which include an unusual arrangement where if the first season of ten episodes gets a certain ratings number then the show will be automatically renewed for 90 episodes. Finally, with hits like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy and Justified, FX skews towards a guy audience. Landgraf talks with Kim about this and also about why he passed on Breaking Bad.
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Previewing James Comey's blockbuster testimony Former FBI director James Comey testifies Thursday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but his opening statement has been released. In it, he says he felt pressured by Donald Trump to declare loyalty to him and publicly clear him of any wrongdoing in the Russia investigation.