Press Tour '12 Live-Blog: FX Executive session with John Landgraf
Expect lots and lots of Charlie Sheen questions. And maybe some 'Powers' stuff
8:30 a.m. Russell Brand's new late night show will be called "Strangely Uplifting."
8:31 a.m. And John Landgraf is growing a beard. I approve. But you knew I would.
8:32 a.m. "Louie," "Wilfred" and Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" are all targeted for June.
8:33 a.m. Landgraf tells us to stop reporting Live + Same Day ratings for FX shows, that we're underselling the numbers by at least a third. "I'm hoping that over time we can catch up with viewership and manage to report the total audiences for those.
8:35 a.m. This is the 10th anniversary of the first TCA panel for "The Shield." Awww. Nostalgia.
8:36 a.m. We start our question by asking about the Live + Three Day numbers and our desire to get said numbers to report, since that's what FX is getting paid for. Landgraf says that 60 percent of FX's revenue is based on "the full measure of all ratings." How is Landgraf feeling about DVR this year? Well, he's still not a fan from an ad-sales point of view. He says that two-thirds of the audience for his shows, the network isn't getting paid for. FX Productions is a new and valuable source of revenue for the network.
8:38 a.m. Our first "Anger Management"/Charlie Sheen query. "It was just a regular pitch," Landgraf says. "I would say I walked into the pitch as skeptical as you would imagine I would be," he adds, calling it "just a really excellent pitch." Landgraf says that we're dealing with "a very different Charlie Sheen" and that he saw that guy at the pitch. He calls the pitch "funny, complicated and the character that Charlie ought to be playing at this point," calling it a character with a checkered past with a complicated relationship with his 13-year-old daughter. At the pitch, they got 15 outlines for storylines, but Landgraf literally has not seen A SINGLE SCRIPT. "I go into the process as optimistically as you can without having seen scripts," Landgraf says. "I believe really deeply in the pilot process," he insists. "It's a very inexpensive series," he adds of the Lionsgate production, which means that the network has less control than over FX-owned comedies. "We're a network that likes to take risks.
8:42 a.m. What's up with S.2 of "American Horror Story"? Ryan Murphy is already "in active conversations" with possible new actors. He adds that two or possibly three members of the S.1 cast could be back next season, but in different roles. He adds that those cast members could be regulars or just guest stars from last season. It sounds like FX always knew that Murphy planned on rebooting the show after a season.
8:43 a.m. More on "American Horror Story." Landgraf says that the creators were very "buttoned up" and that they have "more leeway and more creative freedom than most," so FX didn't know everything that was coming through the entire season. Landgraf's biggest concern was that the nature of the genre is that sometimes the audience is ahead of the characters on-screen. We call this dramatic irony. He doesn't. Landgraf praises the writers for evolving Jessica Lange's character from a supporting player into something of a lead by the end. "It was an experiment," he admits, saying that the twist didn't alienate the audience. "If you want to be in business with him, you have to accept the premise that you're going to be on something of a wild ride," Landgraf says of Ryan Murphy.
8:46 a.m. Nice. A question about employing a man with Charlie Sheen's history of violence against women. At least one critic thinks Charlie Sheen should "be banished to Siberia," as Landgraf puts it. "For me, I think that if Charlie wants to get his house in order and that encompasses his issues with substance abuse and his issues with his own family... and he wants to do a show in which he as an actor has more complicatedly positive relationships with women... my opinion is that that can be a really good thing, not only for Charlie, but it can be a good thing for society," says Landgraf, who swears that he believes in redemption. The pitch, Landgraf says, has a consciousness of Sheen's past problems and encompasses those. "I'm all for giving him the opportunity to turn things around."
8:49 a.m. What are FX's priorities for this year? Landgraf says that FX may actually be light in drama at the moment, promising to launch two more dramas within the next year. He calls it a difficult environment, referencing the sheer number of new shows on the air in the past year. "In any given year, the priority is to find something great and not only something great, but something that's really distinctive," Landgraf says. Russell Brand also represents a shift into late-night for FX. Obviously that market is glutted as well. "We have to start small," Landgraf predicts. "We're going to start that process, because we'd really like, as a channel that's involved in comedy, to have a daily show."
8:51 a.m. And what about "Powers"? "We didn't pick the pilot of 'Powers' up," Landgraf says. Chick Eglee did a substantial rewrite that would require substantial reshoots of the pilot. "I really adore the underlying material," Landgraf says, calling it "as difficult an adaptation as I've ever worked with." FX hasn't decided yet whether or not to move forward with doing those extensive reshoots. Landgraf says that there's never been a superhero drama that's taken the superhero drama into 10 p.m. drama territory, praising HBO and "Game of Thrones" for pulling off a somewhat similar challenge.
8:54 a.m. "I don't think it's a cynical publicity stunt," Landgraf insists of the Charlie Sheen pick-up sans pilot. He compares the pick-up to the network's acquisition model for established comedy repeats. Landgraf notes that there is a "very, very high ratings threshold" for the option to trigger the additional 90 episodes attached to the original 10 episode order. Landgraf expects that "Anger Management" will likely air after "Two and a Half Men" repeats. "I don't know whether it'll premiere big and sink like a stone and won't even hit its threshold, let along whether it can sustain 90 episodes over two years," Landgraf admits. "Everything we do is a roll of the dice. Sometimes it comes up the number you want, sometimes it doesn't," he says.
8:59 a.m. Our last question is about FX's new UFC deal. It's an extension of a Fox Sports deal. Fox Sports made a seven-year deal with UFC and split the content into a variety of streams. FOX is getting four live fights per year and then a few more live fights and "Ultimate Fighter" are going to FX. "We're thrilled to get this content," Landgraf says. He's excited that this will give a huge boost to FX on Friday nights, a traditional slow night for the network. "I think it's going to help the channel," Landgraf says.
That's all, folks...
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