FXX - New network from the FOX family + John Landgraf interview
Thursday, January 17, 2013
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
This episode most certainly could air on FXX.
FOX executives are planning to split FOX's cable network FX in two this fall. If the arrangement goes through, FX will stay where it's at, but a new channel called FXX will debut, with an emphasis on broadcasting comedies aimed at young people.
FX's comedies, like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, are expected to move to FXX, while dramas, like Justified and Sons of Anarchy, will stay on the original channel.
Networks splitting their comedic and dramatic programming between two cable channels is nothing new. Turner does it with TBS (comedy) and TNT (drama), and AMC broadcasts drama with comedic content airing on its sister channel IFC. Plans are for the big shift to take place in September, with FXX launching with 75 million subscribers.
FX certainly has enough comedy programming to fill out a separate network's schedule, after making a big push in that direction these past few years. The network currently has 9 original comedies (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Archer, Louie, Wilfred, Anger Management, Brand X with Russell Brand, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and Legit), more comedies than any other cable channel except Comedy Central.
Those comedies + reairings of theatrical movies & syndicated TV shows would make up FXX's schedule. Let's hope this stops here and that FOX doesn't split FXX into FXX and FXXX in 10 years to target even younger viewers who like even raunchier comedies.
Do you think it's good or bad for FX ? Sound off in the comments.
I say it's better : another channel means more revenue, and thus the possibility to produce more original series. Wouldn't it be great to have a new drama series on Thursdays at 10pm on FX, or comedies on Wednesdays at 10pm on FXX (or whatever it ends up being called) ?
Justified will have at least two more seasons (I doubt it'll go on farther than season 7), and Kurt Sutter said he could see SoA ending after season 7 : there's a possibility for fall 2014/early 2015 to be marked by the end of 2 great dramas. Thus it sure would be nice for FX to have new hit series in their first/second season at that time, alongside their old ladies (AHS, which theoretically could go on forever, and hopefully The Americans).
Perhaps it will be :
- The Bridge : remake of Bron/Broen starring Diane Kruger, Demián Bichir, Annabeth Gish, Ted Levine, Emily Rios & Catalina Sandino Moreno ; pilot in production.
- The Strain : adaptation by Guillermo del Toro of his novel trilogy - it will undoubtedly get a series order according to the interview below ; pilot in production soon.
- Tyrant : from 24/Homeland's Howard Gordon, about the trouble an American family goes through when they settle in the Middle East ; pilot starts filming in the Spring.
- Powers : they're going back from scratch (no more Lucy Punch or Jason Patric), they want to find the right angle to tackle this adaptation of the comics.
I'm in for all of them. And since John Landgraf (president of FX) said he envisions having 7 dramatic series on the air during one season, there's hope for all of them.
Speaking of the devil, here's an interview worth reading from said Landgraf :
IGN : I feel like this is the 20th press tour I’ve asked you about this, but Powers... Is it gone?
John Landgraf : No, still alive. We’ve been through so many incarnations. After we made the pilot, we actually developed 3 more episode scripts. So then we had a pilot + 3 scripts, and we decided between the pilot and the scripts that it wasn’t quite the series that we needed it to be. When I say we, by the way, Brian Bendis is involved in every phase of this conversation and discussion. But one of the scripts was written by this guy named Charlie Huston, and he was a novelist. Both I and Brian and others thought, "there is actually something in the tone of this". So Charlie was approached by Brian and said, "Would you be interested in taking on Powers?" And Charlie said, "I've never actually adapted anything before in my life. I have only written novels and stuff of my own, but Powers is my favorite graphic novel, and yes!".
So what ended up happening was we reconstituted the whole thing around Charlie as the creator, with Brian. Charlie went up to Seattle, and they sat down and they talked, and read through all the books, and they came back with a new vision, basically. Essentially, a new pilot to begin with, which is a new, different story than the pilot that we shot. So that pilot is officially gone and dead, and the actors are all gone, but we’re developing a whole new pilot from scratch.
— So basically at some point in the next few months you’ll evaluate whether you want to produce another pilot?
Yeah. What it’s always come down to for me is I know the underlying material is absolutely great. I know Brian has a vision, and Michael [Avon Oeming], but I feel like there have been so many great adaptations of graphic novels done that we have to add something. I would argue that what Robert Kirkman and his collaborators have done at The Walking Dead has brought something to the table that didn’t exist before and that movies weren’t doing. I feel like we have to bring something to the table that doesn’t exist. Television adaptations of graphic novels, for the most part, have been the pretty good food you’ll take when really good food isn’t available, you know what I mean? For me, I’m not going to take second fiddle to Marvel or anybody. I’m not going to be able to make a $200 million negative, and I think that Marvel has done a great job at what they do, and they’ve created a template that really works, so I’m not going to imitate that. I want to make something else with Brian and Charlie and others that’s just as good but different, and trades on the particular strengths that television has in terms of what it can do. And if we can get Powers to that level, I’ll make another pilot, and I’ll put it on the air. But I’m not going to put anything less than an absolutely great version of Powers on the air. That’s like remaking a great film into a good film, and I don’t want to do that.
— I also wanted to ask you about The Strain and working with Del Toro.
I’m so excited about that. I read through all the books. I’ve sat and talked to him and Chuck Hogan, his collaborator on the books, and Carlton Cuse, who’s going to be his collaborator and showrunner, about everything that’s great about those books. Those books haunted my dreams. But we also talked about what needs to change and what needs to grow and what needs to adapt. I think they’re on a really exciting front. I’m going to see the outline for the pilot soon, and I’ll see the pilot script in a few months. We actually hired designers, so I’m actually going to start to see maquettes and design elements in a month. Guillermo’s basically scheduling his life around directing both the pilot and basically functioning as a showrunner. We’re going to shoot it in Canada for financial reasons, because it’s an epic, epic story. It’s really expensive. But also because that’s where he’s doing his movie, and he’s going to move his family up there. We’ve already started talking to graphic and design houses, not only the one Guillermo’s affiliated with here but the ones in Canada. So I would say there’s an extremely high probability that’s going to be a series, not a pilot, but ultimately a season. And I think based on the books it’s going to be either 3, 4 or 5 years, because I think we’re going to tell the basic epic story of the books. I think there are some places we’re going to expand or elaborate, but ultimately I think the beginning of the story is the beginning of the series and the end of the books is the end of the series. A lot of the stuff that happens in the middle will be the same, but a lot will be different. And we think trying to stretch that out for 6-7 years would just be bad.
— That's an interesting approach, because FX is airing more traditional long-running series like Sons of Anarchy, and then you’ve got American Horror Story, where it reinvents itself each year. This is kind an area that exists in the middle of that.
It is. You know, what I realized -- and I credit Ryan Murphy with really opening my eyes on this -- it was such an innovation to go from this orthodoxy that you had to have 22 episodes a year, and you had to be able to make as many episodes as possible -- 300, 200, 150 -- to this notion that, wow, there’s this really amazing model around the notion of just doing 13 a year and maybe just doing 7 years. I credit The Sopranos with that innovation. What it did is it allowed us, instead of making episodic television dramas, it allowed us to start making 90-hour movies. So there’s all these brilliant 90-hour movies -- The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad -- these incredible movies, really. They're long movies. But then I’ve started to think, "Wait a minute, though. If my criteria when someone walks into my office and pitches me something is 'if it’s not 90 hours long then leave', then what am I leaving on the table?". Because I'm leaving everything on the table between what can be successfully adapted into a movie.
By the way, take The Lord of the Rings. You can’t make a movie based on The Lord of the Rings. You can make three movies based on The Lord of the Rings, but there’s a whole lot of really great books that can’t be adapted into a single movie. So then your situation becomes, if you can’t make $800 million-worth of film, then you can’t even do it, right? So my point was, if we just open the door for everything between 2 hours and 90 hours, of any length -- 4 hours, 6, 8, 10, 13, 26, 40, 50, 60, anything -- then in a way what we’re doing for creators... Because that’s what this is all about.
Storytellers are saying the same thing we’re saying to David Chase and others, which is, "We don’t care. We’ll figure out the business. You figure out the epic journey, we’ll figure out the business around it". So I’m really excited about that. We’re going to start making more limited series. In addition to The Strain, which will be somewhere between 39 and 65 episodes, you’re going to see us making a lot more 10 to 12 episode limited series, or some of which might be 24 -- they might go a second season, some of them might not. For me, ultimately, it’s about liberating the storyteller and getting to the great story, not about jamming something into a business model.
— With Carlton Cuse working as showrunner on Bates Motel, if that were to continue and The Strain goes forward, what will his involvement be?
It's actually worked out so that he can do both. Part of the reason, by the way, that I picked up 6 backup scripts for The Strain is that I knew that Carlton, Guillermo and Chuck were available now -- because Bates Motel is basically done with season 1 -- that they were able to staff up and not only write the pilot but also write 5 more episodes. So I said : "I'll pay the money. Let's do it now, rather than the way it's traditionally done", which is where I have to see the pilot in order to commit that money. My point of view is, I’ve got really precious resources here, I'm going to use them when they’re available because I know they all have a lot of other commitments.
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