EXCLUSIVE: I hear FX has pulled the trigger on a series order for Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s hot drama pilot American Horror Story, from 20th Century Fox TV. The spooky project which stars Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton and Jessica Lange, has been picked up for 13 episodes and is eyed for a Halloween launch with an October 5 premiere. Described as a psychosexual thriller, American Horror Story centers on a therapist (McDermott) and his wife (Britton) who, dealing with the aftermath of the husband’s adultery, move along with their kids into a new house that seems to know all about their fears and plays on them. American Horror Story has strong supernatural elements (For example, the housekeeper is perceived differently by the two spouses) and also explores other forms of horror in society. In creating the show, Murphy and Falchuk took inspiration from classic 1970s horror movies, including Rosemary’s Baby, Don’t Look Now and The Shining.
American Horror Story had been on the fast track at FX since the get-go. It was given a pilot order in February. Before the pilot was even cast, FX president John Landgraf in March said that the project had been earmarked for a fall 2011 launch. But I hear that plan was solidified by the pilot’s great testing results, especially in the female demos, fueled by the appeal of stars Britton and Lange. In anticipation of a series order, American Horror Story had already assembled a writing staff that has been working on scripts. Filming is expected to start in about 2 weeks. Co-starring on the series are Frances Conroy, Alexandra Breckenridge, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters and Denis O’Hare. Murphy and Falchuk will juggle running the series with shepherding their hit Fox dramedy Glee. This marks Murphy and Falchuk’s official return to FX where they executive produced the long-running drama Nip/Tuck, which Murphy created.
UPDATE 10:20AM: FX just issued a press release announcing the pickup:
LOS ANGELES, July 18, 2011 – FX has placed a 13-episode order for its next original drama series, American Horror Story, co-created by former Nip/Tuck executive producers and current Glee co-creators/executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, announced John Landgraf, President and General Manager, FX Networks. American Horror Story begins production in Los Angeles on July 27 and will premiere on FX in October.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Ryan and Brad back to their original home,” said Landgraf. “They have shown an uncanny ability to bring original series to the air unlike any that have come before, and to reconcile ‘wildly entertaining’ with the ‘creatively ambitious.’ Once again, American Horror Story is a wholly unique and original take on its genre with richly drawn characters. The ability to put together a cast of stars such as Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy and Oscar®-winner Jessica Lange speaks to the quality of the writing and storytelling. This series is going to blow audiences back in their seats, and we can’t wait to have it on our air.”
The pilot episode of American Horror Story, shot in Los Angeles, was written by Murphy and Falchuk, and it was directed by Murphy. In addition to Murphy and Falchuk, Dante Di Loreto will also serve as Executive Producer of the series.
“Brad and I are excited to be back at FX where we enjoyed such a terrific relationship working with John Landgraf and his team through 100 episodes of Nip/Tuck,” said Murphy. “The support of John, Dana Walden and Gary Newman on American Horror Story has been nothing short of amazing. Our cast is extraordinary and we can’t wait to get started on production.”
American Horror Story is produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television.
“Ryan and Brad are two of the most original voices working in television, and their singular vision is evident in every frame of American Horror Story,” commented TCFTV Chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman. “Just as they delivered a brand new take on the musical comedy in Glee, they’ve completely reinvented the horror genre with this spellbinding series. Their script attracted a cast that is a virtual ‘who’s who’ of award winning performers and the result is an electrifying piece of entertainment. It has long been our goal to bring this brilliant team back to John Landgraf and FX, where they had such success with Nip/Tuck. In American Horror Story, they are returning with something unlike anything else on the air that is a perfect fit for this channel’s brand.”
American Horror Story revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish. The All Star cast features Dylan McDermott (The Practice) as “Ben Harmon,” a psychiatrist; Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) as “Vivien Harmon,” Ben’s wife; Taissa Farmiga as “Violet,” the Harmon’s teenage daughter; Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky, Grey Gardens) in her first-ever regular series TV role as “Constance,” the Harmon’s neighbor; Evan Peters (One Tree Hill) as “Tate Langdon,” one of Ben’s patients; and Denis O’Hare (The Good Wife) as “Larry Harvey.” Guest stars for the series include Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) and Alexandra Breckenridge (Dirt) as the Harmon’s housekeepers; and Jamie Brewer as Constance’s daughter.
American Horror Story is FX’s 12th drama to receive a full 13-episode series order, and ninth out of the last ten drama pilots produced by the network to receive a series order. Other FX dramas include the Golden Globe Award winning Sons of Anarchy, the highest-rated series in the network’s history; the acclaimed Emmy Award nominated hit Justified; the critically acclaimed series Terriers, and Lights Out; Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Damages; Emmy Award nominated The Riches; Dirt; the acclaimed Over There; Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominated hit Rescue Me; Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Nip/Tuck; and Emmy and Golden Globe Award hit The Shield. FX is currently in production on two other drama series pilots, Outlaw Country, starring John Hawkes, Mary Steenburgen, Luke Grimes and Haley Bennett, and Powers, starring Jason Patric.