UPDATED: At the opening of FX’s executive session, president John Landgraf announced a 13-episode second season pickup of Louis C.K.’s new comedy series Louie five weeks into the show’s freshman run. Additionally, FX has greenlighted Alabama, a comedy pilot co-created and starring Reno 911! masterminds Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. The pilot is set a thousand years in the future, aboard the United Nations peacekeeping spaceship: The USS Alabama. It follows the crew, who are in the sixth year of the their seven-year mission to maintain peace and enforce treaties between planets in their jurisdiction. Garant and Lennon are executive producing the FX Prods.-produced pilot with Peter Principato and Paul Young. It reunited Garant and Lennon with Landgraf who served as an exec producer on Reno.
During the Q&A portion, Ladgraf also “broke” news related to sibling broadcast network Fox. Mixing together the two subjects that had been taboo at the ABC (Steve McPherson’s resignation) and Fox (judge changes on American Idol) TCA presentations over the past two days, Landgraf said: “(Fox entertainment chairman) Peter Rice told me I could deny that Steve McPherson is becoming a judge of American Idol.”
Landgraf was asked to define the difference between a broadcast and cable drama series. “There are 13 episodes a season for a cable series, 22 for a broadcast series. I’m not sure if there is any other distinction,” he said. But don’t expect FX to gradually morph into a network with a broadcast-size slate of original series. While FX has been rapidly expanding its series portfolio to a point where it has more original series than any other cable network, “dozen is the maximum we are going to get to,” Landgraf said. “We’re nearly there, and will need a couple of years to reach full size.”
He was asked to address the move of its drama series Damages to DirecTV. “DirectTV wanted it exclusively, so this was the best and only way for Damages to go forward.”
Landgraf also commented on the network’s snub in the Emmy nominations this year. Noting that the only FX series to make an Emmy impact in the past couple of years has been Damages, a show about “extremely powerful, well dressed well coifed people from the upper stratosphere of Manhattan,” Landgraf’s explanation of the snub was that “we tend to do the literature of the common men and women.” “There is no lesson in personal grooming to be taken from watching Sons of Anarchy,” he said.
Landgraf also paid homage to Shawn Ryan, whose cop drama The Shield put the channel on the map. “If it wasn’t for the Shield, we wouldn’t have had Damages or Sons of Anarchy,” Landgraf said, referring to the fact that Glenn Close’s casting in Damages stemmed from her turn on The Shield and that Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter came out of The Shield. The final season of The Shield was also used to launch Sons. Now, Sons is being used to launch Ryan’s new FX series, Terriers. “This is the TV version of circle of life,” Landgraf said.