The biggest news on the closing night of PaleyFest was the reveal that Michael Chiklis is joining the American Horror Story cast for the fourth season. Series co-creator Ryan Murphy said the Emmy winner will make his AMS debut playing the father of Evan Peters’ character and the ex-husband of Kathy Bates’ character on American Horror Story: Freak Show, the title of which Murphy announced in a tweet this week.
“What a way to come back to my home network,” Chiklis told the screaming crowd at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. “We’re going to freak you and scare you!” Said Murphy: “Every person on this stage is coming back,” referring to Bates, Emma Roberts (Madison Montgomery), Angela Bassett (Marie Laveau), Sarah Paulson (Cordelia Grove), Gabourey Sidibe (Queenie), Frances Conroy (Myrtle Snow), Jamie Brewer (Nan), Denis O’Hare (Spalding) and Evan Peters (Kyle Spencer). While most of the castmembers were announced in the press recently, Roberts and O’Hare were known to be holdouts. Prior to the panel tonight, both actors told Deadline that they were still in talks.
FX picked up a fourth season of the horror show in November, and Murphy offered some details about Freak Show during tonight’s panel. “It’s not a circus, it’s not a carnival, it’s a freak show set in 1950, and it was a concept that Jessica Lange talked about as she wanted to play this type of character,” he said about Lange’s German-expatriate character who is the boss of the freak show. “We’re shooting in New Orleans, but the series will be set in Florida,” Murphy added. He also discussed how FX never expected American Horror Story: Coven to be the highest-rated season. “There’s always a division among the research [department] for this show,” said Murphy, who co-created the show with Brad Falchuk. “I was told that the third season wouldn’t be as highly rated as the others, because it felt more niche.” The January 29 season finale of the show’s third iteration, American Horror Story: Coven, attracted nearly 6 million viewers — counting its premiere run and encores — nearly 4 million of them in the 18-49 demo.
What drove the crowd in Murphy’s opinion was “the most amazing group of women we could wrangle for the show.” After the grim previous season of American Horror Story: Asylum, he sought a more contemporary and glamorous plot line. Falchuk said: “What Coven became was this idea of mothers and daughters. What does it mean to be a mother? What does it be more daughter? You can’t have more female horror genre than witches.”
As far as the reception of the panel, the stacked house screamed liked it was a Lady Gaga concert. It’s a wonder why FX doesn’t break the cast from their summer shooting schedule to take AHS to Comic-Con. Pinnacles the crowd took to tonight included Sidibe re-enacting Sarah Paulson’s off-the-set encounter in the New Orleans French Quarter when she was waterbombed by a passerby, as well as the cast ribbing an absent Lange, who was not present as she was spending time with her grandchildren. “She bakes for them — in the furniture from last season!” quipped Bates. “Jessica probably took the light fixture,” said Paulson about the whereabouts of the series’ best props, “She’s a thief!”
As the panel wrapped, news broke that a 5.1 earthquake hit the Southland. However, nobody in the Dolby theater was fazed by the tremors, as the Hollywood & Highland structure held its ground. Not to mention, the crowd was too busy charging the stage for autographs from the AHS cast.
Since its inception, the AHS franchise has amassed a total of 34 Emmy Award nominations. The first season of AHS tied with Mad Men for the most nominations of any program in 2012 with 17, and AHS: Asylum received the most noms of any show last year, also with 17. Michael Chiklis won a 2002 Best Actor-Drama Emmy for playing Detective Vic Mackey on FX’s breakout drama The Shield. He recently starred on CBS’ Vegas and ABC’s No Ordinary Family.
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