“FX has a had more nominations for mature women than any other brand in television for the last decade for acting awards,” FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said during the company’s TCA executive session today. And that was a longtime strategy that hails back to Landgraf’s early days at FX when the network had three major series on the air, Nip/Tuck, The Shield and Rescue Me, all with male leads.
That is when the network was pitched Breaking Bad but opted to go with legal drama Damages starring Glenn Close instead.
“Of course I wish I didn’t pass on Breaking Bad but I’m glad we picked up Damages. We were the first to bring a female film star to be on a show (with Close’s arc on The Shield.) She had said after that that she would not do a television show unless we wanted to develop for her. Even though it didn’t win as many awards as Breaking Bad, Damages set the stage for our ambition to bring great female actrors to our network.”
The list includes Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates, stars of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story and his upcoming Feud: Bette and Joan, which as Landgraf noted, features four Oscar-winning actresses, Lange, Bates, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Lange, Sarandon and Murphy carried on the topic of ageism in Hollywood and its impact on actresses during the Feud panel that followed the executive session.
Landgraf also reiterated the network’s commitment to increasing diversity behind the camera. Following FX’s push to get from the back to the front of the pack in diversity among episodic directors, going from 88% to 48% white male directors over a year, the network will continue the effort, Landgraf said.
“It’s a mandate in terms of hiring writing staffs to have greater diversity, it’s a work in process. And we said we were going to do it, and we’re going to keep going until every aspect of our channel is fair and better reflects the diversity of the population of the country we live in and is not as skewed as the whole industry has been towards white heterosexual males.”