Hello again from a very dark and overly air-conditioned hotel ballroom at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour! Today's presentations belong to FX, and the network kicked off the morning with an "executive session" from network president John Landgraf, one of the best programming brains in the business. Just as I did yesterday after our session with Fox boss Kevin Reilly, I've compiled some of the highlights, "notes and quotes"-style.
On his future plans for new series across both FX and FXX, including a comedy pilot from Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis:
We're "running a marathon, not a sprint," and more original programming is on the way. Landgraf noted that last year, when FX Networks announced the launch of FXX, the company promised not to just spread out the shows it already had. "This year's gonna be our best and most expansive year ever for both comedy and drama," he said. Just today, the network announced its order of a new comedy pilot to be co-written by Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. We don't have any details—as in zero, zilch, nado—regarding what the show will be about, but Galifianakis will star. The network currently has 12 comedy pilots in production, and Landgraf expects "to announce several new comedy series orders in the coming weeks."
On when Louie will be back for Season 4:
May of this year! No exact date yet, however.
On Fargo, which now has a premiere date of Tuesday, April 15 at 10pm on FX:
"It's one of the best things we've ever done," Landgraf said. It's a "closed-end" story, and future seasons would feature new casts and plots, just like American Horror Story. Fargo stars Sherlock's Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard (FX's version of the William H. Macy character from the 1996 film), and during Landgraf's panel, we got to peek at some of the footage. It looks great, so here's hoping there will be an official trailer soon!
On why Justified will end in 2015, after six seasons:
"I would have liked to have had more Justified," Landgraf said. "Justified is one of my favorite shows, I just really love it personally." But series creator Graham Yost and series star/executive producer Timothy Olyphant felt the arc of the show "would be better served" with six seasons, not seven, and so "I regretfully accepted their decision. ... We've tried not to make business drive creative," either by extending a show beyond its lifespan or cutting it short. (Note that Justified isn't officially renewed for Season 6 yet, but if I were a betting gal, I'd go all-in on that announcement coming out soon rather than later.)
On why The Bridge got a second season:
Landgraf noted that ratings-wise, The Americans and The Bridge performed almost exactly the same. And after promising that The Americans will be even better in Season 2, he acknowledged that The Bridge wasn't as strong in its first season as it possibly could've been: "I think there were some really strong elements to the show last year," but I think there were some elements that weren't as strong as I thought." But he has faith that the show could still go somewhere great, asserting that "if you have a reason to believe that a show is on a great creative threshold, you oughta renew it."
On Ryan Murphy's creative control over American Horror Story:
Murphy "has virtual carte blanche right now," Landgraf said. We "still read every script and watch every rough cut, but we don't have much input." As for Murphy's plans for Season 4, "I think it'll probably be a period piece, again, I don't think it will be contemporary," and "I know most of the current cast will return," but "I'm waiting for Ryan to tell me."
On his general approach of giving series creators control over their shows:
When asked—in response to what he said about Murphy and AHS—whether it's perhaps a bit dangerous to let show creators work freely without someone to reign them in, so to speak, Landgraf responded, "I think it is a little dangerous, I think it kind of excites me. It depends on who it is. I don't think Louis [C.K.] needs my input, I think he's fine without it. ... It's not as if I don't feel like I could ask Louis or Ryan to do something and they would not do it. They do their thing, and they do it well."
On his overall programming strategy:
Landgraf said he knows that not all of FX's series may be for everyone, but that's kind of the point: "Clearly, those shows are great for somebody. Make them really good for somebody, not pretty good for everybody."