FX Boss Promises Americans Renewal, Bets Big on Fargo
Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys
Fans of the FX drama The Americans may not have to wait much longer for good news about the show’s future.
“I expect we’ll have a formal Season 3 order announcement soon,” FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told reporters at an upfront news conference in New York Wednesday. “We look forward to it being on our schedule for quite some time.”
Although the show’s ratings are small (and have declined since the Season 2 premiere), Landgraf says the show’s audience increases as much as 400 percent when factoring in DVR users. “That’s a stunning level of DVR usage, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before,” he says. “It literally changes the equation. You wake up the next morning and get your Nielsen report card — it doesn’t mean very much. Everything’s gotten more complicated … which makes it interesting, but it isn’t the good old days where you can just pick the fruit right off the tree.”
Landgraf was less committal about the futures of comedies Legit and Chozen, both of which he plans to evaluate after they finish airing their current seasons. But even though FX faces losing two of its staple programs in the coming year — both Justified and Sons of Anarchy, the most-watched show in FX’s history, are heading into their final seasons — Landgraf is bullish about the slate of new original programming. “2014 will be our biggest year ever,” he said. “We’ll move from 11 original series to 20 original series across FX and FXX.”
In particular, Landgraf is high on Fargo, the 10-episode event series based on the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers film of the same name. “We think this new Fargo fills those big snow shoes,” he said. “It’s one of the best things we’ve ever put on our network, and I believe it will be as good as anythingany channel puts on television this year.”
Although it was conceived as a closed-ended miniseries, Landgraf isn’t opposed to keeping it running with a different cast and story, similar to HBO’sTrue Detective. “It’s so good that I can’t close the door on it,” Landgraf said. “The bar was pretty high to begin with, but [executive producer Noah Hawley‘s] done it. The bar [for a second season] is equally high. It would have to be an extraordinarily great story. If he can do something else that is as good as what he just did, we’d absolutely love to have it.”
Speaking of True Detective, Landgraf weighed in on the way shows are submitted at the Emmys and other awards shows. While he defended what some critics have called a cynical move to submit American Horror Story in the less-competitive miniseries category each year (“A miniseries is a story that ends, a series is a story that continues,” he said), Landgraf said HBO submitting True Detective as a drama series was “unfair.”
“I think it’s actually unfair for HBO to put True Detective in the drama series category because essentially you can get certain actors to do a closed-ended series, a la Billy Bob Thornton in Fargo or Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective, that you can’t get to sign on for a seven-year deal,” he said. “They’re packing the category with certain talent that won’t do a series. So that, in my view, is patently unfair to someone like Matthew Rhys in The Americans, who did sign on for seven-year deal and is shaping a character over a long period of time.”
On the comedy side, Landgraf is looking forward to The Comedians, a new comedy starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, as well as a new Tracy Morgan-fronted comedy from the team behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But Landgraf is most excited to welcome back Louie. The show’s fourth season premieres May 5 with back-to-back episodes on Monday nights for seven consecutive weeks.
“I’ve seen nine of the 14 episodes,” Landgraf says. “Louis [C.K.] asked for some extra time off … to make the show bigger and better. Remarkably, he did exactly what he said he was going to do. It’s an amazing season.”