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FX Is Still Waging the War Against Peak TV

CEO John Landgraf talks 'Atlanta,' 'Fargo,' and the 'Sons of Anarchy' spin-off.

by Pilot Viruet
Aug 10 2017, 4:26pm

During Wednesday morning's Television Critics Association press tour, FX CEO John Landgraf (who coined the phrase "Peak TV") kicked off a day of panels by declaring that we're "heading from an optimal number of shows to an unmanageable number of shows." He later cited numbers: 2016 had 455 scripted series, and 2017 is on track to beat that with 534 (we're at 342 right now)—and that's before Apple enters the game.

But when it comes to streaming networks and monopolies, Landgraf said, "I'm not interested in world domination. I'm interested in running a nice little brand that takes care of its own and does really good work." Fortunately, FX is doing pretty well—and the CEO offered up some updates on its current and future programming, including a second season of Snowfall and the Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans MC, which will have almost an entire Latino cast.

As you would expect, Landgraf was almost immediately asked about Louie, which ended its fifth season in 2015. "I think it's possible there will never be another season of Louie," said Landgraf. "And I think it's also possible there will be four or five more seasons of Louie over the next 30 years." He went to elaborate that Louis CK is busy with other projects—Baskets, Better Things, One Mississippi, The Cops, Horace and Pete, stand-up specials—and that he has "other things that I'm aware of, that he hasn't announced publicly that he's working on."

A key takeaway is that Louis CK has changed since the last season, and that portraying that character was starting to feel "a little false"; so if it ever comes back, "it will be a really different show because I think Louis is already a very different guy." CK himself echoed this later on during a panel promoting Better Things with Pamela Adlon, stating, "I don't think I'll do that exact version [of Louie] again because I just haven't been that guy for a while, with the stained black T shirt and the two kids. They are older now, and I'm an older dad... I might circle back to it later, a different version. I have no idea if that will happen again. I don't think about it much."

Landgraf also gave an update on another frequent collaborator, Fargo and Legion honcho Noah Hawley. As for Fargo,"We haven't heard the head from Noah for what the fourth season would be," even though they've encouraged him to "make sure he has something that he really, really is excited about and believes in, so there's at least some possibility he won't have that idea for some period of time"—but Landgraf also noted it's equally possible they'll hear it "fairly soon." In the meantime, Hawley's actively working on Legion's second season.

Then there's Donald Glover: Landgraf revealed that the animated Deadpool series (co-created by Stephen Glover) will have a "different tone and editorial voice" from the movies. The show has been picked up to series, but they can't reveal when it will air—though they had a writing staff working in London while Glover was on the Star Wars set. Glover also wrote Atlanta's second season before heading to London, and when he's back, they're going to film the season while simultaneously working on Deadpool.

Another topic brought up was the Katrina season of American Crime Story, which was originally scheduled to be the anthology series' second season but was recently switched with The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. (Based on the footage previewed, it was a very good decision.) But Landgraf is confident that Katrina will still air, citing a "big creative pivot." After the success of The People v. O.J. Simpson, "the bar's really high for this franchise and we just weren't confident we were going to get over it" until they pivoted a bit—but Landgraf wants to wait for Murphy to decide when to announce the exact idea.

But until then, FX will still have plenty of Ryan Murphy on the network: American Horror Story: Cult will premiere September 5 and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is set for January 2018.

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