FX is about to enter a new era.
The network is struggling to replace a number of its long-running hits, including Snowfall, Mayans MC, What We Do in the Shadows, Reservation Dogs, Archer It is Dave.
As such, John Landgraf, president of FX Content & FX Productions, is “sweating bullets” as he and his team look for new series to replace these shows.
“There was a time when you had these time slots and something was happening in that time slot, it could be good, it could be bad, but it wouldn't be a color bar in that time slot. Now, if we put bad things on air or streaming, it will tarnish 20 years of hard work we've done to try to create a brand that is synonymous with quality,” he told Deadline.
“We have critical needs, but we have to fill them with things that are worthy successors to the last 20 years of programs that we just did. I'm sweating a lot, to be honest with you, because the truth is, you never know. Obviously you wouldn't take something or do something if you didn't think it could be good. But you never know if it’s going to be as good as it needs to be until the end of the process.”
During his executive session at the TCA press tour, Landgraf said it was a “bittersweet” year because all of these shows came to an end.
“There are a lot of these shows that I would have preferred to have been longer, because as you can see, there is a lot of turnover going on in the FX slate at the moment and that puts a huge amount of pressure on me and the development team. More shows airing at once than I'm comfortable with, but the flip side of that is that it creates a lot of excitement because it creates a lot of opportunities to find and release new things. But it's always a little scary when you have such good shows. Do you always wonder how the hell am I going to find something that can replace it? And so far, knock on wood, we’ve done it,” he said.
Landgraf told Deadline that his needs are in both comedy and drama.
This year's slate includes a larger-than-expected list of limited series, including Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, Shōgun, basketball drama Cut and Elisabeth Moss led The veil.
He said this was prompted by strikes by writers and actors. “We thought we were going to spread all these limited resources [series] more than two years. Then, because of the strike, we were unable to return to production, create new pilots and the miniseries was already made. So, in the end, they filled this year's schedule. We have a crying need for new dramas and comedies, starting in 2025,” he told Deadline.
The closet is not completely empty. Obviously There's an Emmy-Winning Comedy The bearwhich returns in June and hopes to launch The English teachera comedy about a gay high school teacher from Brian Jordan Alvarez, later in the year.
The old man, starring Jeff Bridges, will return later in the year. The series is about to restart production after strikes halted it and has three to four episodes.
In terms of development, the network is currently rolling out its comedy pilot Snowflakeswhich comes from Ben Kronengold, Rebecca Shaw, Nick Kroll and Karey Dornetto.
His remake of the cult British comedy peep showstarring Minne Driver and Amandla Jahava, has also been tested and Landgraf told Deadline he is “close” to a decision on his hopes.
Landgraf said he is “desperate to find the next big thing.”
He said pitching has increased since the beginning of the year, but not as much as he expected.
“Certainly, our initial and overall deals at our studio and our home studios, ABC Signature and 20th Television, many things came into play. The market has also opened up to some extent, not as much as I thought would happen after such a prolonged double strike,” he said.
But he added that unlike networks like HBO and streamers like Apple, FX chooses fewer shows as packages, preferring to spend a lot of time “managing” their development.
“All the way back to It's always sunny in Philadelphiaand even The bear, you probably wouldn't have even paid attention to that development deal. A lot of our shows are really about the execution, not the names,” she added.
FX has Noah Hawley Foreigner arriving in 2025, but Landgraf said it will not become an IP factory, highlighting how Maias MC It felt like the right spinoff for Sons of Anarchy because it was set in a different world. “You don’t want to repeat the same thing over and over, it actually doesn’t meet our needs to do that. It’s not what the public wants,” he said.
With all of these shows coming to an end, Landgraf was asked at TCA if another FX run would take place in the final five seasons in the future.
“It’s a really good question and it’s something I struggle with, my team and I struggle with and ponder deeply,” he said.
He pointed to declining attention spans. “I think our impatience with things that are a little demanding has lessened. It’s something that worries me a lot about the media ecosystem created by the internet,” he added. “We have 8 thousand television episodes available on our streaming platforms and so it is very difficult to keep people’s attention. I worry a lot about what this will mean for the deep library, because what I see now, if you look at the entire ecosystem and the actual consumption of television, is that this is a lot of what people want from TV.”
He added that the cost of television production has also “increased radically.”
“We've brought a lot of wonderful talent to television, but there's been an increasing and increasing cost, that's part of what happens when you do 600 television shows. Television shows start at a very expensive price. We have so many shows The shield for It's always sunny in Philadelphia and many that started with budgets so modest that even if they weren't trending, we could afford to revamp them and believe in them creatively. This becomes harder to do when something is very expensive.”
Speaking of expensive shows, the network still has a number of Ryan Murphy-produced series in the works.
The second half of American Horror Story: Delicate launch in April; Gladiator: American Sports Historywhich tells the story of Aaron Hernandez, will be released soon and American Love Story is still in development.
Landgraf said Murphy, who recently returned to Disney after his Netflix deal, is also busy coming up with new ideas.
“All of these issues are in Ryan World and obviously he has his own methodology for communicating when he wants to communicate. He's a little different from everyone else. I can tell you he's working on a lot of new things for us right now that I'm really excited about, which I think he'll announce relatively soon,” he added. “There are always a lot of ideas floating around about possible new seasons of American crime story or American sports history or American love story or Feudbut I kind of never know which one he’s going to latch onto next.”