More laffs in FX lineup

Net gives series orders to two half-hours

FX is getting serious about its comedy slate, giving series orders to two half-hour laffers.

“The League” revolves around a group of longtime guy friends who participate in a fantasy football league. “Louie” stars comic Louis CK as a standup comic and newly single dad raising two daughters in New York City.

Both skeins hail from FX’s inhouse FX Prods. banner. “League” has been picked up for six episodes; “Louie” has a 13-seg order. These pickups come on the heels of a series order last month for animated workplace comedy “Archer” (Daily Variety, July 14).

FX Networks prexy John Landgraf noted that with the “League” and “Louie” orders, FX is poised to have the largest slate of original scripted comedy and drama series of any basic cabler. It’s been a priority for FX to expand its comedy slate and establish an FX “brand” of laffer the way it has with its signature edgy dramas.

“Our brand is about audaciousness and innovation, and those adjectives are equally applicable to drama and comedy series,” Landgraf told Daily Variety.

FX established a toehold in comedy a few years ago with “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” but it’s had a tough time finding companion pieces with the creative goods to survive more than one season. And it took patience to grow “Sunny” into a hit; the outre laffer didn’t blossom into a ratings success for the cabler until its third season.

“Once we got ‘Sunny’ squared away, we started to experiment with producing comedies at a fairly low-cost,” Landgraf said, citing last year’s “Testees” as an example. “We came back this year with an enormous amount of force and effort.”

Landgraf described “League” as a kind of suburban-set “Sex and the City” for men. The semi-improv show revolves around the lives of a group of college friends as they’re forced to take on more responsibilities as husbands and fathers.

Skein was created by the husband-and-wife duo of Jeff Schaffer (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, who also exec produce. Ensemble cast includes Mark Duplass, Steve Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer and Jon Lajoie.

“Louie” is based on the star’s life and will blend standup material with what Landgraf described as “extended vignettes” depicting moments from his offstage experiences. Louis CK is exec producer, writer and helmer of the series. Dave Becky also exec produces.

“League” is skedded to bow during football season this fall and will probably be paired with segs of “Sunny,” which returns for its fifth season Sept. 17. “Louie” will most likely preem early next year.

“Archer” is also expected to debut later this year, probably with episodes airing in tandem with “Sunny.”

FX’s latest comedy orders come on the heels of its pickup of drama “Lawman,” starring Timothy Olyphant as a U.S. marshal in Kentucky (Daily Variety, July 29).

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