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FX Promotes Trio of Execs, Orders Toon Comedy ‘Chozen’ for FXX

Nick Grad, Eric Schrier, Chuck Saftler earn prexy stripes in advance of cabler's expansion

FX Networks will soon have a triumvirate of presidents, as longtime execs Nick Grad, Eric Schrier and Chuck Saftler have been upped to prexy ranks.

Grad and Schrier have been upped to presidents of original programming for FX Networks and FX Prods. Saftler advances to prez of program strategy and COO of FX Networks.

Promotions come on the heels of John Landgraf taking on the CEO role at FX Networks and FX Prods. earlier this week and in advance of the Sept. 2 bow of spinoff channel FXX.

At a gathering with reporters on Thursday, Landgraf emphasized the importance of the team’s longevity and their collaborative approach to development and programming. Execs also unveiled the first new original series slated for FXX, animated comedy “Chozen” from the Rough House Pictures team of Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green.

“A lot of this is about pushing creative authority down,” Landgraf said of the exec promotions. “One of the problems at large organizations is that the person engaging with the creative doesn’t have the authority to make the decision. It’s a stilted, rather than fluid, conversation. If they’re not empowered themselves, then they’re not empowering the creative.”

He added of his new post: “While it is hard at times to step back from some of the day to day creative dialogues I love so much, it makes it easier when trusted colleagues and long-time partners are stepping up.”

Grad has been with FX for more than a decade, and most recently served as exec veep of original programming and development. FX shows that have fallen into Grad’s wheelhouse include “The Americans,” “The Bridge” and “American Horror Story.”

Schrier joined FX in 1999, assisting then prez of entertainment Kevin Reilly. Before being tapped as prez, Schrier was head of series development. Some of his recent projects at the net include “Legit” and “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.”

Saftler has held a tenure of twenty years at FX, joining the net in 1993 as director of scheduling before the official launch of the cabler. Saftler aided in the launch of the Fox Movie Channel, and was most recently exec veep of FX Networks.

“We’ve structured ourselves so if you look at the organization of FX networks, there will be a very tiny number of people working on only one channel,” Landgraf noted. “The vast majority of the staff — 180 out of 200 — will be working on all 3 channels. It’s one brand, one culture, one set of sensibilities.”

Comedy “Chozen” will get a big push as as FXX’s first original series order. Toon from FX Prods. centers on a gay white rapper fresh out of prison. It’s targeted to bow in the first quarter of next year.

Grant Dekernion is scribe and exec producer on “Chozen.” McBride, Hill and Green from Rough House Pictures also serve as exec producers. Floyd County Prods. will animate the series, with Adam Reed and Matt Thompson exec producing.

Lined up to voice the animated program are: Dekernion, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, Michael Pena, Nick Swardson, McBride, Kathryn Hahn and Method Man.

”Chozen’ is an outrageous and ballsy comedy, but it’s also a very smart examination of the rap culture,” Grad said.

Grad stated at the conference that the true differentiation between FX and newbie sibling net FXX — at this point — lies in demographics.

“FXX is aimed at the 18-34 demographic, while FX is aimed at 18-49,” the prez said.

FXX is slated to launch in around 71 million Nielsen homes. Landgraf noted that the branding for the channel will blend professional marketing with DIY aesthetics in an effort to speak to younger generations.

“I can’t say there won’t be some bumps in the launch,” Landgraf admitted.

The CEO anticipates budgets for shows on FX and FXX to be roughly the same, and mentioned that each series will have a home base on a single net, though the chief doesn’t count out running a skein across two or three of the FX networks.

In talking with journos, Landgraf said he does not expect to order more episodes of latenight skein “Brand X with Russell Brand,” but he said FX is eying a live-action comedy with Brand that would be loosely based on the comedian’s life.

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