FX’s Landgraf on ‘Fargo,’ ‘AHS: Freak Show’ and ‘Strain’

UDPATE: An earlier version of this story included an incomplete quote from FX's John Landgraf about 'True Detective'

Standing out among the glut of programming choices was the theme of FX CEO John Landgraf’s executive session at the annual Television Critics Assn.

“I’m apologizing for the ramp-up at programming at FX, and thank you for not booing me off the stage,” said Landgraf at the start of his session.

“With the profusion of the excellence on television, people want to be wowed, they want to be surprised,” he said. “We’d rather fail spectacularly and nobly, rather than succeed in a quiet way.”

Landgraf announced a second season of the critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated miniseries “Fargo,” which will launch next fall at the earliest and will feature a new cast of characters and actors. “It’s heartbreaking from my standpoint, given how much I love the actors,” he said. “Ryan (Murphy) said he wanted to do a Mercury Theatre with a group of actors. But ‘Fargo’ demands a different level of realism.”

He said they will not necessarily be looking to cast movie stars for next season. “It will bring more buzz, but we can do it with unknowns,” he said. “I think Allison Tolman brought as much as to ‘Fargo’ as Billy Bob Thornton.”

“I think ‘True Detective’ is going to have to prove it’s more than a vehicle for movie stars,” said Landgraf. “Nic (Pizzolatto) is going to have to prove he can write something truly great every single year. I think Noah (Hawley) has already proven he can write something great.”

Landgraf said “American Horror Story: Freak Show” has begun production in New Orleans, and will be set in the 1950s. “I love what I’ve read so far,” he said. “It’s not quite as brooding and Hitchcockian as ‘Asylum,'” he said. “It’s got more humor and more camp.”

Although he’s pleased with the success of “The Strain,” he also admitted he was slow to embrace the horror genre. “I spend a lot of time reading, watching other shows, going to plays, I miss things sometimes,” he said. “I was worried that horror wouldn’t sustain characters over time. But Guillermo del Toro is an original voice…So far, I think we were right, but time will tell.”

He also addressed the cancellation of W. Kamau Bell’s late-night show. “What I think is that the show wasn’t good enough yet,” he said.  “We bet on a very young, very talented guy early in the curve.”

Landgraf also announced a fifth season of “Louie,” Louis C.K.’s Emmy-nominated comedy series, which will  debut in spring 2015.

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  1. MK says:

    You couldn’t be more wrong. Fargo ripped off True Detective and the Coen Bros. The writer used a writer’s room which he didn’t credit, and John Landgraf developed Fargo after failing to acquire True Detective, but using TD’s format and first two scripts and story outline as starting points. True Detective was about human beings. Fargo was about quirky caricatures. TD made you feel the entire time. Fargo was an exercise is boring derivatives. TD had urgency. Fargo was a long, imitative lull. And the TCA agreed. Landgraf has been obsessed with TD and Pizzolatto since he tried so hard to get them and could not. It’s pathetic to see a network president talk so much b.s. FX makes middlebrow schlock.

  2. Geoff says:

    Nic Pizzolatto has more than proven that he is a gifted and great writer. No need for such sour grapes, doesn’t make you look good, particularly when you bid so hard to get the project in the first place. You have great shows on the air, but you don’t have anything on the air that is written as well as True Detective. And what kind of Network head takes shots at writers like that? Very disappointing, Jon.

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