FX focuses on more originals

John Landgraf sez he wants to beef up drama slate

Despite record ratings and critical acclaim for its original series, FX has no intention of resting on its laurels.

Network topper John Landgraf said the goal in 2012 will be to add a few more dramas to its lineup. At present the cabler airs “Sons of Anarchy,” “Justified” and its most recent hit, “American Horror Story.”

“We’re actually a little light on the drama side,” Landgraf told scribes in Pasadena on Sunday for the final day of the Television Critics Assn. tour. “We’d like to have four or five dramas and would like to launch two more in the next year from this point. … Our priority is to find something great and distinctive that moves the form.”

Net recently decided not to give a series order to the pilot “Outlaw Country,” which centered on a Nashville crime family.

Now Landgraf and his exec team will need to make a decision on supernatural-themed “Powers,” starring Jason Patric. Pilot has undergone some revisions since it was completed. It’s based on the comicbook by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming that revolves around a futuristic society where police supervise people with superpowers.

“It’s as difficult an adaptation as I’ve worked on. It’s a really hard one,” said Landgraf. “It can be done but is proving really difficult.”

Another project that was picked up to pilot last month is “The Americans,” a drama set in the early 1980s revolving around married KGB spies living in suburban Washington, D.C. Show was created by former CIA staffer Joe Weisberg.

On the comedy side, FX made news with the acquisition of Lionsgate comedy “Anger Management,” which marks the return of Charlie Sheen to primetime. Distributed by Debmar-Mercury in a deal that is similar to the Tyler Perry skeins on TBS, the show will get an additional 90-episode order if the first 10 episodes meet a high ratings threshold.

Impressed with the pitch from creator Bruce Helford, Landgraf said the Sheen-fronted redo of the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson comedy is a chance worth taking.

The FX topper, who collaborates closely with the showrunners of the cabler’s originals, admitted to being a bit concerned that the network wouldn’t have much creative input on “Anger.”

“We don’t like to go to series without making pilots,” admitted Landgraf, which is the case for “Anger.” “I believe deeply in the pilot process but the model is the model. It’s a very inexpensive series for us, but we don’t have the same level as creative control as other FX series.”

Landgraf also said he remains sketchy on how the storylines will develop, but he has faith in Helford, who has a wealth of sitcom experience on shows including “The Drew Carey Show” and “George Lopez.”

As for concerns about the behavior of Sheen, who was publicly fired from “Two and a Half Men,” Landgraf said he is convinced that the actor will put his best foot forward.

“My opinion is that this could be a really good thing,” for Sheen, Landgraf said. “I believe in redemption.”

Other upcoming programming for FX includes animated skein “Unsupervised,” from the team behind “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and “Strangely Uplifting,” a new weekly latenight show with Russell Brand. Cabler is also about to get into the mixed martial arts world and will air UFC matches 32 weeks a year.

FX hit its all-time best in overall viewers in 2011, averaging 1.5 million viewers in primetime, up 21% from the year before. In the 18-49 demo, net drew 859,000 viewers, a 22% uptick.