FX has greenlit a fourth season of comedy “Louie” and ordered drama pilot “The Bridge.”
Announcements were made at the cabler’s Saturday morning Television Critics Assn. panel at the BevHilton, where FX president John Landgraf took some shots at Netflix while also adding that his network has the potential to eventually ramping up to 20 original series.
“Louie” has been a critical darling for the cabler, which ordered 13 additional episodes for the season four. “Louie” is the brainchild of comedian Louis C.K., who stars, writes and directs the series.
“With this series, he has changed the form and is doing truly groundbreaking, landmark work that is inspiring a whole new generation of artist,” said Landgraf. “Simply put, he is making one of the best shows anywhere on television.”
M. Blair Breard and Dave Becky join C.K. as exec producers. Current season ends with an hourlong episode on Sept. 27.
“The Bridge,” based on a Swedish series and with Shine America as the shingle behind it, was created by “Cold Case” exec producer Meredith Stiehm. Network also has pilot “The Americans” — starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys about a pair of KGB spies living in the U.S. in the 1980s — in play and still has not pulled the plug on “Powers,” which would need a complete reshoot if it was go to forward.
Landgraf took issue with online original programmers such as Hulu and Netflix who refuse to report their ratings data on their series, and other web-based entities who only report whose auds who are watching for minutes or seconds of a particular show, not the entire episode.
“Hits and misses need to be judged in some context,” Landgraf said. “It needs to be an apples-to-apples comparison on who’s watching the entire episode of the show. There’s a little bit of fuzziness in the math of what’s going on. ‘True Blood’ has a genuine consumer following, but I can’t tell you how many people are watching (Netflix original) ‘Lilyhammer.’ Where does ‘Lilyhammer’ stand?
FX currently has 11 original series on the air but Landgraf said he could see the net nearly doubling that over the next few years. However, budget restrictions will play a factor.
“There is a limit to what we can do financially. I can see us getting to 20 but that won’t fill all of primetime,” Landgraf said. “It’s not economically viable to do that.”
In looking over the current FX sked, net currently has three dramas on the air — “Sons of Anarchy,” “Justified” and “American Horror Story” (though submitted to Emmys as miniseries) — and Landgraf sees that number going up in a big way.
“I eventually see ourselves getting into six or seven dramas,” Landgraf said. “We had an opportunity to get ahead with comedy. We decided to make comedy a priority and now we’ve turned back to drama.”
Landgraf said he see the Timothy Olyphant starrer “Justified” running for at least six seasons. The most recent third season ended in April.
Though FX airs a large amount of original programming, the majority of its primetime sked remains offnet fare and theatrical films. Landgraf said that while attracting syndie comedies can bring a large viewership — “Two and a Half Men” is a major player on the cabler — there are acquisition limitations.
“We would have liked to buy ‘The Big Bang Theory’ or ‘Modern Family,’ but prices were astronomical,” he explained. “We’re concerned about the volume of successful offnet series coming out of broadcast. We want to have our own shows rather than being in a crazy scrum with Turner and USA in chasing after these things.”
As for “Anger Management,” which has added Martin Sheen as a series regular, Landgraf said there is “every indication” the show will receive its 90-episode back order. Showrunner Bruce Helford and his writing team have already begun on the additional episodes.
Series, from Lionsgate Television, sometimes receives unfair criticism, said Landgraf, because it’s compared against FX’s singlecam series such as “Louie” and “Wilfred,” rather than traditional multicams like “Two and a Half Men” and “Mike & Molly.”
“As with any comedy, it has more growth in it creatively, but, generally speaking, I’m very happy,” Landgraf said.
In other programming news, net picked up seven more episodes of “Brand X With Russell Brand” and has begun casting comedy pilot “Bronx Warrants.” Laffer, about detectives who arrest those in the Gotham borough with outstanding warrants, was created by Dean Lorey, who exec produce with FX vets Denis Leary and Jim Serpico.
Robert Kelly, comedian Godfrey, Josh Segarra and Shirley Rumierk will co-star.