FX Boss John Landgraf Talks Continuing Diversity Efforts, ‘Curatorial Filter’ in Peak TV Era

John Landgraf Showman of the Year
Jill Greenberg for Variety

FX Networks and FX Productions chairman John Landgraf addressed the network’s ongoing efforts to have more women and people of color behind the camera.

During an appearance at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday, Landgraf was questioned about the lack of female creators on the current FX programming slate.

Landgraf pointed to one his famous charts that showed 44% of writers on FX shows are white men while 56% are women and people of color. Furthermore, 48% of directors on FX shows are white men while 52% are women and people of color.

“We said along time ago we were going to make an immediate change,” he said. “It was going to be a real change, a permanent change.”

He said that it is the easiest to make changes in the sense of diversity with directors as they turn over most frequently, followed by staff writers. He went on to say that FX has emphasized making overall deals with women and people of color, who will then hopefully rise to the position of show creators and showrunners.

“I think the key to this whole diversity effort that we’ve been now working on for awhile is really you have to care about it,” he said. “It has to be a priority. You actually have to value the idea. You have to pay attention to whether the person you’re hiring is a woman or a man. We’re looking for the best programming we can find, but we’re also explicitly trying to make deals with and grow female and diverse creators.”

Landgraf also touched on need for FX to maintain a strong “curatorial filter” as it looks to stand out among the myriad of other television offerings now available to consumers.

“I would just say those brands that remain a focused beacon of quality — HBO, credit to them, is managing to do that — and you see our reels, they become not more generic over time but less generic over time, much much more focused and specific as we’re trying to signal to the audience we’re trying to help you cut down the morass,” he said.

He followed up by saying that FX is “always trying to work with the artist who’s trying to excavate under the surface of story and under the surface of character.”

Landgraf also addressed the initial backlash against scheduling the new season of “America Crime Story” — which will delve into the impeachment of Bill Clinton — in the run up to the 2020 Presidential election. More on that can be read here.