FX has had a very busy day today here at press tour, with panels for "Louie," talk shows involving Russell Brand and W. Kumau Bell, and the new comedy "Legit." I'm going to live-blog the day's final panel, featuring Kurt Sutter and the actors of "Sons of Anarchy." The motorcycle club drama's fifth season debuts on Tuesday, September 11 at 10 p.m.
Latest Blog Posts
Among the announcements made during FX president John Landgraf's press tour executive session was the decision by the network to order a fourth season of "Louie."
The network also ordered an additional seven episodes of Russell Brand's talk show "BrandX," to debut in the fall. Landgraf said there would be creative changes to the series, which will be paneled later today at press tour.
Though ratings for "Louie" have never been enormous, it's done very well in critical acclaim and Emmy nominations, and the deal FX has with Louis C.K. — he gets a drastically smaller budget than a normal cable comedy in exchange for complete creative control — makes financial sense for the network.
During the panel, I asked Landgraf if he would like to cut a "Louie"-style deal with another creator. He said he would love to, and has even had inquiries about it from the Hollywood community, but the problem so far is in finding someone who can do all the jobs C.K. does, since he stars, writes, directs, works on the music and, until this season, did all the editing. He cited "Legit," an upcoming FX sitcom starring Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, where Jefferies does some writing, but needed help from a pair of other veteran comedy producers.
BEVERLY HILLS - Because FX is always good at filling our Television Critics Association press tour days with news and content, I'm always happy to treat John Landgraf's executive sessions the same way I would treat a network executive session. I can't say the same for most cable execs.
Click through to see what Landgraf had to say about the network's Charlie Sheen experiment and any other topics of relevant conversation...
8:32 a.m. As previously announced, "Sons of Anarchy" will return on September 11. "American Horror Story," "The League" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" will be back in October.
8:32 a.m. Landgraf is happy with the network's recent performance. Everything is up.
8:33 a.m. FX isn't going to make a decision on the back-90 for "Anger Management." But if the Back-90 is picked up, Martin Sheen will join the cast as a regular.
8:34 a.m. "Louie" has been renewed for a fourth season. WOOT! No announcement on "Wilfred" but Landgraf is "very optimistic." There's also no pickup for "The Americans," starring Keri Russell, but he's positive on the pilot.
8:35 a.m. FX is ordering a pilot for "The Bridge" based on the Danish format.
8:36 a.m. FX has also ordered seven more episodes of "BrandX with Russell Brand" to premiere in the fall along with "Sunny" and "The League." Landgraf is happy with the show's creative growth, but he promises there will be creative changes.
8:37 a.m. Lastly: Landgraf wants the producers of streaming shows to come up with a meaningful apples-to-apples way of announcing the show's ratings. He wants "fair benchmarking." Heh. Landgraf wants to go to war with Netflix.
8:39 a.m. Landgraf stands by calling "American Horror Story" a miniseries. "No, I wasn't surprised," he says of the categorization. He tells us what we already knew: The second season of "AHS" takes place in the '60s in New England at a sanitarium run by the Catholic Church. He calls it "unbelievably scary."
8:40 a.m. Landgraf thinks "Wilfred" has "a many-year future on the network." They still have some "deal issues to work out." Regarding "Justified," he predicts a run of "at minimum six seasons."
8:41 a.m. He would love to find another Louis C.K. to do a "Louie"-esque shows. The network has gotten calls from a number of people thinking they could do something similar. He references that Jim Jeffries of "Legit" is a writer and actor, but he's not a filmmaker, so they have a team of three people doing the job that Louis CK does by himself. "'Louie' is great because Louis is great, but it's also great because it's a completely unvarnished show," he says.
8:43 a.m. What's the story with "Powers"? Chick Eglee is still doing the rewrite and he's written future episodes as well with a staff. If they elect to move forward, they'll start from scratch. "I think there's a possibility that some original cast members may return," Landgraf says, referencing that Jason Patric wants to look at those future scripts.
8:44 a.m. FX is hoping to launch two more dramas in the next year and he hopes the network can get to six or seven dramas on the air. The network's goal has been to concentrate on comedy for a couple years. "Now we're turning back to drama. I'm excited about that," he says. Currently FX only has three dramas. So... That's a lot of work. The late-night business is also a priority, though it will take "patience and stead-fastness."
8:46 a.m. FX has a big war-chest for theatrical releases and off-network pick-ups, but the network wants to be "masters of our own fate," rather than bidding up the cost on networks. It's easier to be masters with movies than with off-network shows.
8:50 a.m. Is Landgraf happy with "Anger Managment" creatively? And why isn't FX picking up the back-90 now? Landgraf says that he is, indeed, happy with the creative direction of the show. He's excited that Martin Sheen's addition will make it "a multi-generational family show." He promises "Anger Management" will still deal with Charlie's relationships and his patients. "As with any comedy, I think it has more growth in it creatively," he says. He knows that we didn't love it, but he thinks our mistake was in comparing it to other FX comedies. "But with due respect, I think it's fair comparison is really to 'Two and a Half Men' and 'Two Broke Girls' and 'Mike & Molly' and other multi-camera shows," he says. The lack of pickup is based on FX's conservative nature. He calls the odds "overwhelming" that it will be renewed.
8:53 a.m. FX is really unhappy with the numbers Netflix is giving people. "Look, Netflix could tell you how many people watch each episode of 'Lillyhammer' if they wanted to," Landgraf argues. "They have more data than we do," Landgraf says. He wants us to demand "apples to apples" comparison to find out how many people watched shows in their totality on average. "There's a little bit fuzziness in the math of some of what's going on," Landgraf gripes, saying that if Netflix and Hulu are going to be at TCA, they should be giving us real numbers.
8:55 a.m. "I don't know if there is a better way... I wish there were a better way," Landgraf says of ways to prevent the recent DirecTV fracas. He observes that 95 percent of the time, the system doesn't break down, but sometimes it does.
8:58 a.m. A reporter points out that Netflix isn't in an apples-to-apples business with FX. Landgraf reframes it by saying that we should want accurate ratings as a service to our readers. He thinks it helps us. He keeps insisting he has enormous respect for Netflix, but he has no idea how many people watch pieces of Netflix programming. "They have a different business model, but there's something in common to everybody's business model, which is that we all want to develop hit programming." Landgraf says.
9:01 a.m. Has FX had situations where they felt that creative freedom went too far? Landgraf says he's had big fights with Ryan Murphy on "Nip/Tuck." He says he's not going to substitute his taste or aesthetic judgment for that of the showrunner. He also says he had massive fights with the "Rescue Me" on the controversial rape and admits that seven years on, today, he might specifically prevent the "Rescue Me" guys from doing that scene. He references at least one "Louie" episode that had to be trimmed. "We just have this inherent inclination towards letting people make their shows," he says. He wants FX shows to feel hand-crafted, rather than like something from a factory or IKEA.
9:06 a.m. Landgraf thinks that FX could get to 20 original shows plausibly, but the network has no aspiration to fill primetime with all-owned-and-original programming.
9:07 a.m. Why don't Emmy voters like "Sons of Anarchy"? "The show is grungy and blue collar and violent and profane sometimes, although you might say that 'Breaking Bad' has those qualities too. I just think Emmy voters don't like it that much," Landgraf says. "I don't see the Emmys, at this point, giving it any recognition."
9:08 a.m. Landgraf wants to have programming to have balance between comedy. Comedy is cheaper. We know this. He references the "arms race" to make expensive dramas on cable, with HBO shows like "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire" leading the way. FX dramas are losing money on an advertising basis. "I want us to always be active in both genres," he says.
That's all, folks...
At some point, someone will write the history of this modern "comedy of the uncomfortable," and when they do, I hope they devote an entire chapter to "Klown."
It's been strange watching Drafthouse Films come into focus as a distributor simply because of how long I've known Tim League, and how clearly we're seeing his tastes reflected in the film that they're picking up for release. The reason I'm enjoying their work as distributors is the same reason I enjoy their work as exhibitors. They have a fearlessness that I admire, and any company that would put films like "Four Lions," "Bullhead," and "Klown" is a company that I'm willing to trust implicitly.
"Klown" is a feature film version of a Danish comedy series by Mikkel Norgaard, Casper Christensen, and Frank Hvam, and while I've never seen the series, that didn't affect my ability to enjoy the film completely. It's self-contained and works as a stand-alone story. I'm curious to see the show now, especially since it looks like Drafthouse Films is going to be distributing the series on DVD in the US. The film tells the story of Casper and Frank, friends who have a canoe trip planned, and Casper views the trip as an excuse to get laid, with a stop along the way planned for a one-in-a-lifetime brothel that is run by a friend of theirs.
Whether it’s summer doldrums or the focus on the Olympics, album sales fall off a cliff on next week’s Billboard 200.
With a few day left to go before Nielsen SoundScan’s tally closes Sunday night, this week’s No. 1, Nas’s “Life Is Good” and last week’s chart topper, Zac Brown Band’s “Unchanged” are too close to call for the pole position. Either way, neither one is selling more than 50,000, according to Hits Daily Double, which will mean that whoever is No. 1 next week holds the dubious distinction of the lowest total so far in 2012 for a No. 1.
There are only two bows in the Top 10. Gaslight Anthem’s major label debut, “Handwritten,” could come in as high at No. 3 or as low as No. 5: right now, “Handwritten,” Kidz Bop Kids’ “Kidz Bop 22,” and Justin Bieber’s “Believe” are all looking like they will move between 35,000-40,000 units each.
The other debut belongs to Passion Pit’s “Gossamer,” which will likely launch at No. 9 on sales of up to 32,000.
Just as the top 5 are too close to call, the same goes for No. 6-8. One Direction’s “Up All Night,” Adele’s “21,” and Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” are all trending toward sales of between 30,000-35,000.
Likely to land at No. 10 is Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” with sales of 24,000-27,000.
So if anyone’s paying close attention: If the No. 1 title sells on the low end of the projection at 45,000 and Maroon 5 sells at the high end for No. 10 at 27,000, that means only 18,000 units separate No. 1 from No. 10. I cannot imagine another scenario where that has ever been the case.
When I ran into "Modern Family" co-creator Steve Levitan early at ABC's press tour party, he seemed very relaxed and happy for a man whose show was in the middle of a very public salary dispute between his six adult stars and the studio that pays their salaries.
So how many times have we felt like we were on stable ground discussing Richard Gere's place in an awards season? A handful? He deserved some real consideration for "Days of Heaven" way back when, no doubt. He was surrounded by lauded performers in "An Officer and a Gentleman." Flirted with the Globes for "Pretty Woman" and "Chicago" (netting a SAG nod, too, for the latter).
The last time his name popped up was for Lasse Hallström's "The Hoax," in which he offered up typically solid work. "Solid" is really a pretty decent descriptor of Gere's contribution to the screen all these years, I'd say. And every once in a while, he turns out something a bit more special.
I think "Arbitrage" is one of those special moments for him. The film played Sundance back in January to generally positive response and Gere was spotlighted, of course. But the more I chew on it after a recent screening, the more I think it might be on the top tier of the actor's work to date.
Reba McEntire is returning to network TV with a new ABC sitcom, "Malibu Country," which follows an aging country star as she tries to resuscitate her career after leaving her cheating husband. For McEntire, her character's struggle to remain relevant in the music world after 40 (McEntire is 57) rang true. "I think [ageism] is a problem and it is hard to stay on the radio… the regime has changed drastically in this last year." Ironically, she's turning to the notoriously ageist arena of Hollywood for help. She's "doing the television show, staying out there in front of the audience, keep the fans coming from music to TV" to remain in the spotlight.
Scotty McCreery fans can expect a little Christmas cheer from the Season 10 “American Idol” champ this year.
Though it’s sweltering in Nashville, McCreery has been getting his holiday spirit on and is recording a Christmas album. Though his label, Mercury Nashville, has been mum on the subject, McCreery spilled the beans on Thursday when he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Santa cap and wrote, “Well, it’s still 90 some degrees outside, but it’s Christmas in July here in the studio.”
Though the tweet has since come down, Aceshowbiz.com reported that singer/songwriter Nick Autry had tweeted that all the Christmas decorations to make McCreery feel festive in the studio were now stored in his office. Further proof!
Hitfix has confirmed with a source that the album is definitely coming. More details soon. Ho ho ho.
HGTV "Design Star" competitor Danielle Colding didn't waste any time after winning the competition series. She already has a new show in the works and spoke to HitFix about her time on the show, why African Americans are underrepresented in design television and what her toughest challenge was.
Well, we’re just glad Alanis Morissette didn’t pick “Legend of the Guardians” as the inspiration for her new video for “Guardian,” the first single off her new album, “Havoc and Bright Lights,” out July 31.
[More after the jump...]
"The Master" has decided to arrive earlier than planned.
Paul Thomas Anderson's highly anticipated drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams was originally set for an Oct. 12, 2012 limited release. Anderson and The Weinstein Company (the distributor for the independently produced feature) have now changed their strategy and are opening in limited release on Sept. 14 with subsequent expansions the following weeks.