FX optimistic about new series

Net shooting six projects this year, Landgraf says

FX chief John Landgraf said the network is developing more pilots than ever and expects to make decisions in the coming weeks that will help replace vacancies left by "The Shield" and "Nip/Tuck."

"We have in production more pilots than at any time in our history," Landgraf told critics Friday at the TCA press tour, noting there are six projects being shot this year.

They include a low-budget comedy with Louis C.K.; the hourlong comedy "Terriers" from "The Shield" creator Shawn Ryan and "Ocean's Eleven" writer Ted Griffin; and Phillip Noyce's drama "Lights Out." Along with the promising just-greenlighted "Lawman," starring Timothy Olyphant as a modern-day U.S. marshal, Landgraf hopes to create a new wave of edgy, adult fare at a time when more cable networks than ever are competing to launch grown-up dramas.

"It's flattering, in a way that every network has chased after the strategy pioneered by FX," Landgraf said, noting efforts by AMC and USA. "We will continue to try and take big risks and continue to make shows for adults."

When one critic suggested AMC had surpassed FX as the hub for darker, adult-oriented scripted programming, Landgraf said, "Well, we now know how HBO feels."

But Landgraf pointed out that AMC and Showtime will be challenged to continue to develop significant amounts of quality programming while maintaining the presumably growing budgets of successful veterans. By losing such older veterans as "Shield" and "Nip/Tuck," "to me that represents an opportunity to have an active development slate."

A couple critics took issue with FX's violence and wondered whether the network -- in an effort to stay on brand -- might be missing out on quality projects. FX has never aired a series that wasn't TVMA.

"Violence is not a part of our business plan," Landgraf said, pointing to "The Riches." "We're not rejecting programming because it's not violent or sexual. If we had programming that wasn't TVMA that was on brand, we'd absolutely make it."

That said, "you have to be who you are," he added.

Also, with regard to the struggling "Damages," Landgraf said he was unhappy with the numbers for the acclaimed series.

"I was plainly disappointed with the ratings last year," he said. "It's a really demanding show. That type of programming doesn't suit the current programing environment. Viewers are more interested in dating than marriage."

When asked about Landgraf's comments, showrunner Todd Kessler said, "We'd love for more people to be watching the show. We don't try to second guess what may get more ratings."
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