FX orders 'Star Trek' spoof pilot

'Alabama' is from 'Reno 911!' makers; net also renews 'Louie'

FX is bolstering its comedy lineup, renewing freshman series "Louie" and ordering a pilot from the makers of "Reno 911" that plays like a "Star Trek" parody.

The announcements were made Tuesday at the Television Critics Assn.'s press tour, where FX had the longest presentation in the network's history, scheduling nearly a full day of panels.

Entertainment president John Landgraf announced the orders as part of the network's ongoing goal to expand its comedy slate. Landgraf said he hopes to boost the network's burgeoning original series lineup to include a dozen shows, including six to eight comedies.

After that, Landgraf predicted, the network will reach a saturation point, unable to expand further due to the marketing costs associated with promoting so many shows amid a cable landscape where primetime starts at 10 p.m.

"I don't really see much growth beyond that," Landgraf said.

"Louie," starring comedian Louie C.K., has been picked up for a 13-episode second season. The renewal comes about five weeks into the show's run, with the comedy performing fairly modestly -- averaging about 1 million viewers per week.

The pilot is a sci-fi show titled "Alabama" and is set a thousand years in the future. The show follows the crew of the space ship USS Alabama as they maintain interplanetary peace while going to hostile planets, meeting alien life-forms and trying "to have sex with each other in their tiny, metal bunk beds."

"Alabama" is created by and stars "Reno 911" veterans Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant and, just like their former Comedy Central series, will be part scripted and part improvised. Garant and Lennon are executive producers along with Peter Principato and Paul Young.

FX has already hit its goal to get on the comedy map, with veteran "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" steadily improving in the ratings and freshman animated series "Archer" becoming a surprise breakout. Along with "Louie" and "The League," the network has four functioning half-hour comedies.

Landgraf also said that, for actors, in recent years it has become more prestigious to land a cable show.

TCA 2010  
"It's become a status symbol for an actor to have a cable show," Landgraf said. "A lot of being a movie star is being in a latex costume in front of a greenscreen wearing guide-wires and learning to do karate."

Critics noted FX's paucity of Emmy nominations, and Landgraf noted that TV Academy favorite "Damages," which is shifting to DirecTV, is set in the upper echelons of elite Manhattan society, compared with the network's array of blue-collar protagonists.

"Emmys live in their own separate universe," he said. "We do the literature of the common man and common woman. ... I don't think there's a lesson in personal grooming to be taken from 'Sons.' ... Does that affect the Emmys? I don't know."

On another FX panel, "Sons of Anarchy" star Charlie Hunnam was far more blunt: "I personally was really happy," he said. "I don't subscribe to Emmys or awards or any of that. I think it's all a crock of shit."

Wrapping up the executive session, Landgraf noted, "I haven't said anything Tweet-worthy," then announced: "(Fox Networks Group entertainment chairman) Peter Rice told me I could deny that Steve McPherson is becoming a judge on 'American Idol.'"
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