FX Boss John Landgraf: "Diversity Is Good Business"

John Landgraf
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FX chief John Landgraf said Wednesday that the network has made strides in making its casts, writers rooms and roster of directors look more like the population as a whole — and that FX's programming is better because of that.

Landgraf also said that production on a host of FX shows, from Atlanta to Y: The Last Man, are scheduled to go back into production in the coming months.

Speaking during a virtual press day for the Disney-owned cable outlet, Landgraf said people of color are set to direct nearly half (46 percent) of episodes on FX Networks in 2021, and that women will direct 35 percent of episodes next year. The former figure represents a high for the network, which started to make a concerted effort to diversify its director pool in 2016.

"Truthfully, I'm not proud of fact it took me so long to take concerted action [on inclusiveness]," said Landgraf, noting that he's been running FX for 15 years. "It's heartening to see our industry fully commit to meaningful, measurable and permanent change."

He added that "when FX was radically over indexing in one race and gender, we were by definition overlooking talent. When we started looking for talent in every segment of our population, our shows got better. … When you're in the talent business, diversity is good business."

Writers rooms on FX series have also become more inclusive in recent years. Landgraf presented data showing that BIPOC comprise more than 40 percent of writers on series, and the same is true for women. On screen, there's an even split among men and women, and BIPOC make up 38 percent of lead and supporting roles on FX — in line with the U.S. population as a whole.

Like many other studios in Hollywood, FX has been plotting its way back into production after COVID forced an industry-wide shutdown. "After a great deal of work and in collaboration with our partners, we're finding safe ways of returning to work," said Landgraf. The outfit has been able to successfully do so on a few of its shows already. A Teacher, its upcoming limited series starring Kate Mara and Nick Robinson, completed four days of pick-ups with roughly 80 cast and crewmembers in Los Angeles in August. And the latest installment of Fargo, headlined by Chris Rock, just wrapped its season in Chicago on Tuesday. It had two episodes left when the pandemic hit the U.S.

FX is also in production on its second season of Breeders in the U.K. and is ramping up production other shows including Pose, Snowfall, Mayans, American Horror Story, Mr. Inbetween and Dave. New shows either completing or beginning production this fall include The Old Man, Y: The Last Man and American Crime Story: Impeachment. In addition, series slated to return to production in the first half of 2021 include Atlanta, Better Things and What We Do in the Shadows. 

"We're taking extraordinary measures to ensure everyone’s safety on our productions, and I'm grateful to the cast and crews of these shows for the level of seriousness they've given to health and safety measures while performing their already demanding jobs," said the exec. "We are absolutely steadfast that the health and safety of our talent and crews is our No. 1 priority."

As for Donald Glover’s Atlanta, Landgraf revealed that the upcoming third and forth seasons of the dramedy are already written in their entirety. “One unexpected boon from COVID-19 is that writers have had a lot of time to write,” he said. The exec revealed that one of the season will shoot primarily in Atlanta, while the other one will shoot mainly in Europe. The plan, he added, is to shoot them back-to-back — though the scheduled has already been pushed back due to COVID. “Heartbreakingly for me," he added, "because I love the show so much and always want it to be a part of the schedule.”