FX picks up two comedy series

'League,' 'Louie' join expanding slate of scripted fare

FX is making its biggest push yet into comedy with the pickup of two new half-hour series, "The League" and "Louie."

The two join the recently ordered animated comedy "Archer" and veteran "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" for a quartet of comedy series, the most in the network's history.

Overall, FX is expected to have at least 10 original scripted series on the air in the next year, more than any other basic-cable network.

"League," created and exec produced by Jeff Schaffer and Jackie Marcus Schaffer, explores marriage, male friendship, parenting, suburbia and growing up through the prism of a fantasy-football league. The series starring Mark Duplass, Steve Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Jon Lajoie and Katie Aselton will follow the progression of a league and is eyed to air during football season.

"Louie," written and directed by Louis CK, is set to debut early next year. Filtered through his observational humor, the series stars the comedian as a successful stand-up who is a newly single father in New York raising two daughters and dating. Luis CK is exec producing with 3 Arts' Dave Becky.

"League," "Louie" and "Archer" are being made in-house at FX Prods. under a low-cost production model the network first tested last year with the comedy "Testees." The network didn't order a second season of that show, but it marked a turning point in FX's comedy strategy.

"We didn't think it enhanced the brand qualitatively, but we figured out what we want to be about from a comedy standpoint, and we figured out how to do it efficiently," FX Networks president and GM John Landgraf said.

The network quietly put several half-hour projects in development and ordered three pilots: "Archer," "League" and "Louie." Landgraf said the intention was to pick up one to series, but the results exceeded expectations so much that the network ordered all three.

"I think some of them will mark the beginning of a new chapter for FX," he said. "It's time for us to claim a place in the comedy business."

On the drama side, FX recently picked up the contemporary Western "Lawman" to add to its roster that includes "Nip/Tuck," "Rescue Me," "Damages" and "Sons of Anarchy."

The network also tapped Warren Leight to join the drama project "Lights Out," make tweaks to the pilot and write two more scripts with creator Justin Zackham.

The final decision on "Lights" will be made after the network sees its other drama pilot, the Shawn Ryan-Ryan Griffin dramedy "Terriers," with Landgraf expecting to pick up at least one of the two to series within the next two months, bringing FX's original series total to 10-11.