News Column

FX bulking up appeal with FXX, its 3rd channel

August 5, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 05--BEVERLY HILLS -- Success may not always breed more success in the television industry, but it does breed a certain level of courage and perhaps daring to expand your brand.

That's what FX is doing this year with the launch of a third channel in what FX Networks CEO John Landgraf calls its "suite" of cable offerings: FXX will join FXM, whose schedule is heavy with movies, and FX, the "mother ship" (again, Landgraf's term), to build on the channel's critical success and audience numbers.

Recognizing that no single channel can, or should be, all things to all people any more in TV, Landgraf described to the Television Critics Association the specific demographic mission of each of the three channels: "One is going to be a little bit more purely focused on young adults, so 16 to 34. One is going to be a little bit more focused on older adults. That's FXM, say, 25 to 60. And then we'll have our mother ship that's sort of adults 16 to 60."

Changing channels

To seed the new outlet, FX will move two of its comedy shows -- "The League" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"- to FXX. In addition, "Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell," which premiered last season as a weekly show on Thursdays, launches a five-nights-a-week second season on Sept. 4. In January, another sophomore FX comedy, "Legit," will join FXX. Also in January FXX will premiere a new animated series called "Chozen," created by Grant Dekernion, Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green, and animated by Adam Reed and Matt Thompson of Floyd County, who do FX's hit "Archer."

FX has had two big launches in the last year, "The Americans" and, more recently, "The Bridge." Other network stalwarts such as "Philadelphia," "The League," "Justified" and "American Horror Story" have performed well, as has "Sons of Anarchy," which will launch its penultimate sixth season Sept. 10.

Of course, Ryan Murphy's "American Horror Story" franchise is both a ratings and award winner. The new chapter in what is officially deemed a miniseries will be "American Horror Story: Coven," starring miniseries regulars Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, who will be joined by Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett when the show cranks up again in October.

What does filming in New Orleans bring to the show, the cast was asked?

"Humidity," Bates growled comically.

She also growled for real when she was asked about her last foray into series TV, "Harry's Law" on NBC.

A more pleasant stint

Without naming either the show or the network, she let go with both barrels, complaining that NBC "kicked us to the curb" and "treated us like s-."

Her experience on "AHS" is much more pleasant.

"Louie," which took a break when creator Louis C. K. needed to recharge his writer's engines, will return in May.

Landgraf conceded that the comedy "Wilfred," while growing creatively in its third season, didn't do well in the ratings because, he said, it premiered against the seventh game in the NBA Finals.

Billy Bob Thornton has been tapped to star as Lorne Malvo in a 10-part limited series based on the Coen brothers' film "Fargo." Written by former Bay Area resident Noah Hawley, the series will be an adaptation of the film but without a direct transfer of the central characters.

FX has two drama pilots in production, one from producers Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse called "The Strain" (based on the books series), with Corey Stoll and John Hurt, described as a horror series; and "Tyrant," about an American family swept up by internal politics in a Middle Eastern nation.

Landgraf said the channels' collective goal is to increase its number of original series from 13 to 25 over the next several years.

Those years will also inevitably see the end of some shows. "Sons of Anarchy," for example, has just two seasons left. It's probably valuable to urge fans of "Wilfred" to clap if they believe in bong-smoking Australian guys in dog suits, regardless of the NBA Finals.

David Wiegand is The San Francisco Chronicle's executive features editor and TV critic. E-mail: dwiegand@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @WaitWhat_TV

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(c)2013 the San Francisco Chronicle

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