On Tuesday, June 20, the West Coast branch of the Museum of Television and Radio, located in Beverly Hills, presented the season's last Industry Forum luncheon, a chance for agents, executives, journalists, producers and other entertainment industry professionals to network and hear from leaders in the field.
The speaker was John Landgraf, president and general manager for FX Network. He talked about the cablenet's reputation for groundbreaking programming, illustrated by clips from the comedy "It's Always Sunny inPhiladelphia," about to begin its second season on June 29, and the dramas "The Shield," "Nip/Tuck" and "Rescue Me."
Not mentioned were such less-successful recent FX efforts as "OverThere" and "Thief."
But, Landgraf did talk about the comedy "Starved," which premiered in tandem with "Sunny" last year. Saying that his network has learned to launch one show at a time, Landgraf explained the difficulty of choosing between the two comedies for a second season. He said that it was his confidence in "Sunny" stars and creators Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton that ultimately tipped the scales.
So far, he seems to have chosen well, since Danny DeVito -- a friend and former business associate of Landgraf's -- has chosen "Sunny" for his return to series television.
Citing "All in the Family" and "Hill Street Blues" as his inspirations for getting into the television business, Landgraf lauded both shows' "guts" and the willingness of the creators to offend some in the audience in the interest of telling an original and compelling story.
Landgraf said one criterion for FX in choosing pilots is the question of whether they'll be talked about in 20 years time -- as "All" and "Hill" both are.
He also emphasized how the networks' dramas differ from broadcast fare and each other, while still being part of the FX brand.
Because FX is on basic cable -- and airs its adult-content shows after10 p.m. Eastern -- Landgraf pointed out that the network hasn't suffered in a business sense from outside pressure groups or the FCC's regulatory scheme. But he said he is concerned about the possibility that the same standards used for the broadcast networks might one day come to cable, saying it would have a "chilling effect."
But, he added, FX has broadcast standards of its own which discourage gratuitous content, saying, "We cut a lot out."
In an unusual move, FX picked up "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" after seeing a pilot shot by the three creators on digital video for about $200. In talking about FX's recent contest with users atMySpace.com to create short, original comedy pilots, Landgraf said that the network is still searching for the next great single-camera comedy.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times