Louis C.K.’s candid admission on Friday that he engaged in sexual misconduct with multiple women has seemingly brought the curtain down on his acclaimed career and his extensive associations with several top networks.
FX on Friday dealt the most crushing blow, following HBO and Netflix, which ended their deals with the comic after five women accused him in a New York Times report on Thursday of sexual harassment. C.K. released a lengthy statement Friday saying, “These stories are true.”
Executives for FX, where C.K. hit his most noteworthy creative stride in recent years with shows such as “Louie,” his fictionalized series about a single father who was also a comedian, “Better Things” and “Baskets,” said they were terminating his overall deal.
“Today, FX Networks and FX Productions are ending our association with Louis C.K.,” said the network in a statement. “We are canceling the overall deal between FX Productions and his production company, Pig Newton. He will no longer serve as executive producer or receive compensation on any of the four shows we were producing with him — ‘Better Things,’ ‘Baskets’, ‘One Mississippi’ and ‘The Cops.’”
Pamela Adlon, who stars in “Better Things,” which she co-created with C.K., said she was devastated by the developments.
"Hi. I’m here. I have to say something. It’s so important,” Adlon said in a statement. “My family and I are devastated and in shock after the admission of abhorrent behavior by my friend and partner, Louis C.K. I feel deep sorrow and empathy for the women who have come forward. I am asking for privacy at this time for myself and my family. I am processing and grieving and hope to say more as soon as I am able."
FX had initially been more cautious following the report, saying the situation was “under review.” But its stance changed with C.K.’s confession.
Now is not the time for him to make television shows.
“Louis has now confirmed the truth of the reports relating to the five women victimized by his misconduct, which we were unaware of previously,” the statement continued. “As far as we know, his behavior over the past eight years on all five series he has produced for FX Networks and/or FX Productions has been professional.
“However, now is not the time for him to make television shows. Now is the time for him to honestly address the women who have come forth to speak about their painful experiences, a process which he began today with his public statement. FX Networks and FX Productions remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure that all people work in an environment that is safe, respectful and fair, and we will continue our review of all of these productions to ensure that was and is the case.”
The reports of sexual misconduct placed FX in a particularly awkward position. “Louie,” “Better Things” and “Baskets” have become signature shows for the network, propelling its rise to one of cable’s elite venues. His FX shows established him as a uniquely frank and creative force, defining his brand of often uncomfortable comedy while also influencing a wave of other artists who developed projects based on their personal, and sometimes embarrassing, experiences.
(He had two other FX-produced shows on different platforms: “One Mississippi,” starring Tig Notaro, streams on Amazon; the animated “The Cops,” starring and co-created by C.K. and Albert Brooks, was scheduled to air next year on TBS.)
C.K. was also dropped Friday by his longtime publicist, Lewis Kay, and his management company, 3 Arts Entertainment.
Said 3 Arts in a statement: “We are committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment for our staff, clients and the community at large. We are doing a full internal review regarding this situation and are taking additional steps to strengthen our processes and procedures while engaging with our staff to address any concerns about harassment or abuse of power. This behavior is totally unacceptable in all circumstances and must be confronted and addressed.”
Those actions followed earlier moves by HBO and Netflix. The premium network on Thursday had removed C.K. from the lineup of the network’s live Nov. 18 special, “Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs.” His past projects for HBO, including his 2006 sitcom “Lucky Louie,” were also scrubbed from its On Demand services.
And Netflix announced it was not moving forward with a second stand-up special featuring C.K., citing his “unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues.”
Although much of the attention surrounding C.K. in recent months was due to the delicate and controversial nature of “I Love You, Daddy,” it’s his influential television projects — and particularly his FX shows — that established him during the last several years as a unique and personal comic voice who used his own life as a launch pad for his material.
His rise started in the mid-1990s, when he wrote and produced for several shows including HBO’s “The Chris Rock Show” and ABC’s failed “The Dana Carvey Show,” which also featured performer-writers Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert.
The comedian’s first major foray in establishing his brand on series TV came with “Lucky Louie,” which also marked his first significant partnership with longtime creative partner Adlon.
But it was “Louie,” which premiered on FX in 2010, that proved to be C.K.’s breakthrough. The series quickly became a critical darling and an Emmys favorite, and stands as one of the most influential shows of the last decade, inspiring a new wave of deeply personal, genre-bending, auteurist comedy written, produced and often directed by performers playing fictionalized versions of themselves. The success of “Louie” arguably paved the way for such shows as “Girls,” “Atlanta” and “Master of None.”
C.K. has also become a mentor to many writers and performers, and a champion of female voices in particular. He encouraged Notaro to release a stand-up set about her cancer treatment as an album, which he made available on his website. He later served as an executive producer on her series, “One Mississippi.”
When FX President John Landgraf was looking for a show featuring a female lead, C.K. suggested Adlon, and the pair co-created “Better Things,” in which Adlon mined her chaotic life as a single mother of three girls for comedy.
Gender politics also became a focal point of his comedy. In one of the most popular bits from his stand-up act, he wonders why women ever agree to go out on dates with men, given that “globally and historically, we’re the No. 1 cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them.”
As of Friday, C.K. said he was examining his actions. “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want,” C.K. concluded in his statement. “I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”