Monday, June 24, 2013

Interview with FX President John Landgraf

I'm not a big fan of KCRW's The Business (imagine Entertainment Tonight trying to do Marketplace), but like most interview-based shows, the right subject can make it worth your time.

If you have any interest in the business of television, John Landgraf's segment is something you should check out. Landgraf is a smart guy playing the game at a very sophisticated level. Even when his decisions seem to turn out badly, you can see the sound business reasoning behind them.

The interview is about a year old but with the Netflix programming push a hot topic and the general matter of the economics of original programming getting so much attention, it seems like a good time to check in with someone who actually knows how to make money doing this.

Here's the blurb from KCRW:
President of FX, John Landgraf talks with Kim Masters about the unusually hands-off deal he made with comedian Louis CK for his show, Louie. Essentially FX wires him money and he sends them a show. There's virtually no oversight or input from the network. It's a deal that many in the industry envy but something that Landgraf says that not every creator could handle. 
Landgraf is no stranger to placing bets on shows, and a new show that he's hoping will pay off is Anger Management, starring Charlie Sheen. Landgraf tells Kim that he was prepared to pass on the show but was taken in by the pitch. He also outlines the deal points, which include an unusual arrangement where if the first season of ten episodes gets a certain ratings number then the show will be automatically renewed for 90 episodes. 
Finally, with hits like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchy and Justified, FX skews towards a guy audience. Landgraf talks with Kim about this and also about why he passed on Breaking Bad.

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