‘Fargo’ Season 2 Will Have Ronald Reagan Character

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

FX Boss Teases ‘Fargo’ Season 2; Will Have Ronald Reagan Character.

FX has set April 9 as the premiere date for its Billy Crystal-Josh Gad comedy “The Comedians,” which will bow in tandem with the fifth season of “Louie.” At its Sunday presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour, FX also said it has ordered comedy pilot “Better Things” starring “Louie” player Pamela Adlon. “Louie” auteur Louis C.K. will co-write the comedy with Adlon and direct the pilot, which revolves around an actress trying to raise three daughters by herself. The second, 10-episode round will be set in the late ’70s against the backdrop of Reagan’s first campaign for president, FX CEO John Landgraf announced to TV critics Sunday.FX held its panel at the TCA Winter Press Tour on Sunday, and when it comes to talking about the upcoming third season of “The Americans,” network guru John Landgraf made one thing clear: Despite some weaker live ratings, he does not see the show getting canceled at any point in the near future. The first was that FXX — FX’s ratings challenged kid brother — saw its numbers jump 146 percent after adding exclusive cable reruns of The Simpsons.

After praising the network’s robust slate of shows and its 2014 Nielsen standing — FX rounded out the year the No. 4 network on cable, with four of the top 10 rated cable series — the famously erudite network chief showcased a pair of power-point slides, which broke down the networks by the number of critics’ 2014 top 10 lists that their programming appeared on. Reagan is a character in it, and some movies that he’s reputed to have made, but a lot of what it’s about is the cultural transformation that was going on in America at that time,” Landgraf explained. “So it’s about the sense of — that the war has come home, [Lou] Solverson is a [Vietnam] veteran, and it’s also about feminism, so there are some really significant female characters, as there were with Molly Solverson.” After the panel, Access spoke with Landgraf who said the show is casting a Ronald Reagan. The upcoming season, which will take us to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Luverne, Minnesota, follows a downer decade — the multiple assassinations in the ’60s, the Vietnam War, Watergate. As a caveat, Landgraf did insist that some of this will depend on “how good it remains,” and the ratings probably do need to maintain a certain level.

The point he made not with superlatives but with data: the rest, AMC, Netflix and Showtime, ranked well behind with 74, 67 and 62, respectively. “HBO and FX absolutely dominated the race for quality in television, and this shows at the moment that the race for the best in TV is really only a competition between two channels, with all the others way way behind the two leaders,” he said as a roomful of reporters took in the slides. He added, “I would submit if FX was previously considered part of a group of channels battling out for second place in a perceptual pecking order, the factual pecking order is now that HBO and FX are No. 1 and No. 2, and everyone else is in a pack battling it out for No. 3.” Speaking to the network’s anthologies such as American Horror Story and Fargo, Landgraf said that the current trend in miniseries is an extension of “the revolution in television that was sparked by David Chase and by The Sopranos.” In the 22-episode-a-season broadcast model, networks “could make some good shows, but eventually everything started to seem repetitive.” That model, he said, was broken by “sprawling, novelistic sort of shows” like The Sopranos and The Wire. He admitted to feeling somewhat bad still over canceling “The Bridge,” but commented that its decline in the numbers eventually reached the point where it was no longer feasible to keep the show around anymore.

FX previously announced that actor Patrick Wilson will play the younger Lou, the father of Molly (who was played by Allison Tolman in the first installment of “Fargo”). The story will focus on a small-town married couple, played by Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, who find themselves caught in the middle of a war between the last of the mom-and-pop crime syndicates and an out-of-town new corporate crime syndicate. The biggest thing, per Landgraf, that could help the show at this point would be if the Emmys finally decided to “take notice” of the show, and the performances of Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. What would help solidify the latter, however, would be stronger ratings and awards attention to match the series’ unanimous critical praise. “I sure would like the Emmys to step up and take notice, and I think that would be really helpful for the show,” he said form stage, noting that the Russian spy drama’s forthcoming third season is the best yet.

And while the ratings are a perennial disappointment, Landgraf reiterated that the series does lift the network’s creative standing: “We’re not really a channel that’s trying to be the highest-rated channel on television,” he added. “We’re trying as hard as we possibly can to be the best channel on television.” Landgraf acknowledged that he does have regrets about pulling the plug after the second season of the border drama, but the ratings were such that he had no choice. “It was a relentless downward trajectory,” he said, adding that while he can ignore ratings for a long time, if a series is still falling after 26 episodes he has to reconsider the space it’s taking up on the schedule. It is really hard sometimes to get them to pay attention to a lower-rated cable show, provided that it is not on a premium network like HBO or Showtime. There were other challenges, too, with Landgraf acknowledging that this was the first time the network had done a show based on a format and the series struggled to replicate the original iteration’s marriage of a border storyline with a serial killer one early on.

And the decision to do more will be in his hands as well, but Landgraf noted that his star does want to keep making the show after the forthcoming season, which bows in April. See, reappropriation of other networks’ programming — what FXX does with The Simpsons — is the whole reason those creatively acclaimed shows even exist.

In the interim, FX announced Sunday that it’ll air a C.K. stand-up special, which will come out of the comic’s currently sold-out comedy tour, and a Pamela Adlon pilot that C.K. will produce. But in the history of television, original programming has always been a long-term investment, losing money (often lots of it) in the early going and then hopefully, eventually recouping that investment. Original programming, meanwhile, requires new money spent on every single episode and eventually adds up to be far more expensive than those movies and reruns.

Eventually, the money the network sells in advertising for those reruns becomes almost pure profit — which is then funneled back into original programming development. So much of television right now is about building out brand names, about getting you to associate the name “FX” with “quality programming.” That was what Landgraf’s larger point about FX getting within spitting distance of HBO was all about. FXX paid so much money — $750 million — for The Simpsons because it knew this, and because The Simpsons was one of the few remaining cash cows without a cable deal.

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