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Friday, January 11, 2013
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Television Critics Association Winter 2013 Tour Developments: FOX/FX

By Carson Blackwelder
Television Contributor

The Television Critics Association’s 2013 winter tour is now underway. Rachel and Carson will be providing you with the important takeaways from each network’s presentations all week!

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The 2013 Television Critics Association kicked off Jan. 1 and already hosted NBC and cable networks, but it most recently featured Fox and FX.

This is the first of two yearly tours that the TCA hosts, bringing network executives, showrunners and actors face-to-face with entertainment journalists. Essentially, this is the time to flaunt what you’ve got. Big news can come out of these events, so here are the most recent developments:

Fox

1. The rise of the miniseries

Fox is developing a long-form series from film writer and director M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan will executive produce Wayward Pines, which will be a 10-to-12-part series set to debut in 2014. The program is based off of the novel Pines by Blake Crouch. The series will center around a Secret Service agent who investigates the disappearance of two colleagues in a mysterious Idaho town.

Fox also signed a development deal with The Pacific’s (HBO) Bruce C. McKenna for a series entitled Blood Brothers. The series will depict the true story of an 1861 military class that struggles to stay intact during the divisive Civil War.

Kevin Reilly, Fox’s entertainment chair, says he is optimistic about the network’s focus on shorter event series. “With top-notch auspices and feature-quality production plans, Wayward Pines and Blood Brothers represent exactly the kind of high-impact, 10-12-part events we set out to develop when we entered the limited series business,” Reilly says.

2. Realness from Reilly

Reilly is brutally honest about Fox’s performance this fall. ”We all screw up,” he notes. “Just look at my fall.”

This joke, at Fox’s own expense, is completely warranted, since Fox fell 24 percent in the ratings among the 18-49 demo. The network faced many problems, from The Mob Doctor being dead on arrival to The X Factor dropping nearly 25 percent. That’s not to even mention the low-performing Tuesday night comedy block, which includes New Girl, Raising Hope, The Mindy Project and Ben & Kate.

Reilly calls Tuesday night his biggest frustration because, whereas the shows don’t bring in many viewers, he’s pleased with the creative direction they’re taking.

Other notable judgements from Reilly include his praise of Britney Spears’ judging performance on The X Factor and reservations about The Goodwin Games’ potential performance.

But there’s a lot to be optimistic about at Fox. Season 12 of the hit series American Idol, with new judges Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey and Keith Urban, could perform well since it’s playing the diva card. The network also has the creepy crime drama The Following, starring Kevin Bacon, ready to premiere Jan. 21.

Here’s to hoping that springtime at Fox is brighter than the fall.

3. Glee‘s future

Reilly is also confident about Glee’s future, which has implications beyond just Fox.

The Fox executive says the network is already in talks to renew Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s musical dramedy, which is currently in its fourth season. Reilly notes this could happen prior to the upfronts in May, allowing Oxygen to go ahead with the third season of The Glee Project, the reality competition show in conjunction with Fox’s Glee.

With regard to a spinoff, Reilly is staying mum, only saying he would have to explore that direction with Murphy and Falchuk. However, he adds that the current dual-storyline structure of the show has been a success, calling it “seamless.”

“I do think if we can continue to follow a broad array of characters, it’s like life: You have relationships, you have friends — they go off, their lives go on, and you get together and maybe you maintain a friendship, maybe you lose distance,” Reilly says. “I think we can do that within this world of people you followed.”

FX

1. Bright futures for Anger Management and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

John Landgraf, president of FX Networks, expressed his confidence in the low-budget comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, saying that the show, which was already picked up for a ninth season, will most likely receive a 1oth. Of course, he notes, that is as long as fans keep tuning in and the writers have stories to tell.

Landgraf is also putting all of his apples into the Charlie Sheen basket. Anger Management will return Jan. 17 on FX and will launch into the rest of its 90 episodes. Landgraf says the half-hour comedy, which follows Charlie Goodson (Sheen) as he sees an anger management therapist, will run at 9 p.m. EST on Thursdays for two years. The show will remain similar to the already aired 10 episodes but will become more of a multigenerational family show, with Martin Sheen coming aboard to play Charlie’s father.

2. Landgraf addresses violence on TV

FX is home to some of the most violent TV series on air, with shows like Sons of Anarchy and The Shield inducing gasps week after week, and Landgraf has a few things to say about it.

Landgraf acknowledges the string of violent TV shows on-air, but he also blames the country’s attitude toward gun laws, specifically regarding to semi-automatic weapons.

He is quick to point out that all of FX’s TV-MA rated programs are scheduled in the 10 p.m. time slot, saying that a fraction of the audience for those shows — less than 5 percent — is younger than 18.

Landgraf also points out that the network’s new drama The Americans is more about husband-and-wife relationships, as it focuses on married Soviet agents in the U.S. during the Cold War.

The Americans is significantly less violent than American Horror Story,” he says. “It is ultimately a show about a marriage. It is not tailored in the way The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy are to appeal specifically to people in their 20s.”

3. Single male network seeks female viewers

It’s not entirely a surprise to hear that FX is a male-centric network, and Landgraf isn’t trying to hide that.

“Women are the primary target of drama producing networks, and have been for 50 or 60 years,” Landgraf says, also noting that women are therefore “not underserved.”

But Landgraf says he doesn’t want FX to be viewed as either an entirely male or female brand, but more as an asexual network like Showtime or HBO. He expresses hope that upcoming dramas The Americans and The Bridge, which will most likely get picked up, may have the right touch to bring in female viewers because the series have female leads: Keri Russell and Diane Kruger, respectively.

“I’m just getting a little tired of male anti-heroes, to tell you the truth,” Landgraf explains.

Stay tuned for more breaking TV news, and let us know what you think in the comments!

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