Landgraf Lands Key Position at FX

Jan 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Former Jersey Television President John Landgraf is FX’s new head of original programming, the network has announced.
Mr. Landgraf filled a position that has been open since Labor Day, when former President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly left the basic-cable network to take the top development job at NBC. Mr. Landgraf will assume the job later this week.
Heading originals at FX-a job that includes oversight of movies, scripted series, miniseries, reality programs and live and special-event programming-will be crucial to the network as it tries to build on the momentum it has gained with such projects as “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck.” While FX looked for Mr. Reilly’s successor, the network’s senior programming executives-some of whom Mr. Reilly hired-were reporting directly to network president and CEO Peter Liguori.
Mr. Landgraf said he has no plans to change what he sees as a successful programming strategy, and he intends to maintain the current executive team Mr. Reilly put in place.
“There’s a luxury in this job, because I don’t have to figure out what they’re doing wrong and who’s responsible,” he said. “I have figured out what they’re doing right, how we can keep doing it and-to an extent-how I can help make it better.”
FX has a history of taking its time to choose programmers. When Mr. Reilly joined the network three years ago, the job had been open for months after Jeremiah Bosgang left his post as executive VP of development and production. Explaining the lengthy search, Mr. Liguori said, “When you’re waiting for the right bus, the longer you wait the righter the bus has to be.”
Mr. Landgraf said Mr. Liguori initially approached him “some time ago,” but he was too focused on producing ABC’s “Karen Sisco” and Comedy Central’s “Reno 911” to make a commitment.
“But we kept talking, and I really liked him,” Mr. Landgraf said. “And I started watching a number of episodes of `Nip/Tuck’ and `The Shield’ and got really excited about the possibility. I think I have a really good gut and intellectual understanding of what they’re going for.”
Other shows produced by Mr. Landgraf include the short-lived Fox series “The American Embassy,” “Against the Law” and NBC’s “UC: Undercover,” which ran one season. Mr. Liguori said Mr. Landgraf’s lack of hit productions is not a concern.
“In this business, what you’re looking for is somebody who takes good, intelligent shots,” he said. “The vagaries of what succeeds are mysterious to all of us.”
Mr. Landgraf said it was a hard decision to leave Jersey TV just as his productions were gaining ground, with Comedy Central picking up “Reno 911” for a second season and “Karen Sisco” getting a second rollout in March.
“Honestly, I really, really loved working with my partners,” he said. “I’m proud, really proud of shows we have on the air, and we have some great stuff in development. I genuinely love being a seller. But once I saw the programming and met the people at FX, it was just too great an opportunity to pass up.”
Before co-founding Jersey Television in 1999 Mr. Landgraf was VP of prime-time series for NBC entertainment, where he developed “The West Wing” and “Suddenly Susan.”
Since Mr. Reilly’s departure, FX has done well with the slate of shows he left behind, including “Nip/Tuck” and “The Shield,” but “Lucky” and “The Orlando Jones Show” have foundered. Last month, the network received three Golden Globe nominations. Sources report that FX’s advertising revenues, license fee revenues and cash flow are all up sharply this year.