“It’s the network that’s the only fit for Charlie,” said Michael Brochstein, Senior Vice President of Ad Sales at FX, to a group of journalists at Lucky Strike Lanes. He was referring to the once-troubled sitcom star Charlie Sheen, who’s coming to FX in a comedy, Anger Management, that will run for 100 episodes at a minimum so long as its first 10 hit ratings targets.
The previously announced Anger Management was one of a very few new shows FX was promoting (others included late night shows backed by the talent of Chris Rock and Russell Brand, and The Americans, a spy drama starring Keri Russell). The evening was more a celebration of a successful year than a presentation of new programming, as FX promoted its vast library of popular films–including the yet-to-be-released Battleship, Prometheus, Men in Black 3, and The Avengers–and the critical and commercial success of shows like Louie, American Horror Story, and Sons of Anarchy. “I want to take a bit of a victory lap,” said Lou Latorre, the president of ad sales, noting that it had been their top year for business ever.
One piece of news they didn’t announce: the curmudgeonly comedian Louis C.K. is bringing his web comedy special Live at the Beacon Theater to FX at an undisclosed time in the future. “What am I going to do, put it on Showtime?” he asked us. “I feel loyalty to FX. And they’re going to air it as a commercial, sort of, for the site [where fans can buy the special].
“FX will give me the leeway–you can say ‘shit’ and ‘asshole,’ and you can’t say that on Comedy Central. You just can’t say ‘fuck,’ and there aren’t that many ‘fucks’ in this.” He was interrupted by the actress Aisha Tyler, who thanked him for self-producing his special and selling it himself: “Everyone’s going to copy you now!” Indeed, Mr. C.K.’s success on the web had been seen as an epochal moment for comedians who wanted or needed to work outside the TV box.
John Landgraf, president of FX, confirmed the future airing of what had been a web-only special, noting, “It doesn’t qualify for an Emmy unless it airs.” As for the big media story of the cable scene–TBS’s success with reruns of The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Landgraf noted, “We tried to buy Big Bang, we tried to buy Modern Family [which was bought by USA]. We would have bought them for the right price.”
Mr. Brochstein was less sanguine. “Big Bang, they’re going to burn it out. If you don’t like Big Bang, you’re not watching TBS. It’s a frequency play.” As for a network that prides itself on premium movie content losing the rights for The Hunger Games to ABC Family, the ad sales chief told us: “It was stupid money they spent.”
Finally we asked: was Charlie Sheen, who’d missed the introduction of all the network’s stars (“I’m sure he’s en route,” said Mr. Landgraf at the time, and indeed he walked the red carpet last), ready to return to TV? “He’s ready like nobody’s business.”