FX Building a Comedy Block


Los Angeles— FX has green-lit two half-hour comedies it plans to use as the base for a new primetime comedy block.

The shows, Starved and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, are expected to premiere in the summer.

FX has ordered seven episodes each of the shows, which the network will produce in-house.

Also on order is a second seven-episode season of NASCAR Drivers: 360, the reality show that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday lives of the top stock-car drivers.

FX, which has built its brand with cutting-edge dramas like The Shield, sees an opening for itself in the comedy arena, according to FX president of entertainment John Landgraf.

With a few notable exceptions — Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Everybody Loves Raymond and Chappelle’s Show— “the output of comedy on television has been anemic and weak,” Landgraf said during a recent interview.

“All the other comedy brands on basic cable are adult 18-to-34 brands — Comedy Central, MTV, VH1,” he said. “There is no adult brand of comedy, 18-to-49 adult-skewing brand of comedy on basic cable. … So therefore, I think there’s an opportunity there for a brand that does not exist.”

FX’s prior attempts at comedy over the years, the most recent of which was Lucky, have struck out with viewers.

Starved is about four friends in Brooklyn, three men and a woman, who suffer from various kinds of eating disorders. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is about a several friends who run a bar.

FX chose from four comedy pilots, including a sketch comedy show with Jamie Foxx.

FX is tackling character-driven comedies, and only one-camera shows, rather than four-camera sitcoms, Landgraf said.

“I’ve worked on some very good sitcoms myself,” he said. “But I think the form — you can draw a line from vaudeville to theater to the situation comedies that evolved on television in the ’40s, ’50s — and it’s a kind of artificial, stagey form. … Contemporary audiences are just more used to a one-camera form of storytelling. That’s what animation is. That’s what movies are.”