If FX thought groups like the Parents Television Council generated buzz from their criticism of The Shield, then the network should anticipate a new wave with the debut this week of Nip/Tuck.
TV writers — who viewed initial episodes of the series here last week — predicted it would be a lightning rod for critics, as well as too bloody and graphic for many viewers.
The series focuses on the not-so-private sex lives and public practices of two Miami plastic surgeons.
Writers, who viewed episodes at Paramount Studios, chortled at early surgeries such as repair of a botched breast enhancement. But the predominately male audience was reduced to uncomfortable muttering when a second episode ended with a teen attempting self-circumcision.
The tension in the theater was only broken when one man muttered "ouch," invoking nervous laughter.
FX CEO Peter Liguori stressed the network is trying to be responsible, tagging all radio, TV and print ads with the warning that the show is for adults. The show is also being televised after 10 p.m., he noted.
The network also made sure all potential advertisers viewed the show. FX learned from its experience with The Shield, which lost advertising from companies that bought run-of-schedule ads only to find themselves on a show to which they objected, Liguori noted.
Show creator Ryan Murphy said that the surgery is actually a small percentage of the show.
As for their graphic nature, Murphy said he believes the operations are "violent procedures" and he wanted to show the reality of surgery. As for the sex scenes, they portray the characters' vulnerability, he added.
As to other programming plans for the network, Liguori said FX would debut "Friday Night FX" on Aug. 1, rotating six unscripted shows on that night over seven weeks. If one "sticks" it will end up with its own time slot, he said.
The network is also producing a miniseries called The Grid, in partnership with the British Broadcasting Co. He described it as "the Traffik
of international terrorism," in reference to the U.K. network's award-winning miniseries. This mini will be filmed in four countries over six months, he said.
He also updated the status of the network's current series. The Shield
has been picked up for a third season, which will debut in January.
On the downside, the half-hour comedy Lucky
has been a ratings disappointment. Liguori said it has "production problems" that should be remedied within two weeks. (Still, Lucky
last week snagged an Emmy nomination for writing for the pilot episode.)
Liguori also briefly addressed the departure of network executive Kevin Reilly, who will head up NBC's primetime development.
"Kevin's hire [by NBC] was a testament to FX, but the network is bigger than one person," he said.