FX Takes Another Shot at Comedy

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FX has green-lit two half-hour comedies that 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 during the summer. FX has ordered seven episodes each, which the network will produce in-house.

The network has also ordered a second season, seven episodes, of NASCAR Drivers: 360,the reality show that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday lives of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s top drivers.

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

With a few notable exceptions -- Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Dave Chappelle Show -- “the output of comedy on television has been anemic andweak,” he said during a recent interview.

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

Over the years, FX’s prior attempts at comedy -- most recently Lucky --have struck out with viewers.

Starved is about four friends in Brooklyn, three men and one 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, according to Landgraf.

“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, stagy form … Contemporary audiences are just more used to a one-camera form of storytelling. That’s what animation is. That’s what movies are.”

The new season of NASCAR Drivers: 360 will debut May 13, immediately following FX’s coverage of NASCAR Busch Series Racing from Richmond, Va.

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