'Shield'-Bearing FX to Expand Slate

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Pasadena, Calif.— FX will expand its original programming soon, possibly by adding two new sitcoms and another hour-long drama to join the net's "toehold in original programming," The Shield.
Executives told the Television Critics Association last week that comedian Paul Reiser is developing a half-hour pilot for the network. A drama called Snitch
is also on the net's slate.

The executives showed only a brief but well-received clip from one show under development, the sitcom Lucky.
Sex and the City
veteran John Corbett will star in this comedy about a man who becomes a millionaire winning the World Series of Poker, only to lose it all. The clip demonstrated that the show will continue to push the taste envelope: As the Corbett character sits in a café discussing his money woes, a friend is visible in the background, repeatedly throwing himself on the hoods of passing cars to extort money from apologetic drivers.

PUMPING 'SHIELD'

FX did not dwell on the series-development slate, choosing instead to promote The Shield,
which is nominated for an Emmy Award in its first season. That gave critics a chance to badger the creative team about the on-going anti-Shield
campaign by the conservative Parents Television Council.

The group claims responsibility for getting such advertisers as Brinks Home Security, Cingular Wireless, the U.S. Navy and MasterCard to stop buying time on the show. The PTC objects to The Shield's violence, sexual content and language.

The day of the press conference, it issued another press release, claiming it had convinced Combe Inc., maker of Lanacane ointment and Just for Men hair color, to drop its advertising.

"This show is a show for adults. Ninety-seven percent of our audience is 18 and older … the audience is discerning," FX CEO Peter Liguori said.

"We should be a poster child" for the PTC, he added, apparently referring to the fact the group lobbies for the return of the television "Family Hour" from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Shield
is scheduled later in the evening where children are less likely to casually watch it.

WON'T ADD EPISODES

In taking questions from reporters, Liguori conceded that the conservative campaign might actually be a boon to the network. (Indeed, the PTC Web site gives the exact time and place the show is aired on cable and satellite.)

"I'd rather be ridiculed for a week than praised for a day," he said.

The network will also resist leveraging the series' popularity by expanding the season to 22 episodes. The production schedule will stay at 13 or 14 episodes, said FX president of entertainment Kevin Reilly.

A longer schedule would dilute the quality of the show, he said.

The network is also sticking to its schedule of four original films per year. The next production, set to run Aug. 25, is RFK.
The Robert Kennedy biopic is based on material from Kennedy family insider Richard Goodwin and features English actor Linus Roache (The Gathering Storm)
in the title role, with James Cromwell (Babe) as Lyndon Johnson.

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