Programming

FX Networks Promotes Longtime Exec Team as Company Prepares to Expand

Following Landgraf's bump up to CEO, Grad, Schrier, Saftler get president posts; FXX orders first series 6/06/2013 02:26:00 PM Eastern

Updated 3 p.m. ET

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Following John Landgraf's promotion to CEO of FX Networks and FX
Productions and in anticipation of the company's September expansion to include
new young adult-aimed network FXX, longtime FX Networks execs Nick Grad, Eric
Schrier and Chuck Saftler each have been promoted to the position of president.

In addition, the company has ordered its first original
series for FXX, an animated comedy from the creative teams behind Eastbound
& Down
and Archer called Chozen. The series follows a gay
white rapper fresh out of prison with a new message and new skills, which he
will use in his quest for redemption and domination, according to the
company. 

Grad, Schrier and Saftler all will report to Landgraf, who
will oversee all aspects of entertainment and business operations for FX
Networks, made up of FX, Fox Movie Channel (now called FXM) and the
to-be-launched FXX. Landgraf also is in charge of FX Productions and FXNow, the
unit's video-on-demand app.

Grad and Schrier each will hold the title of president,
original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, where they will
oversee all original programming for FX, FXX and FXM, and head business and
entertainment operations for FX Productions, according to an announcement Thursday.
 

Saftler will serve as president of program strategy and
chief operating officer of FX Networks and will have oversight of programming
strategies including scheduling and acquisitions, program operations, business
operations, and digital operations for FX, FXX, FXM and FXNow, working in
conjunction with FX Digital Marketing. Saftler also will oversee specials
including awards shows and continue to have creative and business oversight of
10/90 series. 

Landgraf explained his philosophy for the new executive
structure, which is markedly different from other network groups that more
often assign a general manager to each network, during a press briefing in Los
Angeles Thursday. Landgraf said he "doesn't believe in those kinds of
structures," where one exec is put in charge of one network, saying he doesn't
want his staff's abilities limited to one network. Very few people working at
FX Networks will work on just one channel, he said.

One of the problems with creative organizations, when they
become large and bureaucratic, Landgraf said, is that the person engaging with creators
doesn't have authority -- "they're carrying a message for a person not in the
room." Under this structure, "these guys will have a lot of authority to make
key, important decisions," he said. "A lot of what this is about is pushing
creative authority down."

Landgraf said this is his idea for "how not to become a
factory" and to maintain a "boutique" culture where individual vision is
supported. "I thought a lot about how to structure this organization as it's
growing," Landgraf said.

All development will be done on a group level, the execs
said, with the home network -- FX, FXX or FXM -- to be determined during the
development process. The network brands are being distinguished largely by
demographics, with FX targeting 18-49-year-olds, FXX targeting 18-34 and FXM
25-54. Some movies will air on one, two or three of the channels but by and
large, originals will have a home network. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
The League, Legit and Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell
are being dedicated to FXX, along with Chozen, which is being targeted
for a first-quarter launch next year.

FXNow is slated to launch in November or December, Saftler
said at the briefing. It will be an authenticated service, offering live
streaming of the networks and on-demand content. Shows on FXNow will be made
available based on their home network. So for example, if a viewer doesn't get
FXX on their MVPD, they will not gain access to the shows on the app that are
based on FXX such as Sunny.

Grad previously served as executive VP of original
programming and development for FX. Schrier formerly held the position of
executive VP of FX Productions and head of series development for FX. Saftler
previously held the title of executive VP, FX Networks and general manager of
FXM (formerly Fox Movie Channel).

Grad joined FX as VP of series development in May 2002. He
developed FX's upcoming drama series The Bridge, as well as dramas The
Americans
, Justified, Terriers, Sons of Anarchy and Damages;
miniseries American Horror Story; comedies Archer, Louie,
The League and Wilfred; and late-night series Totally Biased
with W. Kamau Bell
. In 2011, he was named one of Broadcasting & Cable's Next Wave of Leaders.

Schrier joined FX in September 1999 as an assistant to
then-president of entertainment, Kevin Reilly, and rose quickly since. In his
most recent position as head of series development, Schrier developed The
Americans
, American Horror Story, Sons of Anarchy, Justified,
Terriers, Archer, Louie, The League and Wilfred.
His most recent projects include Legit, Totally Biased with W. Kamau
Bell
and The Bridge. Schrier also played an integral role the growth
of FX Productions, managing day-to-day operations for the studio. He also
was a key player in the inception and launch of FX Canada, the joint venture
network of FX Networks and Rogers Media.

Saftler has the longest tenure of any FX employee; he joined
the network in December 1993 as director of scheduling, seven months prior to
the launch of FX. In addition to being a member of the FX launch team, he also
helped launch Fox Movie Channel in its original incarnation in October 1994.
Saftler has been responsible for assembling the large FX Networks movie library,
which has the highest number of box-office hit films and the most commercial
television premieres of any network, according to FX. 

Saftler also is responsible for acquired television series
deals on FX including Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly and How
I Met Your Mother. 
Saftler negotiated the non-traditional first-run
and syndication deal for the Charlie Sheen-led Anger Management and Saint
George
starring George Lopez; Saftler also oversees creative on both
series. He oversaw FX's interests of all UFC properties including three seasons
of the reality competition series The Ultimate Fighter.

Chozen,
announced by Grad, is produced by FX Productions. Grant Dekernion serves as
writer and executive producer, and he will also be writing and rapping the
songs. Danny McBride, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green from Rough House
Pictures (Eastbound & Down) are executive producers. Adam Reed and
Matt Thompson of Floyd County Productions (Archer) are executive
producers and their company will animate the series. Although it's animated,
Grad said Chozen will be produced relatively quickly, taking about a
month to produce after a script is locked.

 

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