At an upfront presentation for reporters Wednesday in New York, FX Networks Chief Executive John Landgraf outlined an ambitious slate of programming for FX and its recently launched offshoot FXX, promising that 2014 would be the "biggest year ever" for the cable outlets.
Over the coming months, the number of scripted original series across the two networks would increase from 11 to 20. The expansion begins April 15 on FX with the 10-episode limited series "Fargo," based on Joel and Ethan Coen's acclaimed film and starring Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Bob Odenkirk.
The "bravely original" Middle Eastern drama "Tyrant," from "Homeland" producer Howard Gordon, will premiere in late June on FX.
"The Strain," based on novels by filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, debuts in July and, Landgraf promised, "will redefine the vampire genre."
On the comedy side at FX, "The Partnership" with Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence is slated to debut this summer while "The Comedians," with Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, arrives in early 2015. The as-yet untitled Tracy Morgan project, from the creators of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," hits FXX in January.
Touting 4% growth among female viewers, Landgraf said both networks are working "diligently to expand our offerings and our brand appeal to women" while also developing more premium comedies in the vein of "Louie." To that end, in June, FX will debut "You're the Worst," which centers on a pair of "toxic, self-destructive" people trying to forge a functional relationship, and "Married," which follows a husband and wife struggling with the demands of child-rearing and a flagging sex life.
In August, all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons," acquired in a landmark deal brokered last year for FXX and the companion mobile viewing service FXNOW, will air in a record 12-day marathon to launch the long-running series' first run on cable. Also in the works is a new app and site that will delight "Simpsons" fanatics. "Think of it as a comprehensive, beautifully curated digital library of all things 'Simpsons,' " Landgraf said. "I’m absolutely blown away by what I’ve seen. This could well be the best app I have ever seen.”
After a long hiatus, the critically beloved "Louie" will return on May 5 for an expanded 14-episode season that Landgraf described as "amazing." As for the similarly acclaimed spy drama "The Americans," Landgraf said a formal third season announcement was expected soon.
Other returning shows on the network include "The Bridge" (July), "Archer" (January) and the final seasons of "Sons of Anarchy" (September) and "Justified" (January)
Returning to FXX are "The League" (September), "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (January) and the final season of "Wilfred" (summer).
In the old-but-also-new category is "American Horror Story: Freak Show," the latest incarnation of Ryan Murphy's inventive anthology series, which launches in October and will star Michael Chiklis, star of FX's landmark program, "The Shield."
The fates of "Legit" and "Chozen" have not yet been decided, though Landgraf expressed support for both.