FX, which began the revolution of quality drama series in basic cable television, is attempting to achieve that goal in comedy. The network is upping its stake in comedy with commitments for two new series, The League and Louie, which join the hit series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the recently ordered animated series Archer on the FX comedy roster, announced John Landgraf, President and General Manager, FX Networks.
FX has ordered six episodes of The League, which is scheduled to premiere in November, and 13 episodes of Louie scheduled to debut in early 2010. Archer, which is receiving early critical praise, is tentatively scheduled to premiere in October. The fifth season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 10 PM ET/PT. All four series are produced by FX Productions.
Set against the backdrop of a Fantasy Football league The League, created by the husband-and-wife team of Jeff Schaffer (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld) and Jackie Marcus Schaffer (Disturbia), is a comedy about marriage, male friendship, parenting, suburbia, and growing up or refusing to grow up. The ensemble cast includes Mark Duplass, Steve Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Jon Lajoie, and Katie Aselton. Jeff and Jackie Schaffer serve as executive producers. The pilot was directed by Jeff Schaffer. The series is set in Chicago and will be shot in Los Angeles.
Louie, starring comedian Louis C.K., is comedy filtered through the observational humor of Louis C.K. and his daily life as a successful stand-up comedian and newly single father raising his two daughters in New York. His recent credits include Parks & Recreation and the Emmy nominated Showtime comedy special Chewed Up. Louis C.K. serves as executive producer, writer and director, and Dave Becky and 3 Arts are executive producers. The series will be shot in New York.
“All three of our comedy pilots met our highest expectation this year and we are incredibly happy with the execution of The League and Louie,” said Landgraf. “In picking up these two comedies to go with Sunny and Archer, we believe the time is right to establish comedy as a key component of the network’s slate of original programming alongside what is arguably the highest quality line-up of original drama series on cable television.”
With the pick-up of The League and Louie as well as Archer, FX will now have more comedy on its schedule than at anytime in its history. The four comedy series combined with five drama series Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Damages, Sons of Anarchy, and recently ordered Lawman give FX the most scripted original series of any basic cable network.
Archer and The League are likely to launch at some point behind the new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which runs for 12 weeks beginning on Sept. 17. The critically acclaimed Sunny has grown in each of its four seasons to become a hit comedy in basic cable, so much so that FX has ordered three additional seasons of the series. Season four averaged 3.3 million total viewers and 2.4 million Adults 18-49 weekly ranking #2 and #3 among Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-49 respectively versus all 2008 scripted half hour programs on cable. In addition to ratings growth, Sunny is consistently a top performing show on Hulu and iTunes, and has done extremely well in DVD sales and merchandise. On November 17, Fox Home Entertainment will release a never-before-seen, two-episode special “A Very Sunny Christmas.”
Beginning next month in a promotional push for the fifth season launch, the Sunny cast is taking their show live with the “Nightman Cometh Tour,” a musical stage/rock opera adaptation of the namesake episode from season four. The live tour kicks off Sept. 15 at the House of Blues in Boston, followed by New York’s Beacon Theater (Sept. 16), the Tower Theater in Philadelphia (Sept. 17), the Moore Theater in Seattle (Sept. 22), San Francisco’s Nob Hill Masonic Center (Sept. 24), and closing Sept. 25 at The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. All shows are sold out. The stars of Sunny are Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito. The series was created by McElhenney and is executive produced by McElhenney, Day, Howerton, Michael Rotenberg and Nick Frenkel.
Archer is an animated half-hour comedy set at ISIS, an international spy agency, where global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other. The series features the voices of Jon Benjamin as suave master spy “Sterling Archer,” whose less-than-masculine code name is “Duchess”; Jessica Walter as his domineering mother and boss, “Malory”; Aisha Tyler as his ex-girlfriend, “Agent Lana Kane”; Chris Parnell as ISIS comptroller and Lana’s new love interest, “Cyril Figgis”; and Judy Greer as Malory’s lovesick secretary, “Cheryl/Carol.” Archer was created by Adam Reed & Floyd County Productions.
FX’s revised fall line up is as follows:
Sons of Anarchy, Tuesday, September 8, 10 PM ET/PT (Season 2, 13 episodes)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Thursday, September 17, 10 PM ET/PT (Season 5, 12 episodes)
Archer, October, time and date TBD (6 episodes)
Nip/Tuck, Wednesday, October 14, 10 PM ET/PT (Season 6, 10 episodes)
The League, November, time and date TBD (6 episodes)