Look out, Comedy Central and IFC.
Watch it, Leno, Letterman, Kimmel and Conan.
FX officially is slicing right up the middle with its announcement today of an all-new comedy network/channel on cable, branded FXX — complete with a slew of renewals for its existing comedy series and an upgrade of late-night talker Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell to weeknights come September.
On Sept. 2, 2013, FX Networks will launch FXX in upward of 74 million homes (how? hold on a paragraph or two and I’ll explain) with programming that’s built around comedies (although the network’s release says not an all-comedy channel) targeting the 18-34 viewership demographic. It’ll then refocus FX on adults 49 and younger and expand its programming thusly. A third channel, FXM, is for movies — you’ve heard the in-house ad slogan, perhaps, “FX has the movies?” Yeah, that.
From FX President and GM John Landgraf: “We are embarking on an incredibly ambitious ramp-up of program development and production required to sustain these networks. I’m very confident that the pilots, projects and talent we have deals with will allow us to double our already best-in-class roster of scripted original series over the next several years. Our three-network platform will enable us to achieve even greater goals and solidify our position as a leader in quality scripted original programming.”
What’s on FXX, then?
For three things, It’s Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and Legit. Sunny’s ninth season and League’s fifth will premiere exclusively on FXX this fall, and both already are renewed through the following fall in 2014. FX also just re-upped Jim Jefferies’ Legit for a second season to bow on FXX (its rookie campaign continues with a new episode tonight on FX).
And W. Kamau Bell gets a promotion this fall to the big leagues of late-night TV with five nights a week come September on FXX — new episodes Mondays-Thursdays at 11 p.m. Eastern/Pacific and a best-of episode Sunday nights — with an order of “130 new original episodes.” A “final” weekly season of Totally Biased on FX returns Thursdays in May.
As the network’s promotional stats point out, Sunny topped all comers in cable last season outside of NFL games and Jersey Shore (which is no more), while The League‘s fantasy football antics also ranked second in its time slot behind only actual NFL action.
FXX plans to expand its lineup of originals to six scripted comedies by 2014. Its programming also will include original dramas for the kids (eventually), plus movies and repeats of syndicated series including Parks & Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Rescue Me, Arrested Development, Sports Night and Freaks & Geeks.
Where will you find FXX, though?
Most likely on the currently existing FOX Soccer Channel. Word is that fans of world football will find that action moving this summer to another new channel, FOX Sports, which in turn will be absorbing the channel currently known as SPEED.
As for the original FX, that channel on your cable dial will continue airing new and repeat episodes of Louie (fourth season due in May 2014), Archer (renewed for a fifth season) and Wilfred (third season due this summer), along with Charlie Sheen’s new show (Anger Management), his old show (Two and a Half Men), and in 2014, repeats of Mike and Molly.
And in related news from FX Networks…
FX has ordered a 10-episode limited run series adaptation of Fargo, following a different “true crime” with dark humor based in the upper Midwest (just as American Horror Story has tracked a different concept and story each season).
FX also has ordered two comedy pilots: How And Why from Academy Award winner Charlie Kaufman, about a nuclear reactor expert who is the opposite of expert at everything else; and Chozen from Grant Dekernion, Danny McBride and the team behind Eastbound & Down, an animated story about a white rapper, recently out of prison, with voices by Bobby Moynihan, Michael Pena, Hannibal Buress, Kathryn Hahn, Nick Swardson and Danny McBride.
Since you made it this far, how about a trip down memory lane with me and W. Kamau Bell, in this video interview we recorded in May 2010 during the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Ore.