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FX Shuffles Deck as It Prepares Spinoff Launch

Three upped to president; FXX makes first series pickup

As FX Networks prepares to launch a new standalone comedy channel, CEO John Landgraf has elevated three of his lieutenants to the rank of president.

FX veterans Nick Grad and Eric Schrier were each appointed president, original programming for FX Networks and the in-house studio arm, FX Productions, while evp Chuck Saftler was upped to president of program strategy and chief operating officer.

Grad previously served as evp of original programming and development for FX, while Schrier was evp of FX productions and head of series development for FX. Their résumés are frankly astonishing—among the hits they’ve developed for the network are the dramas Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Americans and American Horror Story, as well as the comedies Archer, Louie and The League.

Grad and Schrier also developed the upcoming FX original series The Bridge. The Demián Bichir-Diane Kruger border drama bows Wednesday, July 10.

In their new roles, Grad and Schrier will oversee all original programming for FX, the nascent comedy spinoff FXX and FXM, the channel formerly known as FX Movie Network. They will also spearhead all business and entertainment operations for FX Productions.

Saftler has the longest tenure of any FX employee, having joined the network in December 1993 as director of scheduling, seven months prior to the launch of FX. (When FX bowed on June 1, 1994, its signature series was the live morning chat show Breakfast Time. Based on the popular British show The Big Breakfast, the FX daily was hosted by Tom Bergeron and a puppet named "Bob."

Saftler assembled FX’s movie library and is in charge of off-net acquisitions (Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, Mike & Molly). He also assembled the first-run/syndication deal that brought Charlie Sheen back to television (Anger Management) and oversaw FX’s interests in the UFC.

“Nick, Eric and Chuck have been involved in every facet of FX’s success over the past decade,” Landgraf said. “It is only appropriate to see them each take on more responsibility as we pursue an ambitious expansion of our channels, programming and distribution platforms.”

After serving as president and general manager of FX for the past nine years, Landgraf on Wednesday was promoted to chief executive officer of the entire operation. “While it is hard at times to step back from some of the day to day creative dialogues I love so much, it makes it easier when trusted colleagues and long-time partners are stepping up,” Landgraf said. “It is my honor to work with them.”

FXX will target the 18-34 demo, while the flagship net will continue super-serving the 18-49 set. On Thursday, Landgraf announced that FXX had made its first original series pickup, ordering the Danny McBride-produced animated strip Chozen.

“This is the perfect first series order for FXX,” said Grad. “Chozen is an outrageous and ballsy comedy, but it’s also a very smart examination of the rap culture.” As the network describes it, Chozen is a comedy about a gay white rapper recently released from prison who uses his newly-developed survival skills in his quest for redemption.

FXX will launch on Sept. 2.

FX closed out the first quarter of 2013 ranked fifth among the dollar demo, boasting a nightly draw of 913,000 viewers 18-49. That marked an improvement of 16 percent versus the year-ago period.

Under Landgraf, FX has produced some of the most critically acclaimed original cable series of all time. At the same time, the network has become a veritable cash cow. Per SNL Kagan estimates, FX last year generated some $503.2 million in ad revenue, making it the fourth biggest earner in its competitive set and growing 87 percent since 2006.

In that same span, FX’s affiliate revenue has jumped from 35 cents per subscriber per month to 48 cents—nearly double the industry average. With some 98.2 million subscribers, the network last year took in around $565.6 million in carriage fees.

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