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Louis C.K. Puts FX Show on Hiatus

Like The Sopranos and Mad Men before it, Louie takes a creative break

Louis C.K. Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

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After writing/producing/editing/scoring and starring in three seasons and 39 episodes of his Emmy-winning FX series, Louis C.K. is taking an extended hiatus from the show.

The comic auteur announced his decision this afternoon, saying that he hoped to carve out some more time to make Louie “better.” As such, instead of returning next summer for a fourth season, Louie is expected to make it back to the screen in the spring of 2014. 

“I want season four to go somewhere new, even if it’s just a small degree of shift,” Louis C.K. told reporters. “The last three seasons have just been this surge of fun and work and stories and it’s been great, but I want the show to keep getting better. I don’t want it to be making the donuts, I want it to be something that comes from somewhere important and stays funny.”

The bonus lead time will allow the comedian to create a new map for the show, although he was understandably averse to revealing much about how season four may differ from what’s come before it. Louis did say that he was drawn to the trilogy structure.

“Pie in the sky, say the show goes nine seasons, then seasons four, five and six would be the second part of the trilogy,” he said.

Given that he does everything but man Louie’s craft services table, the revised production schedule should give Louis more time to focus on his writing. “I just think I can do better work if I space things out,” he said.

FX president and general manager John Landgraf characterized the downtime as an opportunity for Louis to “recharge his batteries,” before adding that the hiatus should only make a great show even greater. In the meantime, FX will forge ahead without it.

“Louis will do whatever he wants to do, and we’ll try to figure out from a channel and a business standpoint how to support that,” Landgraf said. “It’s been unbelievably stunning to see what Louis has been able to do when left to his own devices.”

The news comes on the heels of Louie’s Sept. 27 season finale and Louis’ twin Emmy wins for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special.

Three years ago, Landgraf offered Louis C.K. the opportunity to create what is essentially the first artisanal television program, ceding total creative control in exchange for a thrifty budget—$250,000 for the pilot, or roughly 20 percent the cost of producing the average sitcom.

Louie premiered on FX in June 2010.

Other than scheduling the show, one of the few elements that FX oversees is marketing/promotion. “I wrote John an email that said, ‘Don’t send me any stuff. You guys know how to do this. I make the show.  How you cut it up and make promos is…fine with me,’” Louie said.

“It’s been an incredibly joyful process, from my standpoint, [although] maybe less joyful for Louis, as I have so little to do,” Landgraf said. “He does everything himself.”