FX’s John Landgraf Says Being Bought by Disney Could Be ‘a Really Good Thing’ for His Network

He's optimistic that the brand can thrive under its soon-to-be-owner

John Landgraf said that he was encouraged by how Disney has handled 'distinctive' brands like Pixar. Getty Images
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When Disney announced that it would be acquiring 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, one of the biggest questions about the deal—which the company expects to close in 12-18 months—was how an edgy brand like FX would fare under its family-friend new owner.

But FX Networks CEO John Landgraf has no such worries, he said today at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour. He told reporters that he’s optimistic that his network’s move to Disney “can be a really good thing,” adding “I don’t really have any concerns, other than the details.”

Landgraf said he’s encouraged by Disney and its CEO Robert Iger’s recent history after acquiring brands like Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm that have “a distinctive process, a distinctive creative culture,” as is the case at FX.

“Under Iger’s leadership, I think Disney has been a very good steward of brands that it’s bought,” said Landgraf. At each of those companies, “the creative cultures seem to have thrived under Disney’s leadership,” even though they are very different from its parent company.

Iger reached out to Landgraf, and told him that he “wants FX to be a part of the larger plans,” said Landgraf. “We do something that’s unique.”

Rather than be concerned that FX’s brand is so different than Disney’s, Landgraf thinks those disparities are “a good thing” because “we bring something distinctive and unique into their world.”

With Disney planning to launch its own streaming service in 2019, quality programming like FX’s will be “an important component of that,” said Landgraf. “All I can say is I’m optimistic and time will tell.”

As for his own potential future at Disney—whether he’ll continue to oversee FX or potentially take on a larger role at the company—Landgraf said he’s unsure, and hasn’t had any conversations along those lines yet. “I honestly don’t think they know yet” about how the company will restructure its assets after the acquisition, and where FX will fit into that, said Landgraf. “If they have, they haven’t told me.”

He said it will be “more complicated” for the 21st Century Fox assets that overlap with Disney, but “neither I nor anyone at FX has any counterpart at Disney.”

The CEO’s comments about the recently-announced Disney deal came one day after Fox’s network chiefs said it will be “business as usual” for them until the deal closes with Disney. (The Fox network will be among the assets that Disney won’t be buying, and will instead be spun off into a company tentative called New Fox.)

Landgraf also discussed FX’s decision to cut ties with Louis C.K. in November after the comedian—who has produced five different series for Landgraf’s network and studio— confirmed the sexual harassment allegations reported by the New York Times.

The company recently concluded its internal investigation following the allegations and “we did not find any issues, complaints or incidents of misconduct” in any of his five shows over eight years,” said Landgraf, who added that he had “no awareness” of the allegations against C.K., which had been rumored for years, prior to the New York Times story.

“We have to do everything in our power to create a safe working environment,” said Landgraf. “We view this as a no-tolerance workplace.”

Now that C.K. is no longer involved with any FX series, that means that Pamela Adlon—who co-wrote Better Things with C.K.—will be continuing that show without him. “She’s the creative engine of that show, and that’s not going to change,” said Landgraf. “She’s going to have to write them all herself or find another co-writer. … I’m optimistic and confident that the third season will be great.”

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
Publish date: January 5, 2018 https://stage.adweek.com/tv-video/fxs-john-landgraf-says-being-bought-by-disney-could-be-a-really-good-thing-for-his-network/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT