FX president and general manager John Landgraf met the Television Critics Association to present the cable network’s spring season. Taking questions, he addressed the status of “American Horror Story”‘s second season and new cast.
“Ryan Murphy’s already looking for that cast,” Landgraf said. “He’s already in active conversations with new people and also two or possibly three of the existing cast members, some series regulars or guest cast may be continuing next year although they would be playing entirely new roles.”
Landgraf reiterated that he greenlit the plan to kill off the season one cast. They just didn’t want the audience to know that was going to happen. “We just didn’t want to tell the audience that because the experience of not knowing where it would end would be diminished, if they knew we were going to burn this cast and location to the ground.”
This is something Ryan Murphy does. Maybe not on “Glee,” but his previous FX show was reinvented a few times too. If you liked “nip/tuck” in L.A. (and I did. It really saved the series from the Carver and organ thieves) then “American Horror Story” is following a similar artistic path. (continued inside) “This was something I was really excited about this idea from the get go,” Landgraf said. “One of the things I think Ryan’s particularly strong at is creating a really distinctive world in all its aspects. That includes the tone and mood of the place, the costume design and music, cinematography. If you looked at the way those characters were dressed, right down to Jessica Lange’s wardrobe and the way her hair was style, Ryan Murphy was involved in every aspect of that. Even with nip/tuck he wanted to recreate it at a certain point so he moved it from Miami to LA. This gives him the opportunity to do that every year.”
To some extent Landgraf lets Murphy do what he wants. If audiences have a hard time with the show, they’re just not going to get Murphy. But there’s no reigning him in.
“They have more leeway and creative freedom than most so I don’t know every detail of everything they’re up to, I certainly knew a lot,” Landgraf said. “I knew the entire family was going to die by the end of the season. One of my biggest concerns about the piece is that the nature of the genre is that you’re always ahead of the protagonist. You know things the protagonist doesn’t know so we knew that certain critics and audiences would get frustrated with the leads. It’s just a classic rule of storytelling the leads should know more than the audience, or at least not less. After the lead characters were dead and knew everything, they were at least by the end of the piece able to recapture their status as leads. The final episode where Vivien and Ben Harmon spook the new couple out of the house was the first time in 7 or 8 episodes where they were ahead of the audience. It was an experiment. I didn’t know if that would alienate the audience. It didn’t in terms of viewership. That’s Ryan. He’s going to push the form and go to places you wouldn’t expect.”
The FX thriller from “Glee” co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk capped off its first season run with a record 3.22 million viewers — a strong finish for the top-rated first season series in the network’s history, said THR back in December.
The finale, which drew mixed reviews from critics, delivered 2.2 million viewers in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic, and ranked as cable’s No. 1 program in all of key demos Wednesday. Once DVR viewership is factored in for what Nielsen named the year’s most time-shifted program, the final tally will likely exceed 5 million total viewers.