Most TV production shut down in March due to Covid-19, leaving networks scrambling to create alternative filming and schedule plans as the pandemic continued. But now several networks have carefully resumed filming, including FX, which recently wrapped production on two series ahead of their fall premieres.
Season 4 of Fargo, which had two episodes left to film following March’s shutdown, finished production Tuesday and is on track for its Sept. 27 premiere, FX Networks chairman John Landgraf said today at the virtual FX Press Day, held in place of the canceled Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
Meanwhile, limited series A Teacher, which will debut Nov. 10 on FX on Hulu, competed four days of “pickups” last month.
“We’re finding safe ways of returning to work,” said Landgraf, which involve “an enormous amount of medical consultation,” repeated Covid-19 testing, and efforts to isolate as many segments of the crew as possible from each other during production.
Other FX projects going into production this fall include the third season of Pose, American Horror Story, the Jeff Bridges series The Old Man and Impeachment, the third installment of American Crime Story, which will focus on the national scandal involving Monica Lewinsky (played by Beanie Feldstein) and then-President Bill Clinton (Clive Owen).
Landgraf said Atlanta, Better Things and What We Do in the Shadows will return to production early next year.
While Donald Glover’s Atlanta will still shoot Seasons 3 and 4 back to back as originally planned before the pandemic (Landgraf said one season will shoot primarily in Europe and the other mostly in Atlanta), production has been pushed back until next year, and Season 3 will no longer be ready to air by early 2021 as originally planned.
“We’re still learning,” said Landgraf of shooting during a pandemic. But “I think it’s gone the best we could have possibly hoped so far.”
FX on Hulu exceeds expectations
In his executive session, Landgraf also talked about the early success of FX on Hulu, his company’s new streaming hub on the Hulu platform that rolled out in March. (All new FX and FXX episodes are now available to stream on Hulu the day after their linear premiere, while several series, including Mrs. America, bypass linear and are available exclusively on Hulu.)
The effort to expand FX’s brand beyond linear, which was “the biggest initiative in our history,” according to Landgraf, “has exceeded our expectations.” Since March, “the launch has created greater awareness and buzz, as well as increased viewership for our shows.”
As a result of exposing FX’s lineup of current and library shows to Hulu’s 35.5 million subscribers, new FXX comedy Dave averaged close to 8 million viewers per episode, making it the most-watched FX comedy series ever, while the Season 2 audience for What We Do in the Shadows increased 54% over Season 1.
Having FX and Hulu originals together on one platform has “proven to be an incredibly potent combination,” said Landgraf. “There is no better place for a consumer to get the best of today’s television.”
While Landgraf isn’t releasing streaming figures for FX shows on Hulu (a practice he used to knock Netflix for), he said that viewership is “substantial,” and that each week, even the least-viewed FX programs are “watched thousands of times.”