"I'm a really curious person ... I'd be interested in studies on violence in entertainment and the correlation of violence in real life," FX chief John Landgraf told reporters at the FX winter previews Wednesday. "If we find meaningful correlations, we should act on those correlations."
Landgraf, whose network airs the sometimes brutally violent Sons of Anarchy, was responding to the inevitable questions about violence and responsibility question that has been prevalent at the Television Critics Association tour this month. Although he pointed out that the U.S. and U.K. consume the same violent media (The Walking Dead is the No. 1 cable show in England), violent gun deaths are significantly higher in the States. He theorized that it is differences in the countries' gun-control policies, including what kind of guns — handguns vs. semiautomatics and automatics — are made available, that make the difference. "You can't create that kind of mayhem if you have to reload," he said.
That's not to say that Landgraf is against personal firearms. Rather, he believes in personal responsibility. "I'm someone who believes very strongly in the First Amendment and the Second Amendment," he said, but added that although he supported third-person entertainment depicting violence, he doesn't allow his sons to play first-person shooter games.
The panel delved deeper, going beyond the questions of who is responsible to ask why there is so much death on TV. "We talk about this stuff as a staff at FX," said Landgraf. "Our greatest fear is death. If you want to rivet people, you're going to hover around [topics] of life and death. The six highest-rated dramas and miniseries among basic cable are The Walking Dead, Hatfields & McCoys, True Blood, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story and Game of Thrones. Suits is No. 7."
Landgraf also addressed business as usual in the panel:
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: "We picked up the ninth season... there will definitely be one more year, and probably two," he said.
American Horror Story: Unfortunately, Landgraf didn't know which cast members will be returning for the third season. "I think Jessica Lange will be back," he said. "That is such an auteur work on Ryan [Murphy]'s part. He tells me what he's going to do, and I say, 'Great.'"
Anger Management: With 90 episodes of the Charlie Sheen-starring sitcom in the works, Landgraf promised that "It will basically stay on the air without interruption for two years," with the exception of a few weeks here and there for holidays. Martin Sheen, playing Charlie's dad, will be used in roughly every third episode.
The Ultimate Fighter: The ratings weren't great on Friday night, so it will move to 9/8c as the lead-in to Justified on Tuesdays beginning Jan. 22.
Brand X with Russell Brand: It will return Thursday, Feb. 7 at 11:30/10:30c and has been expanded to an hourlong format. Cheers!