A roundup of news from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, where TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
Michelle Williams is returning to television for the first time in 16 years. She’s playing dancer and actress Gwen Verdon, whose career aspirations were supplanted by her marriage to choreographer-director Bob Fosse.
Oscar winner Sam Rockwell plays Fosse in the eight-episode FX series “Fosse/Verdon,” debuting April 9.
Williams’ last TV work was the hit series “Dawson’s Creek” that ended in 2003.
She sees parallels with Verdon, who was a working mother like Williams.
Williams pointed out a long gap in Verdon’s career while she stayed home to raise Nicole, her daughter with Fosse. Nicole Fosse is a creative consultant on the series.
Williams said Monday that such gaps are something all working mothers struggle with and called it “a very complicated dilemma.”
FX VS. GOLIATH
Someone is standing up to television’s Goliath, with a prominent competitor saying Monday that Netflix is deceiving the public about what is a hit and what isn’t.
John Landgraf, the FX Networks chief executive who has frequently pointed out the glut of scripted TV, said Netflix is using cloudy measurements to claim increasing dominance among viewers. It’s an approach he said reflects a worrisome Silicon Valley arrogance.
Applying long-used industry standards to Netflix, “their true batting average would be viewed as unimpressive,” Landgraf said.
The streaming service has upended the TV industry with a gusher of programming beyond that of any other outlet. This year, Netflix also realized its goal of earning a best-picture Oscar nomination, for the film “Roma.”
But success doesn’t necessarily stem from an “endless money cannon,” as Landgraf described spending by what he called Silicon Valley’s “monopolistic titans.”
Netflix’s claim that 40 million households globally watched the series “You” is suspect, Landgraf said, contending the U.S figure would be only 8 million viewers if the industry’s average-viewership standard was applied. The streaming service generally refuses to release viewership numbers, emphasizing the subscriber growth it now pegs at more than 130 million worldwide, with nearly 60 million of those in the United States.
“By creating a myth that they have used data to find the magic bullet of guaranteed commercial success that has eluded everyone else since the creation of television, they have given the impression that the vast majority of shows on their platform is working … and that they have or will soon have many more hits than anyone else,” Landgraf said.
Netflix declined comment Monday. The company said in an earnings letter it counts a viewer if they “substantially complete at least one episode.”
Landgraf, who dismissed that measure as meaningless, said a program like “Stranger Things” is rightly cited by Netflix as an audience “home run” but called it an outlier.
FX is coming off a good year, with a wealth of Emmy and other awards for shows including “The Americans” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” Landgraf said he’s optimistic about FX’s future as Walt Disney Co. prepares to acquire 21st Century Fox, parent company of the channel.
Donald Glover’s comedy “Atlanta” will be back. Just not as soon as expected.
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said Monday the series is behind schedule. The Georgia-based show was renewed for a third season in June and was supposed to return this year.
Landgraf said the show’s writers are working on new episodes. Network spokesman John Solberg added that the show won’t be back in time for Emmy Awards consideration this year.
“Atlanta” has won two Emmys and two Golden Globe awards.
Landgraf said Glover has been dealing with an injured foot and personal issues involving his extended family.
“As you might imagine, Donald Glover is sort of the king of all media, and he just has had an incredibly complicated life,” Landgraf said. “One of the things that is just a reality of television today is you have to wait.”
Glover, who raps as Childish Gambino, hurt his foot in September, which forced him to postpone several shows that he later made up in December.
Glover’s “This is America” tour has upcoming dates in Europe and he will be performing at Coachella in April.
Landgraf said he wishes for “Atlanta” fans and for the network that shows would air on an annual basis.
“You just have to make a decision about quantity over quality at a certain point, and we’re just erring on the side of quality,” he said.
THREE AND OUT
The creator of FX’s “Legion” said the time has come to end the series.
Noah Hawley said the drama had arrived at a “natural place” to conclude the story of David Haller, the Marvel Comics character played by Dan Stevens.
FX Networks chief executive John Landgraf said Hawley had devised “Legion” as a three-season story and was sticking to his plan. The series is in production and set to return in June with eight episodes.
At the end of last season, David had stopped taking medication for his apparent schizophrenia and “spiraled down,” Hawley said Monday.
Whether he can find himself or is “gone for good” is the story to be told next season, Hawley said.
Stevens said the series has been “weird and beautiful.”
Executive producer Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel Television, said he thinks of season three as the end of a graphic novel.
He suggested a follow-up might be possible, depending on the story, the cast’s availability and FX’s willingness to green-light it.