American Horror Story was by far the biggest scare thrown into critics at press tour–even more unsettling than the cash bar at the Lifetime session.
Last week during the summer TCA press tour, FX hosted a screening of the gothic horror series at two old school Hollywood-style screening rooms right on the Fox lot, about a mile from the press tour hotel. Most critics emerged from the screening like they had been hit across the back of the head by a two-by-four. The great sound and crisp, big screen visuals at the screening (wait  till you see and hear the jarring main title sequence) ramped up the creepiness, but my guess is this series will have the same viceral oomph when it premieres on home screens this October 5.
Dylan McDermott (The Practice) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) star as a couple whose marriage is hanging by a thread after she caught he in an affair. They pull their teenage daughter out of school and move accross the U.S. to California, where they buy a haunted house so obviously unsettling the Munsters would have run screaming from the place.

American Horror Story’s Falchuk, Britton and McDermott

Much of what follows–including several chilling intrusions by a next-door-neighbour played to Gloria Swanson excess by Jessica Lange–will have viewers screaming at their TV sets for the couple ot get the hell out of the house.
The screenings were introduced by Britton and executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Judging by the unevenness of Glee last season, Murphy must have shifted much of his focus and energy to this series. He set up the screening by telling critics American Horror Story references a lot of classic horror movies–Friday the 13th, Halloween, Rosemary’s Baby–but is basically about the true horror lurking in American society today–infidelity.

Jessica Lange: creepy good

After the screening, critics stumbled in the darkness over to a BBQ set up on a stretch of  grass outside on the studio lot. I was still in a post-screening stupor when FX PR boss John Solberg pulled me aside and gave a heads up that Canadian journalists will want to attend the FX breakfast early Saturday morning. Had to tell Solberg I’d miss the 8 a.m,. presser (took the red eye back to T.O. Friday to attend a pal’s wedding), a drag because I sensed what was what–FX was finally coming to Canada.
Rogers has done the deal and FX Canada will launch November 1. This is a smart move and will be a real American Horror Story for Shaw’s Showcase networks as well as Super Channel and even Astral. FX makes such gems as Rescue Me, Damages, Sons of Anarchy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Louie CK’s delightfully dark comedy Louie.

Landgraf: There is no box lunch, eh?

Under the leadership of John Landgraf–one of the brightest minds in television–FX has had a batting average that is the envy of every other network in North America. Something like eight our of nine FX shows developed over the past four or five years are still on the air. That’s crazy impressive considering four out of five broadcast network shows fail each year.
Under Landgraf’s watch, shows like Justified–with Canadian-born Graham Yost as showrunner–have broken through as solid Emmy contenders. Landgraf has also found a way to make quality shows for less and market them very effectively. His system is the model for every Canadian broadcaster trying to compete in this tough business of television today.
Partnering with FX is a great move for Rogers, the new kid with deep pockets on the Canadian TV scene. American Horror Story will be one of the most-buzzed about shows this fall, getting FX Canada off to a scary good start.

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