"M*A*S*H"
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FX hones edge after Emmy triumph for 'Shield'

15 October 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Once known for running endless repeats of In Living Color and M*A*S*H, the network has made an effort during the past 18 months to reinvent itself as a basic-cable HBO -- a haven for edgy and provocative programming that would never make it on a broadcast network. The Shield star Michael Chiklis' stunning upset win for best drama actor at last month's Primetime Emmy Awards seemed to be the vindication for that strategy. The show put FX on the map in terms of media attention and critical acclaim. Plus it brought in big ratings -- an average of 2.1 million viewers in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic in its first season, a solid showing for basic cable. But as Shield begins production on its second season, the Chiklis Emmy win won't change too many marketers' feelings about the cop show's graphic violence. "If the content is too controversial, I can't see advertisers suddenly switching their content policies because of an Emmy," said Brad Adgate, senior vp corporate research director at media-buying firm Horizon Media. So can FX afford to emulate HBO, which is not advertiser-supported and thus is less sensitive to the ratings performance of its shows? The effort to fashion a more high-toned image for the 8-year-old channel led to the cancellation of the Howard Stern-produced lowbrow comedy Son of the Beach, which had been one of FX's highest-rated shows. »

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