FX has been approached about taking on "Breaking Bad" if its creators can't work out a deal for a fifth season on AMC, TheWrap has learned.
But the show is likely to stay put, in part because negotiations seem to be improving between Sony Pictures Television, which produces the show, and AMC.
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The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that negotiations on the fifth season reached an impasse after AMC sought to cut the show's fifth — and perhaps final — season from 13 episodes to between six and eight.
The apparent improvement in negotiations since then has reduced the likelihood of a move to FX or another network. (The Times first reported that the show had approached other networks, without naming them.)
FX initially considered airing the show — about a high school chemistry teacher who begins making crystal meth to support his family after a cancer diagnosis — before it debuted on AMC in 2008. But it passed because at the time it already had three shows centered on antiheroes — "The Shield," "Nip/Tuck," and "Rescue Me."
FX executives were also nervous that advertisers and viewers might reject a show with a lead character who makes meth. But those fears have evaporated as the show has proven itself one of the best on television — and star Bryan Cranston has won three consecutive Emmys for best dramatic actor.
Still, other obstacles remain, even if the show does look for a new home. The main sticking point is that FX or another network would be much less likely to pick up a show for just one or two seasons.
Creator Vince Gilligan has often said "Breaking Bad" will chronicle the transformation of Cranston's character, Walter White, "from Mr. Chips to Scarface."
With Walt's ordering a ruthless murder in the third season finale, he seems to be moving quickly in that transformation — which raises the question of how much story remains to be told. Gilligan told TheWrap in an interview last year he was determined not to wear out the show's welcome.
The show's conflicts with AMC are only the latest for the network, which twice entered into long, public negotiations with "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner.
"Mad Men," another Emmy magnet, helped put the network on the map for original programming with its 2007 debut, and "Breaking Bad" became its second critically acclaimed success. AMC has since expanded with shows including the highly rated "The Walking Dead," the canceled "Rubicon," "The Killing," and the upcoming "Hell on Wheels."
But in another sign of creative tension, the network announced last week the replacement of "Walking Dead" showrunner Frank Darabont.