President and Chief Executive Officer of FX Networks
Born July 6, 1960, in the Bronx, NY; married Hannah; children: Jackson, Susannah. Education: Yale University, B.A. (history), 1982; attended Northwestern University.
Addresses: Office—10000 Santa Monica Blvd., Rm. 464, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Brand assistant, Richardson-Vicks (division of Procter & Gamble), 1982-83; account executive, Saatchi & Saatchi, 1983-86; account supervisor and director of account-management training, Ogilvy & Mather, 1986-88; director of marketing, vice president of marketing, senior vice president, HBO Video, 1988-94; vice president of marketing, HBO, 1994-96; senior vice president of marketing and promotion, Fox-Liberty Networks, 1996-98; president, FX Networks, 1998—; chief executive officer of FX Networks, 2001—.
Awards: Leaders of Vision Award, RP International, 2004.
Peter Liguori took over the reins of the FX television network in 1998. Since then he has worked tirelessly to create a niche for the small cable channel as it attempts to find a place in the competitive world of ad-supported cable networks. As a member of the much larger Fox-Liberty Networks group of media outlets, FX has been able to take its time finding a share of the audience. When he first joined the station, like its competitors USA, TNT, and TBS, FX was the final resting ground for popular reruns. Liguori had a different vision for FX. His goal was to increase viewership, particularly among men in their mid-20s to late-30s, in order to compete with established networks. With that goal in mind, Liguori went in search for original programming produced by and for the station that would intrigue and delight viewers.
After a couple years of false starts, Liguori found the right combination of violence, intrigue, and creativity in the police drama The Shield. Audiences either loved or hated the show. Critics praised the gritty drama about a police officer who most often operates on the wrong side of the law. Advertisers feared the public backlash against the violent content, and in its first year, ads were pulled. But Liguori had confidence in the show and kept with it. That confidence paid off in 2002 when the show's star, Michael Chiklis, won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Series. The award was the most prestigious ever given to a basic-cable show. The following year Chiklis won a Golden Globe for best actor, and the series won for best drama. Liguori was beginning to reap huge benefits for his risk. Speaking to Mediaweek,Liguori commented on the success of The Shield and what it meant for the future of FX, "It takes a long time to entrench a brand in TV, and I have no illusions that we have cemented one. We have just taken the first few steps, but it's a damn shame if we don't use this opportunity."
Born on July 6, 1960, Liguori grew up in the Bronx, New York, with his parents and members of his extended family. He told Joe Schlosser of Broadcasting & Cable, "It was the quintessential extended immigrant family. It was a warm, fun environment." His father worked two jobs until his death when Liguori was 16. Liguori's father was committed to having his son go to college and emphasized academic achievement. Liguori explained to Schlosser, "There were few things that were uncompromised in our family, but one thing was absolute: grades." At Harry S. Truman High School, Liguori made the grades and ended up graduating valedictorian of his class.
Possessed of an interest and ability in business, Liguori went to college at Yale University. By his sophomore year, he was running the on-campus laundry service. He graduated in 1982 with a degree in history. When he graduated he was hired by Procter & Gamble, for whom he worked for about a year. The job at Procter & Gamble proved boring and unchallenging and was located in the suburb of Wilton, Connecticut. Liguori grew tired of working on projects for products like denture adhesives and left the job after only a year. He was drawn to New York and moved there to work for the advertising agency of Saatchi & Saatchi.
Because his father had wanted him to be a lawyer, Liguori moved to Chicago in 1985 to attend Northwestern University's law school. He dropped out after only one semester because he realized he wanted to be in the film business. Just before his finals he had seen the film Once Upon a Time in America. He explained to Broadcasting & Cable's Schlosser, "I fell in love with the movie and found a bit of a calling." Liguori finished his semester at Northwestern and then returned to New York hoping to get into movies.
Liguori did not get into the film business immediately upon his return to New York; he spent a few more years in advertising, including a return to Saatchi & Saatchi and a stint at Ogilvy & Mather, another large advertising firm. In 1988, his chance to get into the film business came when he was offered a position with HBO in the marketing department of their newly formed home video division. He started out as director of marketing and by 1994, he had become senior vice president of marketing. In 1994, he moved to the position of vice president of marketing for all of HBO. He held the position for two years before Fox-Liberty Networks hired him as senior vice president of marketing and promotion.
In 1998, Liguori was named president of FX Networks. Three years later, in 2001, during one the most dismal years for the entertainment industry, in the midst of layoffs and cutbacks, Liguori was named chief executive officer and given a five-year contract. That year FX was in the top 10 of favorite cable stations among adults between 18 and 49. By 2004, Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle argued that FX ranked as the number five network in television, coming in after ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Using well-performing shows such as The Shield, Nip/Tuck, and Rescue Me as examples, Goodman stated, "[T]here is no more wondering out loud about whether FX has been extremely lucky and stumbled upon two quality dramas in some flukefilled guessing game. Three is a trend ."
In 2003, Liguori was listed as one of Entertainment Weekly's most powerful people in the entertainment industry in their 14th annual Power Issue. The magazine cited his ability to transform FX from a rerun station to a presenter of high-quality, envelope-pushing weekly drama series. As he has risen to prominence and power in the entertainment industry, Liguori—who is married and has two kids—claims that he tries to always remember his roots. He explained to Schlosser, "[P]art of what I am in terms of being a programmer is rooted in my experiences growing up in the Bronx."
Broadcasting & Cable, July 17, 2000, p. 38; January 29, 2001, p. 64.
Cable World, October 15, 2001, p. 42.
Daily Variety, October 15, 2001, p. 4; June 8, 2004, p. B1.
Entertainment Weekly, October 24, 2003, p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter, June 4, 2004.
Mediaweek, May 19, 2003.
Multichannel News, May 8, 2000, p. 78.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 19, 2004, p. C1.
—Eve M. B. Hermann