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Originals: More to Come

2/14/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

The economy may be on the wane, but cable networks last week continued to greenlight new shows and renew hit series.

On the new production side, Spike said it will play in the sports arena this summer with the development of a new half-hour comedy series set in a sports bar.

The series, Players, tracks two brothers with diametrically opposed personalities as they attempt to run a sports bar. Upright Citizen’s Brigade’s Matt Walsh will produce the Principato Young Entertainment series with Ian Roberts, Jay Martel, Peter Principato and Paul Young.

MTV later this month will launch a “dogg” of a talk show featuring rapper, entrepreneur and actor Snoop Dogg. The variety talk show, Dogg After Dark, will debut Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. and feature “raw” interviews with A-list celebrities and musicians, sketch-comedy segments and musical performances from current artists.

A global deal reached between MTV and Snoop Dogg will also cross over into the development of the hip-hop artist’s new album, as well as inclusion of several Snoop Dogg catalog songs into MTV’s hit video game Rock Band, according to MTV officials.

The yet-to-launch Epix network has greenlit its first original series, Tough Trade, from partner Lionsgate, said Mark Greenberg, president of Studio 3 Networks, the parent company of the joint venture between Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate.

The hourlong drama, set to debut in 2010, will join Epix’s movie roster. The multiplatform network is set to launch online in May and as a fulltime cable and satellite channel in October.

The show will revolve around the Tuckers, a three-generation Nashville music dynasty whose penchant for drink, debauchery and divorce has left them on the verge of bankruptcy.

On the renewal front, Showtime will bring back its freshman original series The United States of Tara for a second season, according to Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt.

The Steven Spielberg-produced series, starring Toni Collette as a suburban mother with multiple personalities, will begin production on 12 new episodes this summer that will air in early 2010. Through four episodes of its freshman season, the show averaged 2.1 million viewers including original and repeat telecasts, according to Showtime.

ABC Family has renewed The Secret Life of the American Teenager for a second season. The network has ordered 24 more episodes of the series, which is produced by ABC Family and creator and executive producer Brenda Hampton’s Brendavision.

The 23-installment first season of Secret Life — examining the relationships between families and friends and how they deal with an unexpected pregnancy and other teen issues — is slated to conclude March 23, with the next season tentatively scheduled to debut this summer, said Kate Juergens, executive vice president of original series programming and development for the network.

The renewal follows ABC Family’s recent pick-ups of a trio of series including 10 Things I Hate About You, based on the theatrical of the same name; gymnast series Perfect 10; and comedy Ruby and the Rockits. Moreover, the service said that original series Greek and Lincoln Heights will make summer returns, with orders for 20 and 10 installments, respectively.

Launched as the highest-rated original series in the network’s history this past summer with 2.8 million viewers on July 1, Secret Life helped ABC Family notch its most-watched year ever in 2008, according to network officials.

Cartoon Network will continue to ride the “The Force” as it greenlights a second season of its popular animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The service has ordered a second, 22-episode season of Lucasfilm Ltd.’s CG-animated series. The new episodes are slated to begin next fall.

Meanwhile, Clone Wars’ first season still has six more episodes to run, before concluding its rookie 22-episode campaign on March 20. The Oct. 3, 2008, Clone Wars premiere was the most-watched series debut in Cartoon history with 3.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research

Sister service TNT will begin its run with the series on Feb. 14, before it settles into its Wednesday schedule of two episodes in the 10 p.m. hour on the drama network.

Mike Reynolds and Kent Gibbons contributed to this story.

September