Renewals Come Early, Often This Summer7/09/2012 12:01 AM Eastern
Summertime and the livin’ seems easy for
cable series seeking renewals.
TNT, HBO and A&E have all ordered new installments
of marquee shows in recent days, while A&E has also committed
to a new show, sans pilot, and primetime leader
USA Network has ordered a new series from the creator
of White Collar.
Not surprisingly, TNT picked up a pair of new entries,
renewing the Dallas revival for a sophomore run and Rizzoli
& Isles for a fourth campaign. The drama network ordered
15 episodes from Warner Horizon Television, with
the new Dallas installments slated to bow in 2013.
The reboot of CBS’s 1978-91 primetime soap chronicling
the lives of the Ewing clan scored 7.8 million viewers for its
two-hour debut on June 13, according to Nielsen live-plusthree-
day data. That gave TNT claim to launching ad-supported
cable’s biggest drama for a third straight summer.
Cop drama Rizzoli & Isles began that run in 2010 with its
live 7.3 million viewer premiere on July 19 that year, benefiting
from a lead-in from The Closer. It ranked as the medium’s
biggest debut to date.
Starring Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli, the tough Boston
police detective, and Sasha Alexander as Maura Isles,
an impeccably dressed medical examiner, the show
stands as cable’s top returning series, averaging 7.1 million
viewers on a live-plus-three-day basis in its new time
slot on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
“Anchoring a new night in its third season, Rizzoli &
Isles has proven itself to be a strong and enduring hit, not
only in terms of the great storylines and performances,
but also in terms of the show’s stellar ratings,” Michael
Wright, president and head of programming for TNT, TBS
and Turner Classic Movies, said. At press time, though, the
network had yet to renew its lead-out, barrister buddy series
Franklin & Bash, for a third season.
On the premium side of the dial, HBO is bringing back its
most popular show, vampire series True Blood, for a sixth
go-round next year. The show pulled in 5.2 million watchers
for its fifth season debut on June 10, while the July 1 installment
garnered 4.54 million during its 9 p.m. premiere.
Meanwhile, Alan Sorkin’s polarizing presentation of a
cable news team, The Newsroom, earned a second season,
after premiering before 2.1 million watchers on June 24
and 1.67 million during its second installment on July 1,
according to Nielsen data. Despite critical mixed reviews,
The Newsroom was HBO’s third most-watched drama debut
in recent years, behind prohibition-era skein Boardwalk
Empire and fantasy series Game of Thrones, but ahead
of the 1.4 million for True Blood, which has evolved into
one of the premium programmer’s top series franchises.
Somewhat surprisingly, HBO’s baseball comedy Eastbound
& Down will step on the hill again for an eight-episode
fourth season. The Danny McBride vehicle ended
its third season with 1.1 million watchers. Earlier, HBO
placed second-season orders for social-media buzzernaut
Girls and Julia Louis Dreyfus-starrer Veep.
A&E again will be riding the trails with western drama
Longmire, which set a network record of 4.1 million viewers
for its June 3 debut.
Based on the novels by Craig Johnson, Longmire stars
Robert Taylor as a Wyoming sheriff and Katee Sackhoff
as his new female deputy. Like Dallas and Rizzoli & Isles,
Longmire is produced by Warner Horizon Television.
A&E also took a bold step, checking into the world of the
classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho with a prequel series.
Bypassing the pilot process, the channel ordered 10
episodes of Bates Motel from Universal Television, with an
eye toward a launch next year. The series explores the formative
years of serial killer Norman Bates and his equally
deranged mother, Norma.
For its part, basic-cable leader USA Network is going
to Graceland, from White Collar creator Jeff Eastin, for
its next series. Elvis is not involved, but a group of agents
from three government agencies — the Drug Enforcement
Agency, the FBI and U.S. Customs — are, living together undercover
in a Southern California beach house.