The premium-cable channel picked up all three of its current Sunday-night shows — "True Blood," "Hung" and "Entourage" — for new seasons. All three will be back in summer 2010, HBO programming group chief Michael Lombardo announced Thursday at the summer TV press tour.
"True Blood" has turned into HBO's biggest show in its second season. The series is averaging close to 4 million viewers in premiere airings on Sunday nights, and HBO says cumulative weekly viewing (including repeats, DVRs and on demand) tops 10 million people. "Hung" has also started strong, while "Entourage" has made huge gains on its ratings compared to last summer.
HBO also has a couple of firm premiere dates for its comedies "Bored to Death" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and at least a general idea about when its World War II miniseries "The Pacific" and a couple of dramas will be on the air.
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" will open its seventh season at 9 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 20, for a run of episodes that will include all four principal members of the "Seinfeld" cast. It will be followed by "Bored to Death," which stars Jason Schwartzman as a down-and-out writer who starts working as a private detective.
"The Pacific," which chronicles the Pacific Theater of World War II through the eyes of three Marines, is likely to premiere in March, Lombardo says. Toward the end of its run, "The Wire" creator David Simon's New Orleans-set drama "Treme" is likely to premiere. Lombardo also says "Big Love" will begin its fourth season in early 2010.
Farther down the road, HBO is working on an animated show from "The Office" and "Extras" creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and will be happy to have "Flight of the Conchords" back whenever the band is ready.
The Gervais show will be based on the podcasts that feature Gervais, Merchant and designated whipping boy Karl Pilkington. Some episodes, Lombardo says, will simply be a matter of setting pictures to the podcast audio, while others will use the podcasts as a jumping-off point. There's no target date for a premiere yet.
The same is true for "Flight of the Conchords," which faces the dual issue of being both funny and musically solid. "Whenever they're ready, we're ready," HBO co-president Richard Plepler says, but the network wants to give Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement space to create songs and comedy.
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