HBO announced the renewal of its entire summer lineup of original programming, ordering another round of freshman comedy "Hung," veteran comedy "Entourage" and hit vampire drama "True Blood."
Network executives addressing the critics at the Television Critics Association's semiannual press tour said "Hung" will get a second season, "True Blood" a third and "Entourage" a seventh. The new seasons will debut in 2010, with "Blood" planned for summer.
The freshly formed Sunday-night lineup has given HBO two consecutive hours of hit programming for the first time in years. "True Blood" in particular has managed to increase its audience with nearly every episode, giving the network its most-watched show since "The Sopranos."
"True Blood" has averaged 3.8 million viewers (11.2 when you add repeats, DVR and On Demand viewing), "Hung" has averaged 3.1 million (10.2 million total) and "Entourage" brings in about 3.0 million (7.4 million total).
Programming head Michael Lombardo and co-president Richard Plepler also dropped hints about the fates and air dates of other HBO programming during the network's executive session.
Next year HBO intends to air "Big Love" in January and roll out its highly anticipated World War II miniseries "The Pacific" in March. The war epic eventually will serve as lead-in for "Treme," the New Orleans drama from "The Wire" creator David Simon.
Emmy-nominated "Flight of the Conchords" also likely will return; executives made the prospect of a third season sound probable.
"When they're ready, we're ready," Plepler said of the show's musical comedy duo, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. "They have the added challenge of writing an album ... we're waiting for them to tell us they're ready."
Though HBO's full development pipeline is expected to present the network with some tough choices in the coming months, one project that looks almost certain to make the air is Martin Scorsese's period drama "Boardwalk Empire," starring Steve Buscemi.
"By everything we've seen, it's fantastic," Lombardo said. "It's big; it's everything we hoped it would be."
Executives were less certain about critical favorite "In Treatment" and "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," the latter program having lost executive producer Anthony Minghella, who died last year. But they didn't rule out the idea of either show returning.
"We're trying to put it together," Lombardo said of "Treatment." "It's adapted from a series (for) which there were only two seasons ... we're trying to see if it's possible."