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HBO plugs ‘Entourage’ posse
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The “Entourage” crew is coming back for more adventures in celebrity-dom next year — many more adventures, if HBO has anything to say about it.
The Emmy-nominated comedy, which stars Adrian Grenier as a young movie star and Jeremy Piven as his shark-ish agent, has been renewed for a third season to debut next year. HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht told reporters that he’s looking to hire more writers for the show in order to produce more than 13 episodes per season.
“We’re certainly going to try to get more than that,” Albrecht said Friday during HBO’s portion of the summer Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton.
The renewal of “Entourage” topped a state-of-HBO address delivered by Albrecht that included updates on such shows as “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” as well as news of a formal green light for the long-gestating “John Adams” miniseries.
No HBO session at TCA would be complete without the semiannual speculation on the potential for additional episodes of “The Sopranos” beyond the sixth season, scheduled to bow in March. Albrecht offered the series’ open-ended fate as a continuous source of discussion between himself and new Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey, who formerly headed the Brad Grey TV banner that produces “Sopranos.”
He said the decision to produce more “Sopranos” ultimately rested with its creator, David Chase, whom Albrecht depicted as “most concerned with leaving the audience feeling great about the show.”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” meanwhile, will return for a fifth season Sept. 25, at 10 p.m. The 10-episode installment will be paired with “Extras,” a similarly themed BBC comedy starring Ricky Gervais (“The Office”).
HBO begins production in the fall on the 10-hour “Adams” miniseries about one of the nation’s founding fathers who also had the formidable task of following George Washington as the second president of the United States. Shooting is expected to continue on sites in Virginia and Europe through next year in time for a 2007 airdate. Tom Hanks will serve as an executive producer, and will direct one of the episodes.
Hanks and Steven Spielberg will also produce a miniseries about World War II battles in the Pacific theater. The World War II miniseries and “Adams” together will cost HBO about $300 million, according to Albrecht.
Albrecht also offered candid assessments on a range of current HBO programing, defending the likes of the new Lisa Kudrow comedy “The Comeback” and “Six Feet Under,” which he admitted was not well served by its brief switch to Monday from Sunday nights.
He professed awe at the fan support greeting “The Wire” and the now-canceled “Carnivale,” which he deemed ultimately too expensive to continue given its huge production costs and ensemble cast. “It’s not a big show in the foreign (market), there’s not a lot of investment to recoup from that,” he said.
Also in the longform department, HBO has recruited Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons for the two-part miniseries “Elizabeth I,” which is filming in Lithuania, in anticipation of airing next year. Mirren plays the 16th century monarch, with Irons and Hugh Dancy depicting two of the politically ambitious lovers she had late in her reign.
In other programing news from the session:
= HBO will introduce a late-night series, “One Night Stand,” beginning Aug. 19, featuring stand-up comedy from the likes of Earthquake, Louis C.K. and Caroline Rhea. The network is also producing stand-up specials through the end of the year for Bill Maher, George Carlin, Dennis Miller and Robert Klein, who will mark his eighth HBO special. He headlined the first HBO comedy special 30 years ago.
= HBO also laid out its schedule of documentaries for the “America Undercover” franchise for the second half of the year, including “A Father … A Son … Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” an examination of the relationship between movie stars Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas, directed by Lee Grant.
The elder Douglas, who was present via satellite because of recent knee surgery, cracked up the room by suggesting he was eyeing a potential TV project for himself and his son’s wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. “I want to audition next season for (the ABC summer hit) ‘Dancing With the Stars,”‘ he joked.
= The original film “Walkout” will air next year. Directed by Edward James Olmos, it depicts the protest movement in the East Los Angeles public school system during the civil rights era. Alexa Vega (“Spy Kids”) stars.