HBO has ordered a third season of its gay-inclusive hit series Six Feet Under, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series averages 3.7 million homes and 5.6 million viewers among HBO subscribers, essentially equaling its first-season ratings. "I think that we would have had to really screw things up for there not to be a third season," said the show's out creator, Alan Ball, who adds that there will be some changes ahead. "We want to loosen up the serialized aspect of the show a little bit. We want to have the freedom to do more free-standing episodes so that not every single episode has to further every single story." The third season is expected to start shooting in September and is tentatively scheduled to launch late in the first quarter of 2003.
In other HBO news, the network says that the sixth season of the homoerotic prison series Oz--also slated to debut in early 2003--will be the last. TVGuide.com reports that HBO's programming president Chris Albrecht said, "Oz has been a landmark series for HBO, one that has had a tremendous impact on both subscribers and critics. We look forward to working with [executive producer] Tom Fontana again." Fontana added, "With these final eight episodes of Oz, I will finish telling the story I originally set out to tell."