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Big Love to return for second season

Big Love to return for second season

Big Love just got bigger. HBO has ordered a second season of the dramatic series from gay creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer about a polygamist family, the network said Wednesday, just halfway into its rookie year. "We all felt the show was really solid and only getting better," HBO president of entertainment Carolyn Strauss said. "It's gathering momentum with subscribers and critics."

Big Love will go back into production in August in anticipation of returning to the air sometime next year. The number of episodes has yet to be determined; the opening order was 12.

The second-season order was not exactly guaranteed, given that BigLove has not been a big ratings draw for HBO. Airing opposite stiff competition like ABC's Grey's Anatomy, Love has averaged fewer than 4 million total viewers for its Sunday 10 p.m. premieres, hanging on to less than half of the audience from its lead-in, The Sopranos. Still, a closer examination of Love's ratings indicates it is far from a lost cause. An additional 3 million viewers catch BigLove in multiple repeat broadcasts throughout the week.

The cumulative audience also has been kind to TheSopranos, which averages 8.8 million viewers in its premiere airing. That haul climbs to 12.8 million when repeats are added. Additional viewers come in via HBO On Demand, though the network does not yet have measurement of viewership on that platform. However, TheSopranos is still feeling the pain of its competitive premiere time slot; Sunday saw its smallest audience in more than five years.

Strauss indicated it is unlikely TheSopranos and BigLove will be paired again, with BigLove likely to return in the latter half of the year; TheSopranos will commence its final eight episodes in January. She also suggested that BigLove might be a better fit with a 9 p.m. slot given that its themes--family, marriage, relationships--might resonate earlier in the evening. "I think we'd be comfortable putting the show on at 9 o'clock," Strauss said. "It feels like a solid 9 o'clock show in terms of story line and subject matter."

The cast and production team from the original season are expected back. Bill Paxton stars as the busy husband of Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Ginnifer Goodwin. Also at HBO the network began production on a second season of Rome at Rome's Cinecitta Studios. A coproduction of HBO and the BBC, Rome also will return to air sometime next year after completing production in October. (Andrew Wallenstein, Reuters)

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