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'Deadwood' Saddles Up for a Third Season

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page C07

HBO has renewed "Deadwood" for a third season. The western drama will begin production later this year of 12 episodes to debut in 2006, the pay cable network announced yesterday.

HBO Entertainment President Carolyn Strauss said in the announcement that "Deadwood" has connected with subscribers and critics. Her statement was followed by excerpts from some of the show's many rave reviews.

HBO is pulling out all the stops for its revisionist western "Deadwood." Creator David Milch demonstrates the finer points of cart-pulling for actors Larry Cedar and Peter Jason. (Kevork Djanesezian -- AP)

Regarding subscribers: In its four episodes so far this season, "Deadwood" has averaged about 3 million viewers on Sunday nights. In its first season, the series averaged about 4.5 million viewers on Sundays, but in those days it had a "Sopranos" lead-in of nearly 10 million viewers on average. These days it gets by with a talk-about-incompatible-programming lead-in, "Sex and the City," which averages about 1.3 million viewers.

That, coincidentally, is about the same number of viewers who watched the past season finale of HBO's "The Wire" in December.

The network recently announced it had renewed "The Wire" for a fourth season, despite the show's low ratings. In its most recent season, "The Wire" averaged about 1.5 million viewers on Sundays against ABC's freshman ratings magnet "Desperate Housewives."

HBO has ordered 12 more episodes of "The Wire," also to air next year, that will look at the role of the educational system in an urban environment.

The show's first season viewed the national drug war through the microcosm of a West Baltimore housing project; the second season focused on a longshoremen's union; the third put the spotlight on Baltimore's fictional political leadership.

Tucker Carlson's PBS series will not be back for a second season, the public broadcaster announced yesterday.

WETA, which produced the short-lived show, blames the fact that Carlson is relocating for his new MSNBC series.

"Carlson's new nightly program with MSNBC and resultant relocation to the New York City area made it operationally impossible for the series to continue," WETA said yesterday in a news release announcing the end of the show, which debuted in June.

Carlson, in the announcement, said he was disappointed and that the folks at public TV had been "decent" and kind.

"Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" launched June 18, 2004, while he still had his gig at CNN; it was carried by 93 percent of PBS stations on weekends and Friday nights.

Shortly before "Unfiltered" debuted, critics asked PBS chief Pat Mitchell why she was giving Carlson a series after she had repeatedly lectured them that the point of continuing the your-tax-dollars-at-work network was to give voice to those who can't be heard on other networks, while Carlson was gainfully employed at CNN.

Mitchell responded that it would be unfair to "box Tucker in to having only one opportunity in his career."

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