10:04am PT by Lesley Goldberg
HBO Renews 'True Blood' for Seventh Season
HBO will continue to take a bite out of audiences.
The premium cable network announced Monday that it has renewed True Blood for a seventh season. The series, which stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard, will return in summer 2014 with Brian Buckner returning as showrunner.
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"True Blood remains a signature show for HBO, and a true phenomenon with our viewers," said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo in making the announcement. “Thanks to Brian Buckner and his talented team, the show continues to be a thrill ride like nothing else on TV.”
True Blood returned in June, its sixth-season premiere drawing 4.5 million total viewers, down about 700,000 year-over-year -- but it faced stiff competition from Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Season six marked the show's first without series creator Alan Ball, who adapted the story from Charlaine Harris' popular book series. Buckner, for his part, replaced Mark Hudis -- who was initially set to take over for Ball.
Speaking at the season-six premiere earlier this summer, Ball expressed confidence in Buckner. "I told him, 'I'm available but I know that you can do it, and call me if you need me,' " he told The Hollywood Reporter. "But I'm not going to try to shoehorn in there. I left the show because I needed a year off, and I think they're doing great work. My advice is when you get overwhelmed, remember it's just a television show. It's a big television show and a really hard one to put together, but don't let it destroy your life."
True Blood ranks as HBO's third-most-watched original scripted series, trailing only The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.