'Eastbound' lives to pitch another day

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HBO has renewed the comedy series "Eastbound & Down" for a second season. Production on the new episodes will begin this year for a 2010 premiere.

The series, executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, had a slow start, drawing 671,000 viewers to its Feb. 15 premiere.

But like Alan Ball's vampire drama "True Blood" last year, "Eastbound" grew steadily throughout its six-episode run, peaking at 950,000 viewers March 15 — following the March 14 telecast of Ferrell's "You're Welcome America" HBO special — and closing its freshman season with 904,000 viewers March 22.

Overall, the series ended 35% higher in the ratings than where it started.

" 'Eastbound & Down's' raucous comedy sparked a loyal and enthusiastic following that grew throughout the season," HBO West Coast chief Michael Lombardo said.

"Eastbound" stars Danny McBride as Kenny Powers, a star pitcher whose self-destructive behavior knocked him out of the major leagues. He returned home to North Carolina to teach gym at the middle school he once attended before eventually scoring another big-league offer.

"Eastbound" is exec produced by Ferrell, McKay, Chris Henchy, Jody Hill, McBride and Ben Best. (partialdiff)
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