Life for Fox's 'Death,' 'Standoff'

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Fox Broadcasting Co. spread some good cheer to two of its rookie series Thursday, handing pickups to 20th Century Fox TV's drama "Standoff" and Sony Pictures TV's comedy " 'Til Death,"

In cable news, Showtime has picked up a third season of its comedy "Weeds" with an expanded 15-episode order, while Logo has greenlighted the scripted comedy "Exes and Ohs."

Fox ordered six more episodes of "Standoff," which stars Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt as hostage negotiators who are romantically involved. "Death" received a nine-episode pickup. The sitcom stars Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher as a long-married couple who live next door to newlyweds. The pickups for "Standoff" and "Death" amount to a vote of confidence from the network as both shows are pulling in modest Nielsen numbers.

Separately, Fox confirmed that the final four episodes of "Vanished," the rookie drama that was yanked from the schedule last month, will be offered as streaming video on News Corp.-owned MySpace on four consecutive Fridays starting tonight.

For its third season, Showtime has increased the episode order of "Weeds" by three installments compared with Season 2. The series, produced by Lionsgate in association with Tilted Prods., is set to resume production in Los Angeles in the spring for a summer premiere.

Season 2 of "Weeds," Showtime's second-most-watched series behind "Dexter," improved on its first season by 18% in terms of average weekly viewers. The first airing of the second-season finale last month was the series' most-watched single telecast ever, drawing 626,000 viewers.

" 'Weeds' is quintessential Showtime: bold, provocative, premium television with production values at the top of the food chain," Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt said.

Added Kevin Beggs, president of television programming and production at Lionsgate: "The talent -- both in front of and behind the camera -- is extraordinary." He also praised Showtime for going "above and beyond to support the unique creative vision of the series since Day 1."

"Weeds" is created and executive produced by Jenji Kohan. Star Mary-Louise Parker won a Golden Globe this year for her role as a pot-dealing suburban mother.

Meanwhile, Logo said that "Exes" is the first-ever scripted comedy about lesbian friends and relationships for a basic cable channel. The series, based on the short film "The Ten Rules: A Lesbian Survival Guide," follows the adventures of Jennifer (Michelle Paradise), a documentary filmmaker and her search for Ms. Right. The cast also includes Marnie Alton, Megan Cavanagh, Angela Featherstone and Heather Matarazzo.

"An inventive short film about lesbian dating is transformed by its original creators into a series with a playful format and characters with an authentic sense of humor," said Brian Graden, president of entertainment at MTV Networks Music Group and president of Logo, which targets lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewers.

The six-episode, half-hour series is set to begin production this week in Vancouver for a 2007 premiere.

"Exes" is executive produced by Paradise, Lee Friedlander, Billy Grundfest and Noreen Halpern and John Morayniss of Blueprint Prods.
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