NBC's 'Studio 60' gets full season

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After days of speculation, NBC has handed a back-nine order to "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," bringing the order to Aaron Sorkin's critically praised drama set behind the scenes of a late-night sketch comedy show to 22.

Sources said the deal for the back-nine episodes was made at a lower license fee than the original one, said to be in the range of $2.5 million-$3 million per episode, and the episode guarantees for the members of the show's ensemble cast have been reduced by one.

NBC and producer Warner Bros. TV declined comment.

Airing behind the breakout new hit of the season, NBC's "Heroes," "Studio 60" got off to a promising start, but the ratings substantially tapered off, settling into the low 3 rating point range among adults 18-49. This week, the series starring Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet averaged a 3.3 rating/8 share in the demo and 7.7 million viewers overall, finishing third in the hour.

"I've never wavered in my belief in the show," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. "With the talent we have in front and behind the camera and with the direction Aaron is taking the relationships, I think the show's passionate core audience will be excited, and the other viewers who sampled it can be won over."

"Studio 60" was taken off its 10 p.m. Monday slot last week when the network tried out another critically praised but low-rated new drama, "Friday Night Lights."

Reilly wouldn't say whether "Studio 60" will remain in its Monday berth. He said the network is looking at several possible scheduling moves, with a new midseason schedule set to be announced next week.

Reilly also declined comment on the fate of two other struggling new series, which have not been picked up for a full season, "Lights" and the comedy "30 Rock."

" 'Studio 60,' 'Friday Night Lights' and '30 Rock' are really good shows with passionate underlying audiences that are back on brand with NBC," Reilly said.

"30 Rock" and "Lights" received orders for three additional scripts, a step NBC also took with "Studio 60" before ordering a full season.

"Studio 60," executive produced by Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme, has the highest concentration of viewers with a household income of more than $75,000 of any show on television. The series co-stars Sarah Paulson, D.L. Hughley, Steven Weber, Nathan Corddry and Timothy Busfield.

In other pickup news, the CW has ordered three additional scripts each of "Veronica Mars" and "One Tree Hill."
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