'In Treatment' back in bunches this year

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HBO gave critics a preview of its spring lineup, including the Will Ferrell-produced comedy "Eastbound and Down" and the next seasons of "In Treatment" and "Big Love."

When "Treatment" returns in April, the network no longer will air a half-hour episode each weeknight, HBO entertainment president Sue Naegle said Friday. Instead, the network will cluster the shows, with two episodes airing Sundays and three Mondays.

"People like to dig in and watch more than one at a time," Naegle said.

HBO also is opting for more episodes of another half-hour program, the animated series "The Life & Times of Tim." The comedy, created by Steve Dildarian, will return for a second season.

The producers of drama "Big Love," which returns Sunday for a third season, said last year's WGA strike allowed them to scrap a couple of scripts and take the third season in a different direction, which kept the show's focus on the family without moving the story too quickly.

"In the first year of the show we were constantly getting notes from HBO saying, 'Slow it down a bit, you're burning through story way too fast, you're going to come up to a third year and have nothing to write about,' " producer Mark Olsen said. "There's some merit to that. What we've done is slowed down the backstory a little bit."

HBO had Ferrell via satellite for two panels — for the network's telecast of his Broadway show "You're Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush" and "Eastbound."

For the Bush special, Ferrell and exec producer Adam McKay said they will depict the departing president using the evening as an opportunity "to set the record straight" about his tenure.

"Some people will think the show is too harsh, some will think it isn't harsh enough, but people should expect the unexpected," Ferrell said.

For "Eastbound," star/co-writer Danny McBride said the series will bring a fresh take on life in the South, where he was raised.

"We weren't really happy with the way the South was portrayed in a lot of film and television," he said. "It seemed like it kind of stopped at 'Hee Haw.' We want to find new things to make fun of in the South." (partialdiff)
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