Final 'Word' for Showtime

Sixth season will be drama's last

"The L Word" is set to take its final bow.

Showtime has renewed the drama for a sixth and final season, which will make it one of the premium network's longest-running series. Eight episodes have been ordered, targeted to go into production in early summer for an early 2009 premiere.

Although past seasons generally have consisted of 12-13 episodes, Showtime executives and series creator/executive producer Ilene Chaiken believed that eight additional episodes were creatively what was needed to wrap up the story lines.

The cast is in negotiations to return for the sixth season.

"L Word" follows a group of Los Angeles-based friends as they navigate careers, families, friendships, personal struggles and romantic relationships. The series became the first lesbian primetime drama on television when it debuted in January 2004.

But Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt said "L Word" has "surpassed its niche as a gay show."

"The title of the show became part of the lexicon, and the breadth and reach of the characters and story lines are a testament to the talent of Ilene Chaiken and her incredible cast," he said.

Showtime chairman and CEO Matthew Blank added that "L Word" has been an "important franchise" for the network, saying it will "live on in many, many ways."

Chaiken, who created the series with Kathy Greenberg and Michele Abbott, echoed those thoughts, noting that the show's interactive extensions will continue.

"This is by no means the end of 'The L Word,' " she said. "The brand and the social network community,, will continue to live and be a destination for lesbians everywhere and a lasting tribute to what 'The L Word' has accomplished."

She added that fan input will play a part in wrapping up the series' story lines, noting the role that viewer input has played in the past.

"L Word," which received a GLAAD Award for best drama series, also has a big following in virtual world Second Life and has spawned such branded products as perfume, jewelry and books. The Season 5 finale is set to air March 23.