FX orders final 'Nip/Tuck' episodes

Net also lines up comedies, announces castings

"Nip/Tuck" is coming to an end.

FX has ordered 19 additional episodes beyond the current 22-episode season that will mark the plastic surgery drama's final season. The show will end its run with a total of 100 episodes in early 2011, with creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy signed on through the last episode.

That was one of several announcements that FX president/GM John Landgraf made Tuesday morning during the network's presentation at the Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton.

Asked why he decided to bring "Nip/Tuck" to an end, Landgraf said he doubts any FX drama would ever run beyond 100 episodes, saying that serialized dramas have a much different storytelling model than nonserialized shows such as "Law & Order" or "CSI."

"If you tried to do 150 episodes of 'The Sopranos,' you would begin to diminish the quality of those shows," he said. "The David Chases ('Sopranos') and Shawn Ryans ('The Shield'), they're taking on social commentary and grand sweeping questions. If we want to go after that brass ring, we have to accept they have limited shelf life."

Landgraf also said the network's recent decision not to pick up Murphy's transsexual drama "Pretty/Handsome" was not related to Murphy's staying on with "Nip/Tuck."

"Nip/Tuck" has already aired 14 episodes of its current fifth season; the remaining eight are set to premiere in January.

In the comedy arena, the network has ordered 13 episodes of a new scripted series, "Testees," to debut at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 9 following "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." "Testees," created by Kenny Hotz ("Kenny vs. Spenny"), centers on two friends in their early 30s who earn a living as medical guinea pigs.

As for "Sunny," FX plans to produce 39 additional episodes, or three more seasons, beyond the 13 in production for the show's upcoming fourth season, which debuts at 10 p.m. Sept. 18. Landgraf said that will bring the total number of episodes to 52. All of the producers and stars are signed on for all of the episodes.

In casting news, Landgraf said Michael J. Fox has signed on for an arc in "Rescue Me," starting with the fifth-season premiere in the spring. He will play the wheelchair-bound boyfriend of Janet Gavin (Andrea Roth), Tommy's (Denis Leary) estranged wife.

Marcia Gay Harden is joining Timothy Olyphant and William Hurt as series regulars for the second season of "Damages." She will play a high-powered attorney who goes up against Glenn Close's attorney character.

Meanwhile, Ted Danson is set to reprise his role as Arthur Frobisher in the legal drama series for several episodes, though it's unclear whether his character survived a shooting in the first-season finale or will appear in flashbacks. (Langraf said only that his character is "not terribly healthy," and producers didn't clarify the matter when asked the question on a "Damages" panel later Tuesday morning.)

In other casting news, Jay Karnes, who plays Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach on FX's "The Shield," will appear in at least six episodes of FX's upcoming drama "Sons of Anarchy," which revolves around a motorcycle club. Drea de Matteo, who is in the "Sons" pilot, is set to appear in two more episodes.

Langraf also said that no decision has been made as to a third season of "The Riches," which he noted performs better than AMC's "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" and Showtime's "Dexter" but fell 44% in ratings from Season 1 to Season 2.

"We have a much higher bar for threshold for success than Showtime or HBO or AMC," he said. "So one of the things I'm always struggling to balance is, do I stay with something like 'The Riches' that I'm really proud of that has some real strengths and weaknesses, or do I open up the slot?"

Landgraf opened the session by noting that the network first announced its foray into original scripted programming seven years ago, with "The Shield." At that time, there were eight hourlong scripted series airing on basic cable, all of which were critically ignored, he said; this year, he said, there are more than 30, many of which are seeing commercial as well as critical success.