- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Four more for ‘World’

MTV is ordering four more seasons of its veteran reality hit “The Real World,” MediaWeek.com reports.

The order will extend the 17-year-old docudrama from Bunim-Murray Productions to an incredible 26 cycles. MTV also is ordering another four rounds of Bunim-Murray’s “The Real World/Road Rules Challenge,” bringing the competition series to 21 cycles.

The current season of “The Real World: Brooklyn” will air its finale at 10 Wednesday, and producers are shooting the next round, “The Real World: Cancun.”

Bunim-Murray chairman and “Real World” executive producer Jonathan Murray said the hefty order will benefit the show’s production team creatively.

“This allows us to plan,” he said. “It helps us figure out where we’re going next and allows us to do some long-range thinking.”

Given MTV’s youthful target audience, the network must develop a constant stream of new, hip programming. But the “Real World” format keeps managing to hook new generations of viewers. Producers, for instance, tweaked the format for the Brooklyn season by not giving the cast members jobs.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s easier to do in a big metropolitan area,” Mr. Murray said.

“Real World” was created for MTV by Mr. Murray and the late Mary-Ellis Bunim. Mr. Murray and Jim Johnston are executive producers.

Remembering Pedro

On a related “Real World” note, MTV will revisit the memory of one of its most popular and beloved participants, Pedro Zamora, with “Pedro the Movie,” airing at 8 Wednesday before this season’s finale.

As part of the 1994 cast, Mr. Zamora became the first openly gay and HIV-positive housemate on “Real World.” His appearance on the show brought his story and his message to MTV’s youthful audience and beyond, MTV says. When his health began to deteriorate later that year (after he left the show), it became international news, and his death at age 22 provoked a worldwide outpouring of grief.

‘Lights’ will stay on

“Friday Night Lights” fans can rejoice: NBC has ordered two more seasons of the critically lauded but ratings-challenged series.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network and DirecTV have finalized a deal for a 26-episode order - two seasons of 13 episodes each - of the UMS/Imagine TV-produced drama about a Texas high school football team.

Under the pact, “Lights” will continue to premiere on DirecTV, with a second window on NBC.

Faced with the prospect of canceling the series because of low ratings, NBC first struck a pact with DirecTV last year to share the cost of “Lights’ ” current third season.

Also helping to make the pickup economically feasible is the fact that “Lights” is produced efficiently in Austin, Texas, where it enjoys tax incentives. To keep costs even lower, the upcoming seasons might be filmed back to back.

Additionally, the two-season pickup for “Lights” makes the show syndicatable by bringing its episode count to 76.

On tap Wednesday

Reno 911! (10:30, Comedy Central). The cops are back on the beat for a sixth season.

c Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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