- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2008

There will be ‘Blood’

HBO is ordering a second season of the new series “True Blood” after just two episodes.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the series, which follows the adventures of vampires in New Orleans, will go back into production early next year in anticipation of a new batch of episodes for the summer of 2009.

Though the premiere episode of the series received a modest audience, HBO cited an “unprecedented” 24 percent increase in viewers for the second installment. In addition, the “Blood” premiere drew 4 million when additional runs of the that episode were tallied.

Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, “True Blood” takes place in the not-too-distant future, when vampires have come out of the coffin thanks to the invention of mass-produced synthetic blood that means they no longer need humans for their fix. Set in a backwoods Louisiana town, the show follows the romance between waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Oscar winner Anna Paquin), who can read minds, and 173-year-old vampire Bill Compton (played by Stephen Moyer). The cast also includes Ryan Kwanten as Sookie’s brother Jason; Rutina Wesley as her best friend, Tara Thornton; and Sam Trammell as Sookie’s good-hearted boss, Sam Merlotte.

“True Blood” was created by Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “American Beauty” and the creator of HBO’s Emmy-winning series “Six Feet Under.” Mr. Ball also serves as executive producer and has written and directed several episodes of the new series. “True Blood” is based on the popular Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

Colbert plans ‘Gift’

Stephen Colbert will leave his pundit’s desk Nov. 23 to host a one-hour musical Christmas special for Comedy Central.

According to Variety.com, the Sunday-night special, “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!” will feature the comedian performing duets with Willie Nelson, Elvis Costello and John Legend. “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart also will showcase his vocal chops alongside Mr. Colbert, as will country music star Toby Keith.

The special also will feature original songs written by “Daily Show” executive producer David Javerbaum and composer Adam Schlesinger. Mr. Javerbaum recently collaborated with the Fountains of Wayne artist on the Tony-nominated Broadway musical “Cry-Baby.”

“A Colbert Christmas” also will bow on DVD via Paramount Home Entertainment on Nov. 25, with part of the proceeds benefiting the charity Feeding America.

Nick adds new shows

Nickelodeon has picked up two animated series: a spinoff of Nicktoons Network’s “Random! Cartoons” that features a high-profile voice cast and an interactive series created by the team behind Nick’s “Blue’s Clues,” the Hollywood Reporter says.

The network has ordered 26 episodes of the CG-animated series “Fanboy and Chum Chum,” a spinoff of the “Random!” collection of anthology shorts, and has greenlighted 20 episodes of the math-themed “Team Umizoomi,” which combines 2-D and 3-D animation with live action.

“Fanboy” centers on a fearless, comic-book-loving 10-year-old named Fanboy (David Hornsby) and his best friend and trusty sidekick, Chum Chum (Nika Futterman), whose wide-eyed acceptance of the bizarre is the perfect complement to his friend’s hyper imagination. The voice cast also includes Jamie Kennedy, Josh Duhamel and Estelle Harris. It premieres next year.

“Umizoomi,” which features miniature action heroes helping real preschoolers solve everyday problems by using math — and is set to a pop-rock soundtrack — is in production for a 2009 premiere on Nick Jr., the weekday programming block targeting preschoolers.

With these pickups, animation production at the Nick Animation Studio will increase by 50 percent this year, with a total of 225 half-hours expected to be delivered next year, THR notes.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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