‘Shield’ cops a 7th season

FX orders final season for cop drama

In a decision that keeps signature series “The Shield” on the air through 2008, FX has ordered a final seventh season of Shawn Ryan’s acclaimed cop drama.

FX has greenlit a final batch of 13 episodes, which will premiere in early 2008. Sixth season, currently in production, will air early next year. Cabler ordered the sixth season — then billing it as a set of bonus episodes — last fall (Daily Variety, Oct. 13).

Creator-exec producer Ryan will continue to serve as day-to-day showrunner on “The Shield.” He’ll also continue to run his drama “The Unit,” which comes back this fall on CBS. Final season of “Shield” will go into production some time next year.

Star Michael Chiklis and the rest of the cast are onboard for the remainder of the show. Season five regular Forest Whitaker will be back for a limited number of episodes in the upcoming sixth season.

FX president-general manager John Landgraf said he and Ryan had been talking for the past year and a half about how the dark drama about a conflicted cop would wind down.

“At first, we felt that if we stretched the show out indefinitely, it would inevitably become about cops and robbers, and what we love about it is the epic, Shakespearean storytelling it’s known for,” Landgraf said. “Shawn and I have been discussing how it will end — we thought the Glenn Close season might be its last — but he’s got more to say. There is this whole new area he’s going to explore.”

Landgraf said the decision to renew was singularly motivated by a desire to maintain the skein’s creative integrity. “We’re very proud of this show and have always wanted it to end in a way that is driven by the creative.”

Helping matters economically is an influx of coin generated by the syndication and cable sales of “The Shield,” which runs on stations during weekends and on Viacom cabler Spike TV during the week. “The Shield” is the first basic cable series ever to sell off-net to a competing basic cabler.

As to the possibility for seasons beyond the seventh: “I know what the arc is of the final season, almost through the last episode, and this is definitely the end of it,” Landgraf said.

In its most recent season, “Shield” averaged 2.8 million total viewers. It’s among the network’s top scorers in the 18-49 race, averaging 1.8 million in its last cycle.

Landgraf noted that the order for more “Shield” would have no impact on whether or not potential FX drama “Lowlife” would move forward to series. Pilot stars Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as married grifters. Cabler also just ordered 13 episodes of Courteney Cox showbiz starrer “Dirt.”

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