TNT, USA announce renewals

'Burn Notice,' 'Closer,' 'Saving Grace' to return

Cable’s summer originals heatwave is not letting up. TNT and USA have handed out early second-season renewals to their hot frosh players.

USA has given the thumbs up to 13 more episodes of secret agent drama “Burn Notice,” while TNT has placed an unusually chunky 15-episode order for the Holly Hunter starrer “Saving Grace,” which has been drawing upwards of 5 million viewers in its coveted slot behind “The Closer” on Monday night. Both skeins hail from Fox TV Studios.

The ratings wealth for cable originals has been widespread, lifting several nets to historic highs.

At Lifetime, “Army Wives” garnered an average of 3.6 million viewers for its initial airing and has been picked up for a second season.

“The Closer” has built on its strong perf for TNT with an average of more than 7 million total viewers, while TBS has scored an average of nearly 3 million viewers for both “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and “The Bill Engvall Show,” unusually strong showings for cable comedies.

FX has had its share of the action with new Glenn Close legal drama “Damages” becoming a solid performer, scoring an average of about 3.3 million viewers in its first two weeks.

TNT’s pickup of “Grace” ensures that next summer will look similar to this one on the cabler; net recently ordered up 15 more segs of “Closer” for its fourth season.

“Grace,” exec produced by “Closer” alum Nancy Miller, centers on a hard-living detective who is visited by an angel after she (possibly) strikes a pedestrian while driving drunk.

Insiders said TNT will likely move “Grace” to a new night and possibly launch a new series behind it.

TNT execs have said they want at least four originals on the air in 2008. Cabler has already ordered pilots for a William H. Macy drama and an hourlong set in the ad world.

Meanwhile, “Burn” has blazed new trails for USA on Thursday nights, winning its timeslot among basic cable nets every week since its June 28 premiere. Ratings for the skein have been on the rise, with last week’s seg notching a series-high 4.4 million viewers (2.3 million among adults 25-54, USA’s target demo).

Its perf is but one part of a notably strong summer for USA, which kicked off the frame with solid numbers for miniseries “The Starter Wife.” “Wife” even pulled in a slew of Emmy noms last month.

Lensed on location in Miami, “Burn” stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Sharon Gless and Bruce Campbell. Matt Nix and Mikkel Bondesen are exec producers.

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