HBO renews ‘Life and Times of Tim’

Nickelodeon wild about 'Penguins'

HBO has given the greenlight to a second season of its animated comedy “The Life and Times of Tim” from Media Rights Capital.

Word of the “Tim” pickup surfaced Friday during HBO’s portion of the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Universal Hilton. HBO kept the focus firmly on the pay cabler’s upcoming slate of series, docs and made-fors with a rapid-fire series of panels; execs did not offer any state-of-the-network observations or programming news for TCA-goers.

At its sesh earlier in the day, Nickelodeon announced that it has doubled the episode order for DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming movie spinoff series “The Penguins of Madagascar.” Kidvid cabler has committed to 26 additional episodes well in advance of the skein’s March 28 preem.

“Three years ago, when DreamWorks Animation moved over to Paramount, one of the most important aspects of that new association was the promise of being able to partner with Nickelodeon,” said DreamWorks topper Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was on hand to tubthump “Penguins.”

Nickelodeon prexy Cyma Zarghami told scribes the cabler will mark the 10th anniversary of “SpongeBob SquarePants” this year with 20 fresh segs, a docu on the series and a primetime special, “SpongeBob vs. the Big One.” Zarghami noted the cabler itself is hitting its 30th birthday this year.

Among the highlights of HBO’s whirlwind series of panels were the appearance of Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange to talk up “Grey Gardens.” It’s a telepic rendition of the Maysles brothers’ 1975 cult-fave docu about a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale — relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who were once socialites but wound up living in squalor in a dilapidated East Hampton mansion.

Docu also inspired the recent Broadway tuner of the same name, but HBO’s pic is a narrative story that focuses largely on the early years of the Beale femmes.

“I’ve never laid anything on the line or worked so hard for anything in my life,” Barrymore enthused.

Pic, written and directed by Michael Sucsy, bows in April.

Harvey Weinstein was on hand to tubthump light dramedy series “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” a co-production of HBO, BBC and Weinstein Co. that lensed in Botswana and was among the last projects that Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack worked on before their deaths last year. Weinstein and “Detective Agency” exec producer Richard Curtis emphasized Minghella’s dedication to portraying the African nation in a positive light in the show, which bows March 29.

Will Ferrell promised that viewers should “expect the unexpected” in his stage show “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W Bush.” Show, which opens Jan. 20 for a limited run at the Cort Theater, will air live March 14 on HBO. “We set out to do a funny political satire. We’ll surprise people with a lot of twists and turns,” Ferrell told scribes via satellite from Gotham.

Ferrell and his producing partner Adam McKay also plugged the comedy series “Eastbound and Down,” from the pair’s Gary Sanchez Prods. banner. Series, to bow Feb. 15, stars Danny McBride (“Pineapple Express”) as a former baseball star who’s reduced to working as a P.E. teacher at a middle school in his North Carolina home town. The show revels in a kind of Southern-fried humor that has rarely been depicted on TV, McBride said.

“A lot of it is the mundaneness of living in a small town. Instead of going out to a nightclub, you go out to a Chili’s,” McBride explained.

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