Duo eye fourth season of intense drama

Walter White lives on. AMC and Sony Pictures TV are on the verge of announcing a fourth-season pickup for “Breaking Bad.”

The intense drama series starring Bryan Cranston as a high school chemistry teacher who turns to meth manufacturing after he’s diagnosed with cancer has been a strong performer for AMC, critically and commercially. But the cost of the show presented some hurdles for the cabler and studio in coming terms on a deal for a fourth season.

“Breaking Bad” is said to cost about $3 million per episode, which is on the high end of most basic cable dramas. It’s understood that the studio and network went back and forth for some time on setting the budget for the fourth season, and on an agreement for AMC to pick up some of the tab in the case of budget overruns.

“Breaking Bad” has drawn raves from TV crix for its nuanced portrayal of the drug trade and for the work of Cranston in the lead role as White. Cranston earned the lead drama actor Emmy for the past two years for his work on the show, which was also nommed for best drama series last year.

Vince Gilligan is creator and exec producer of “Breaking Bad,” which also stars Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Dean Norris. The show wrapped its 13-episode third season on Sunday.

Reps for Sony and AMC could not be reached for comment late Sunday.

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