Drama covers Prohibition-era Atlantic City

HBO has renewed “Boardwalk Empire” for a third season.

The drama kicked off its second season on Sept. 25, with 2.9 million viewers coming aboard for its original 9 p.m. airing. When adding two other plays that night, “Boardwalk” drew 4.5 million viewers — down from the series debut a year ago when its pilot drew 4.8 million viewers for the first showing and 7.1 million over the course of the evening.

Series, which examines Prohibition-era Atlantic City, performed well last month at the Emmy Awards, specifically at the Creative Arts Emmys; all together, it took home eight statuettes.

HBO invested millions in creating the set for “Boardwalk” and will receive a better return on its investment the longer the show runs on the air.

The ensemble drama stars Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald and Michael Pitt. Exec producers are Terence Winter, Martin Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg.

Pay cabler recently launched new comedy “Enlightened” and has laffers “Veep,” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and “Girls” on deck. On the drama side, net is planning a 2012 release of David Milch’s “Luck” and has the new Aaron Sorkin show — about the backstage goings-on at a cable news network — in the wings.

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