Pact includes new deal with star Michael C. Hall

Showtime has renewed “Dexter” for two more seasons.

Cabler was able to greenlight additional seasons because star and exec producer Michael C. Hall has inked a new deal to remain with the show. His previous contract expires at the end of the current season.

The upcoming seventh and eighth seasons will consist of 12 episodes each and production is set to begin next year in Los Angeles.

Showtime president David Nevins told Variety that this extension will “likely” be the final two seasons of the show and that the creative forces behind the skein are working on a storyline based on that exit strategy.

Though Nevins would “never say never” about extending the show past season eight, “The scenario we’re working under is a likely two-year plan. We’re operating under the two-year endgame. … There has been good creative plans we discussed and it would have been a bummer not to execute them.”

As for Hall’s deal, which officially closed Thursday, he will be earning a salary in the mid-six figures per episode, making him among the highest paid actors on TV.

Hall, who is repped by WME, is believed to have started out in 2006 at a per-episode salary in the high five-figure range. After the second season, Hall was named a co-exec producer on the show, and he was upped to exec producer rank in season four. Once an exec producer, Hall was entitled to share in ancillary income from the show, including DVD sales, merchandising and foreign distribution.

“Dexter” continues to be a ratings force for Showtime. Season to date the series is averaging 5.1 million weekly viewers on all platforms, including on demand, replays and DVR, making it the highest-rated season yet. Last year the show drew 4.7 million cumulative viewers per episode.

Nevins said “Dexter” and terrorist-themed drama “Homeland,” a major hit for the pay cabler, have benefited each other on Sunday nights. “Dexter,” which airs at 9 p.m., acts as a lead-in for “Homeland.”

“You’re always looking at these kinds of shows and asking when does it crest the hill ratings-wise,” Nevins remarked on the ratings fortitude of “Dexter.” “It’s still on an upward trend and is a powerful show.”

Hall, who plays a conflicted serial killer, exec produces with John Goldwyn, Sara Colleton, Scott Buck and Manny Coto.

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