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HBO renews three skeins

'Sex,' 'Oz,' 'Arliss' equal rating hikes

NEW YORK — HBO has renewed three of its series, “Sex and the City,” “Arliss” and “Oz,” for another season.

Chris Albrecht, prexy of original programming for HBO, said all three series delivered increased ratings over their previous season, making them no-brainers for renewal.

HBO will greenlight at least 16 new half-hours of “Sex and the City” for its third season. The series, created and exec produced by Darren Star, has completed 24 episodes. “Oz,” by contrast, will get only eight new hours for its fourth season on top of the 30 already compiled by executive producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana.

And over its first four seasons on HBO, “Arliss” has accumulated only 46 half-hours. HBO is committing to 13 more for the fifth-season renewal.

Despite having a trio of successful performers, Albrecht said the cabler finds it difficult to get veteran executive producer-writers to make series for HBO because they can make a lot more money on the back end if they create a hit series for a broadcast network.

HBO’s primary purpose in making TV series is to attract big audiences for their first run, building up repeat episodes for endless recycling on its cluster of multiplexed networks. HBO controls the back end to “Arliss,” “Sex and the City” and its runaway hit “The Sopranos,” which secured a second-season HBO renewal earlier this summer.

Paramount got the back end to “Oz” when the studio bought Rysher Entertainment, which owns a majority stake in the show.

Michael Tollin, co-exec producer of “Arliss” with Brian Robbins, said the show’s back end is limited. Tollin acknowledged that if “Arliss” were going into its fifth season on a broadcast network, he and Robbins would be looking to reap big bucks from domestic TV syndication compared rather than the minimal dollars from repeats on HBO.