HBO stringing a third season of ‘Wire’

Production is slated to begin in early 2004

“The Wire” will live to snoop another day.

HBO has tapped into a 12-seg third season of the acclaimed cop drama.

Production on season three is slated to begin in early 2004.

Hourlong skein has drawn modest auds since its June 2002 premiere compared with the net’s signature skeins “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under” and “Wire” lead-in “Sex and the City.”

Accent on quality

“Ratings are not the be-all, end-all for us. What we’re after is quality programming, and ‘The Wire’ is emblematic of that,” said exec VP of original programming Carolyn Strauss.

Despite across-the-board praise from TV critics, however, show was snubbed during this year’s Emmy noms.

“Unfortunately, the critics aren’t Academy members,” Strauss said.

Drug angle

“The Wire,” starring Dominic West (“Mona Lisa Smile”), follows a single police investigation and the wiretaps and surveillance surrounding it, for an entire season. First season centered on the Baltimore drug scene as seen through the eyes of both law enforcement and drug dealers, while the second focused on corruption in the city’s shipyards.

Season two finale bows Aug. 24.

“The Wire,” exec produced by David Simon and Robert F. Colesberry, airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m.