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Fox fine with more jail time

Skein rewarded for good behavior

Fox’s “Prison Break” has had its sentence upped to 22 episodes.

Decision to order the back nine segs of “Prison Break” makes Fox the first net to give a full season order to a frosh skein. “Break,” from 20th Century Fox TV and Adelstein/Parouse Prods., got a head start on the competition, bowing Aug. 29.

Fall season is still in its infancy, but nets are already assessing the fates and fortunes of other series as well.

Fox has greenlit production on nine more episodes of animated laffer “American Dad” — a move that will keep the 20th Century Fox TV-produced show on the air through the 2006-07 season.

And over at NBC, critically hailed comedy “The Office” has seen its initial six-episode fall order expanded to 13 segs. Net had previously bought seven backup scripts from the Steve Carrell starrer, produced by NBC U Television Studio and Reveille.

Created by film scribe Paul Scheuring, “Prison Break” has been a solid performer for Fox in its 9 p.m. Monday slot. Skein has been particularly potent in younger viewers, boosting Fox’s timeslot average in adults 18-34 by 22% over last season.

Scheuring is exec producer along with Matt Olmstead, Marty Adelstein, Dawn Parouse, Brett Rattner and Original Film’s Neil Moritz.

Fox Entertainment prexy Peter Liguori said the ratings success for “Prison Break” is particularly encouraging given the high-concept, serialized nature of the show.

“Going in, this was something everyone knew wasn’t going to be an easy thing to pull off,” he said. “But Paul and his team, working with Matt and Marty and Dawn, have done a great job.”

“Prison” takes a two-week break for baseball after Monday’s episode. Liguori said the net will use baseball to drive viewers back to the show when it returns.

As for “American Dad,” Liguori said the skein has done a good job holding on to its “Family Guy” lead-in, especially facing off against “Desperate Housewives.”

“At first, I think the ‘Family Guy’ audience was so in love with that show, they sort of thought, How dare anyone put out another Seth MacFarlane show? But I think very quickly they’ve embraced it,” Liguori said. “We’re very happy to have the Batman and Robin of animation.”

“Family Guy” is exec produced by MacFarlane, Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman. Skein bowed in May; not long after, Fox ordered another batch of episodes extending the show through the early part of the 2006-07 season.

On the “Office” front, NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly said he’s glad to see numbers for the show picking up behind frosh hit “My Name Is Earl.” While “The Office” still loses a good chunk of its lead-in, show does particularly well among adults 18-34 Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. — and Reilly plans to be patient.

“The show’s funny, it’s inventive, and the young base is really there in droves,” he said. “Some of NBC’s biggest hits had humble origins. We all know the story of ‘Seinfeld’ starting out with just four episodes.”

Greg Daniels, Ben Silverman, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Howard Klein are the exec producers of “The Office.”

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