HBO stays true to ‘True Blood’

Network renews Alan Ball-produced series

HBO has sunk its teeth deeper into “True Blood,” giving the vampire drama a swift second season pickup after the show’s aud grew significantly in its second airing.

Alan Ball-produced drama will begin production of new episodes early next year in Los Angeles, with the debut of the second campaign set for next summer.

The well-promoted Sept. 7 bow of the series, which stars Anna Paquin, attracted 1.4 million viewers, and Sunday’s airing climbed 24% to 1.8 million viewers for the initial cablecast.

According to HBO West Coast programming topper Michael Lombardo, the ratings uptick factored in minimally into the pay cabler’s decision to renew “True Blood.”

“There was no way creatively we didn’t want this show on the air for another year, but (the ratings spike) probably gave us the kick in the butt we needed to pick it up early,” he said, noting that making that decision now will allow HBO and Ball time to get season two on the air by next summer.

“It was always our intention to air (the premiere) during the summer, but the writers strike put a damper on that,” Lombardo added.