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‘Chuck’ back, but on tighter budget

NBC, WBTV finalize renewal deal

Chuck” will live to fight another day, albeit on a tighter budget.

NBC and Warner Bros. TV struck a 13-episode third-season renewal deal on Sunday for the action-comedy that has a modest but passionate fanbase.

Like virtually every other primetime skein on the Big Four nets, “Chuck” will return next season with a smaller production budget. The renewal haggling between NBC and Warner Bros. TV over the past few weeks has centered entirely on cost-cutting issues, insiders said.

“Chuck,” which stars Zachary Levi as a regular-Joe computer geek who winds up with CIA secrets implanted in his head, averaged 2.8 rating/7 share in the adults 18-49 demographic and 7.3 million viewers during its sophomore season in the Monday 8 p.m. timeslot.

Series got off to a solid start in its freshman year but was interrupted by the writers strike. Fans mounted elaborate “Save Chuck” campaigns during the past two months, including a tie-in with the Subway sandwich chain, that merited a shoutout on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak co-created “Chuck” and exec produce along with McG and Scott Rosenbaum.

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