LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- FX has extended its veteran cable drama "The Shield" for a seventh and final season while HBO is set to wrap "Deadwood's" run with a pair of two-hour original movies.
The latter news comes on the heels of dueling statements in recent weeks by HBO and creator/executive producer David Milch over the show's fate. Milch told TV Guide last week that "this is to be the final season of the show," referring to its return this Sunday. HBO executives however responded that no decision had been made about any potential fourth season. In any case, the pair have settled on producing two telefilms as "Deadwood's" swan song, likely as a two-night, four-hour event.
Negotiations are currently underway to sign the show's cast to reprise their roles while no production start date was mentioned.
As for "The Shield," 13 fresh installments are set to be produced for the final season, which will launch in late 2007 or early 2008. Production is currently underway on its sixth cycle of 10 episodes (due in early 2007), which was originally billed as the second half of its fifth season. In total, 88 episodes will have been shot of the series once it run concludes.
"Shield" creator/executive producer Shawn Ryan and star Michael Chiklis have already signed on for the show's swan song, while Forest Whitaker will return on a limited basis for the upcoming season.
Meanwhile in other FX news, the cable channel is moving forward with its drama pilot "Dirt," ordering a total of 13 episodes of the series. The project, co-produced by FX and Touchstone Television, stars Courteney Cox as the editor-in-chief of a pair of popular celebrity tabloids. Matthew Carnahan is behind the hour, which also features Ian Hart, Jeffrey Nordling, Josh Stewart, Kathleen Chalfant, Laura Allen, Shannyn Sossamon and Will McCormack.
Cox herself and husband David Arquette will also serve as executive producers via their Coquette banner. It's also understood some of the pilot will be reshot to include more of Cox's character while director David Fincher ("Fight Club") made a cameo. Production is set to begin this summer for an early 2007 launch date.
"Dirt" was one of two pilots - the other being "Lowlife," in which Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver play married con artists - under consideration for series orders next season. No decision has been made about the fate of "Lowlife."