LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- In a bold scheduling move, HBO confirmed yesterday it plans to go 14 weeks without first-run programming on its signature Sunday lineup.
That's the time between December 4's fifth season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the long-awaited sixth season launch of "The Sopranos" on March 12.
The pay channel had previously planned to launch its new drama "Big Love" - about a polygamist played by Bill Paxton and his three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin) - in January but will instead hold the series until June.
It's understood the decision was to avoid disruptions by such events as Super Bowl XL (February 5), the 2006 Winter Olympics (February 10-26) and the Academy Awards (March 5).
Joining "The Sopranos" in March is expected to be season three of "Deadwood" with "Entourage's" third season bowing in June along with the aforementioned "Big Love" and "Lucky Louie," the network's first multi-camera sitcom.
In September, look for season four of "The Wire" while 2007 will see part two of "The Sopranos's" sixth season and season two of "Rome." A second season of "Extras" is also due sometime in late 2006/early 2007, depending upon when its BBC run concludes.
Meanwhile, FX has firmed up some of its plans for 2006.
Leading off things in January will be the fifth season premiere of "The Shield." The series is expected to run for 11 episodes, after which it will take a break until either the fall or next January (depending upon how season three of "Rescue Me" and presumably the fourth season of "Nip/Tuck" are scheduled) when the latter half of its 21-episode season will air.
Also in the mix next year are the second seasons of "30 Days" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" as well as the Andre Braugher-led crime drama "Thief" and an untitled reality newcomer from "30 Days" producer R.J. Cutler and actor/rapper/producer Ice Cube.