July 16, 2008

FX Says so Long to ‘The Shield’

By Robert Bianco and Gary Levin

LOS ANGELES -- On a day dedicated to edgy cable channel FX, the network talked to TV writers about saying goodbye to the series that started it all.

The Shield, which airs its seventh, final season starting in September, was FX's first original series, sparked rival cable networks to explore their own boundaries and boosted "a network that no one had ever heard of," says FX chief John Landgraf.

The Shield also made a star out of Michael Chiklis, who plays troubled cop Vic Mackey. Still, the actor says, he doesn't want to be remembered for just one role: "The Shield hopefully will become over time one of the highlights in a body of work," says Chiklis, who has since starred as The Thing in the Fantastic Four films.

Thanks in part to the writers' strike, the show already has shot its finale. Producer Shawn Ryan won't say what happens, but he will say he tried to avoid what he consideres a pitfall of series finales: dumping a show's normal pattern for a blockbuster episode. "It will feel like The Shield universe," Ryan says. OK, one hint: "This finale is what Vic Mackey deserves," co-star CCH Pounder says.

Other FX nuggets:

*Nip/Tuck, which is preparing the last eight episodes of its interrupted fifth season for January, has been renewed for a final 19-episode season. It's due in 2011.

*Rescue Me, due back in April, will have Michael J. Fox for a four-episode guest stint as a new boyfriend for Tommy's (Denis Leary) estranged wife. The boyfriend, who is in a wheelchair, "is a very funny, very original character," Landgraf says.

*Marcia Gay Hayden will join newcomers William Hurt and Timothy Olyphant as a regular on the Glenn Close drama Damages, which returns in January. But Ted Danson's villain, Arthur Frobisher, who was left for dead in the first-season finale, has in fact survived, and will be back next season.

*FX ordered 39 more episodes of comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in addition to 13 due to begin airing next week. As a Sunny companion, FX ordered 13 episodes of comedy Testees, due Oct. 9 from Kenny Hotz (South Park, Kenny vs. Spenny). It's about "two friends in their early 30s who earn their living as medical guinea pigs," Landgraf says.

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