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Hbo Orders More Episodes Of 3 Shows, Plus New Series

March 15, 1985|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

Underlining its commitment to offer subscribers more than just movies, Home Box Office on Thursday made what it said was the largest single order of new series in pay-TV history--giving renewal notices to three shows and commissioning a fourth one for a total of 72 episodes.

HBO, the nation's largest pay-TV service, said it had ordered new episodes of "Fraggle Rock," "Not Necessarily the News" and "The Hitchhiker." It also ordered six episodes of a comedy series entitled "First and Ten," the pilot for which was shown in December.

"What we are saying with this announcement is that we are very serious about series," said Bridget Potter, senior vice president in charge of original programming for HBO. She said that while series are not usually a factor in selling the service to a potential new customer, they play an important role in the month-to-month retention of subscribers.

"Fraggle Rock," a children's series, received an order for 24 new episodes for 1986. That will bring to 96 the number of half-hour installments that HBO has ordered since the Jim Henson children's series debuted in January, 1983.

"Not Necessarily the News," a satirical series that also premiered in January, 1983, got picked up for 32 episodes to run during the next two years. "The Hitchhiker," a dramatic anthology that began in November, 1983, received an order for 10 new programs.

"First and Ten," which stars Delta Burke as the owner of a football team, will begin airing in August. HBO said it also has ordered six additional scripts beyond the first six episodes.

Potter said that HBO has numerous other series in development and hopes to add an as-yet-undetermined number of them to the schedule in the next year. However, she stressed that the pay channel has "no intention of looking like a broadcast network." Theatrical motion pictures will continue to be the backbone of the service and there will still be a steady stream of "event programming," she said.

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