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FX slates April 7 return for 'Rescue Me,' picks up sixth season

February 12, 2009 |  3:01 pm

Learyweb FX has set an April 7 return date for Season 5 of Denis Leary's firefighter drama, "Rescue Me," but perhaps in bigger news for Leary, the network has preemptively ordered a sixth season of the show.

News of the early renewal is not all surprising. "Rescue Me" and "Nip/Tuck" are the network's strongest players. (A final season of "Nip/Tuck" has already been ordered;  the show will end in 2011.) In its fourth season, "Rescue Me" averaged 2.8 million viewers (1.9 million adults ages 18 to 49). That's almost triple the number of people who watched the most recent episode of FX's legal thriller starring Glenn Close "Damages" (941,000).

Of the early pickup, network President and General Manager John Landgraf said, " 'Rescue Me' is one of the very best series on television and a tentpole program for FX. We're amazed by the quality of episodes for the upcoming fifth season, which are some of the best they’ve ever produced. I believe this show will continue to maintain a level of excellence for several years to come, and we’re thrilled to pick it up for a sixth season."

The 22-episode fifth season will air its finale on Sept. 8. No word on when production begins on Season 6. FX said 18 episodes have been ordered.

To help juice interest in the series, which premiered in 2004, Leary will launch "The Rescue Me Comedy Tour," an 11-city set that will include stand-up from the actor, his "Rescue Me" costars Adam Ferrara and Lenny Clarke and other comics. The tour kicks off March 21 in Atlantic City, N.J.

— Denise Martin

Photo credit: FX