USA is keeping its streak of renewing every new series alive with a second-season pickup for Fairly Legal. The top cable network will make the announcement at its upfront presentation in New York later today. Production on 13 new episodes will begin in late summer for a premiere in the first quarter of 2012. While a solid performer — Fairly Legal launched as the top new cable drama of the year in adults 18-49 and has averaged a 4.6 million total viewers in Live+7 — the legal dramedy has not been a breakout series like most of USA’s recent entries. The renewal decision was made based on the show’s appealing star, Sarah Shahi, and its potential, USA’s co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber said. “We think there is a creative and audience upside to the show,” Wachtel said. “Not every first season is the best, and we think it is a show that can do better.” He didn’t elaborate, but I hear the network is planning changes in the series’ creative direction for Season 2. McCumber singled out the series’ “breakout star,” Shahi, and defended its ratings performance, noting that the series did well against stiff competition in the Thursday 10 PM time slot. Created by Michael Sardo, Fairly Legal centers on mediator Kate Reed (Shahi). It co-stars are Michael Trucco, Virginia Williams and Baron Vaughn. Sardo is exec producing with Steve Stark for Universal Cable Prods.
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